A river longer than the Thames has been discovered under the Antarctic ice sheet, and scientists say it may accelerate ice loss as the climate warms, it is reported. RT.
The 286-mile (460 km) waterway was first documented by researchers at Imperial College London and other international institutions..
For comparison, the River Thames, which runs through London, is 215 miles (346 km) long..
The newly discovered river collects water from an area the size of Germany and France combined, and significantly affects the flow and melting of ice on the continent, with scientists fearing that the river will increase ice loss from the base of the plate if climate change exacerbates melting at the surface..
Lead researcher Dr Kristin Dow, from the University of Waterloo, said: “We can significantly underestimate the speed of system melt by not accounting for the impact of these river systems. From satellite measurements, we know which regions of Antarctica are losing ice, and by how much, but we don’t know. The reason is necessarily, and this finding may be a missing link in our models“.
Water under the planet’s ice sheets can appear in Greenland around the North Pole, and Antarctica around the Antarctic in two main ways: first through melting surface ice and water flowing through deep cracks called mullein, and the second is melting at the base, caused by the natural heat of the Earth Friction as the ice moves over the ground.
In Greenland, massive amounts of surface meltwater are formed during the warm summer, which runs through the mullein to create streams and lakes, but in Antarctica, it does not get hot enough to withstand the meltwater and form the mullein in the first place..
As a result, there was supposed to be relatively little water at the base of the Antarctic ice sheets. Through a combination of airborne radar surveys and hydrological models, researchers discovered a huge river system hidden under the ice sheet..
This is located in a largely inaccessible and poorly studied area, which includes ice from both eastern and western Antarctica, and reaches into the sea WedelAnd it appears at sea beneath the floating ice shelf – a glacier that extends from land and is floating enough to float on the ocean waters..
The existence of such an extensive river system indicates the presence of a large amount of water from the melting of the base of the Antarctic ice sheet alone.,In addition, when river water flows into the sea below the ice shelf, it warms the water and helps melt it from below..
In the study published in natural earth sciencesThe fact that it has not been discovered for so long shows how little we know about the continent, researchers say.
The river system can affect how climate change affects the region and will need to be taken into account in future models and forecasts.