Frozen fjords found under Antarctic ice

Jun 06, 2011

Scientists have uncovered a landscape of deep fjords in Antarctica, carved by millions of years of ice movement.

University of Edinburgh researchers say the discovery, in a part of East Antarctica roughly the size of France, gives valuable insight into how the ice sheet formed.

The global team of researchers say the find will also improve their understanding of how ice in the region might melt if rise.

The findings will also help reveal the possible impact on sea levels.

Scientists say that between 34 and 15 ago, as temperatures dropped, ice formed inland and moved slowly towards the sea before retreating inland again.

Over millions of years the process was repeated, carving fjords and causing changes of up to 20 meters.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Texas, together with the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center, focused their studies on an ice-covered lowland in East Antarctica.

The area, known as the Aurora Subglacial Basin, has ice is up to 4.5 kilometers thick.

It is vulnerable to , because any rise in could cause low-lying ice to melt.

The study supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, was published in the journal Nature.

This latest finding forms part of a wider initiative to map Antarctica’s landscape.

Scientists are mapping the land underneath the ice using radar data acquired by flying across the continent in a refurbished 1942 DC-3 plane.

"Antarctica is one of the few remaining unexplored places on Earth and there is a great deal we can learn from it – not only about how the continent was shaped by the climates of the past, but also how it might respond to changing climates of the future," said Professor Martin Siegert, School of GeoSciences.

Explore further: NASA image: Beaver complex and July complex wildfires in California

Provided by University of Edinburgh

4.3 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New structure found deep within West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Sep 23, 2004

Ice sheet more susceptible to change than previously thought Scientists have found a remarkable new structure deep within the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which suggests that the whole ice sheet is more susceptible to future ch ...

Warming oceans threaten Antarctic glaciers

Mar 15, 2007

Scientists have identified four Antarctic glaciers that pose a threat to future sea levels using satellite observations, according to a study published in the journal Science.

Recommended for you

NASA sees Tropical Storm Lowell's tough south side

3 hours ago

The south side of Tropical Storm Lowell appears to be its toughest side. That is, the side with the strongest thunderstorms, according to satellite imagery from NOAA's GOES-14 and NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellites.

User comments : 0