Vast Crater Found Under Antarctica Ice Cap
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July 03, 2013

Vast Crater Found Under Antarctica Ice Cap

 

            Antarctica-ghost-lake-617x416

 


ESA’s CryoSat satellite has found a vast crater in Antarctica’s icy surface. Scientists believe the crater was left behind when a lake lying under about 3 km of ice suddenly drained. Far below the thick ice sheet that covers Antarctica, there are lakes of fresh water without a direct connection to the ocean. These lakes are of great interest to scientists who are trying to understand water transport and ice dynamics beneath the frozen Antarctic surface – but this information is not easy to obtain. About 400 lakes have been discovered at the base of the Antarctic ice sheet. When they drain, they disrupt subglacial habitats and can cause the ice above to slide more quickly into the sea.

One method is to drill holes through kilometres of ice to the water – a difficult endeavour in the harsh conditions of the polar regions.

By combining new measurements acquired by CryoSat with older data from NASA’s ICESat satellite, the team has mapped the large crater left behind by a lake, and even determined the scale of the flood that formed it.

From 2007 to 2008, six cubic kilometres of water – about the same amount that is stored in Scotland’s Loch Ness – drained from the lake, making it the largest event of its kind ever recorded.

That amount of water equals a tenth of the melting that occurs beneath Antarctica each year.

Since the end of 2008, the lake appears to be refilling but six times slower than it drained. It could take decades to reform.

The study, published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, highlights CryoSat’s unique capacity to map changes in Antarctica’s subglacial lakes in 3D, and sheds new light on events at the base of the ice sheet.

CryoSat carries a radar altimeter that can ‘see’ through clouds and in the dark, providing continuous measurements over areas like Antarctica that are prone to bad weather and long periods of darkness.

The radar can measure both the area and depth of ice craters in high resolution, allowing scientists to calculate its volume accurately.

“Thanks to CryoSat, we can now see fine details that were not apparent in older satellite data records,” said Dr Malcolm McMillan from the UK’s University of Leeds and lead author of the study ‘Three-dimensional mapping by CryoSat-2 of subglacial lake volume changes’.

With every subglacial lake, there is hope of finding prehistoric marine life. The rapid draining and apparent refilling of this lake, however, suggests this was not the first time water has drained from the lake.

“It seems likely that the flood water – and any microbes or sediments it contained – has been flushed into the Southern Ocean, making it difficult to imagine that life in this particular lake has evolved in isolation,” said Prof. Andrew Shepherd, a co-author of the study.

The Daily Galaxy via http://www.esa.int/

Comments

In 30 million years the South Polar Region will be without glacial ice, but how will that affect the rest of the planet? Where will humanity be in the next 30 million years? We look to the future with eyes wide and filled with the hope of a thousand burning candles, but with the ever increasing Global Warming it seems that we are just looking at life with rose colored glasses. If humans don't get our act together we many have first contact, via an anthropological dig by alien scientists in the distant unforeseeable future.

Arctic and Antarctic ice was not always present on the planet, for it developed during the course of a devastating impact of a asteroid. If in the next 30 million years Antarctica will look ice-less and barren, what similar time frame are we looking at; say the Jurassic Period. Are we producing the conditions that may give rise to another period of dinosaurs? Can mankind and T-Rex live harmoniously together?

climate depot blog has had many reports that the worlds mean temperature has stayed the same for the last 15 years, Alaska has only just come out of its longest, coldest winter since records began, as for the Antarctic ice sheet, its 10% above normal.
Greenland, latest temperatures show the ice sheet is minus 32c, also the new ice is burying the research station.
Coldest summer on record continues in the Arctic.
I think thats enough for now.

Isn't that obvious that certain comments like above mentioned are not exactly up to the standards of your web site (two+ by the same individual)
and are actually abuse of the precious space ?

The earth experiences cycles of warmth and cold. In the 1970s the world governments were bracing for a coming Ice Age. Well as you can see; that didn't happen. Todays global warming is a cycle. In fact, it has reached its apex about 2002. The earth has NOT warmed anymore since 2002 but because we are still in the warming cycle there will be further melt for maybe another decade. However, we have already begun a slow dip in temperature. Si its all cycles, quit worrying.


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