Hidden rift valley discovered beneath West Antarctica reveals new insight into ice loss

Hidden rift valley discovered beneath West Antarctica reveals new insight into ice loss
Map of Eltanin Bay.

Scientists have discovered a one mile deep rift valley hidden beneath the ice in West Antarctica, which they believe is contributing to ice loss from this part of the continent.

Experts from the University of Aberdeen and (BAS) made the discovery below Ferrigno Stream, a region visited only once previously, over fifty years ago, in 1961, and one that is remote even by Antarctic standards.

Their findings, reported in Nature this week reveal that the ice-filled ancient rift basin is connected to the warming ocean which impacts upon contemporary ice flow and loss.

The is of great scientific interest and societal importance as it is losing ice faster than any other part of Antarctica with some shrinking by more than one metre per year.

Understanding the processes that influence ice loss from is important to improve predictions of its future behaviour in a warming world.

Dr Robert Bingham, a working in the University of Aberdeen's School of and lead author of the study, discovered the rift valley whilst undertaking three months of fieldwork with British Antarctic Survey in 2010.

Dr Bingham, whose was funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) said: "Over the last 20 years we have used satellites to monitor ice losses from Antarctica, and we have witnessed consistent and substantial ice losses from around much of its .

"For some of the glaciers, including Ferrigno Ice Stream, the losses are especially pronounced, and, to understand why, we needed to acquire data about conditions beneath the ice surface."

The team gathered the data using an ice-penetrating towed behind a skidoo driven across the relatively flat ice surface, over a distance of 1500 miles – greater than that between London and Athens.

Dr Bingham continued: "What we found is that lying beneath the ice there is a large valley, parts of which are approximately a mile deeper than the surrounding landscape.

"If you stripped away all of the ice here today, you'd see a feature every bit as dramatic as the huge rift valleys you see in Africa and in size as significant as the Grand Canyon.

"This is at odds with the flat ice surface that we were driving across – without these measurements we would never have known that it was there.

"What's particularly important is that this spectacular valley aligns perfectly with the recordings of ice-surface lowering and ice loss that we have witnessed with satellite observations over this area for the last twenty years."

Co-author and geophysicist Dr Fausto Ferraccioli from British Antarctic Survey added: "The newly discovered Ferrigno Rift is part of a huge and yet poorly understood rift system that lies beneath the West .

"What this study shows is that this ancient rift basin, and the others discovered under the ice that connect to the warming ocean can influence contemporary ice flow and may exacerbate ice losses by steering coastal changes further inland."

Professor David Vaughan, from British Antarctic Survey leads Ice2sea, a major EU-funded FP7 research programme to improve projections of global and regional sea-level. He said, "Thinning ice in West Antarctica is currently contributing nearly 10 per cent of global sea level rise. It's important to understand this hot spot of change so we can make more accurate predictions for future sea level rise."

The research in Nature is part of the British Antarctic Survey Icesheets Programme, which examines the role of ice sheets in the Earth System, and the processes that control ice-sheet change. It monitors current change and sets this in context with the past allowing more accurate projections for increases in global sea level to be made.


Explore further

New structure found deep within West Antarctic Ice Sheet

More information: Inland thinning of West Antarctic Ice Sheet steered along subglacial rifts by Robert G. Bingham, Fausto Ferraccioli, Edward C. King, Robert D. Larter, Hamish D. Pritchard, Andrew M. Smith, David G. Vaughan is published in the journal Nature.
Journal information: Nature

Citation: Hidden rift valley discovered beneath West Antarctica reveals new insight into ice loss (2012, July 25) retrieved 18 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-07-hidden-rift-valley-beneath-west.html
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Jul 25, 2012
Vendicar:

What's your spin on this?

Jul 25, 2012
Total ice mass in Antarctica is growing.

Jul 25, 2012
Skip over to the Danikil Depression contained within Africa'g Great Rift. It is lower than sea level by 300 meters, the lowest point of dry land on the surface of the earth. That depression contains volcanos of the pooling lava type like running bleeding spots on a skin being stretched beyond stretch mark like breaking point. Point is an extreme case of the earth being warmer the deeper you go in it. That makes a case for this valley melting water all by itself due to geological causes...the Great Rift of Africa being an example. Even the Grand Canyon is warmer at the bottom than at the top, and contains there a microclimate beneficial to the tribe that lives there.

Jul 25, 2012
What! Gaia is melting its ice?
I recall some science special about a river of ice on Antarctica. It was suggested why was causing the ice to slide, besides the slope, was a thin layer of water between the the ice and the earth suggesting a combination of pressure and heat from below created the liquid layer of lubricant. Of course it was suggested that heat from global warming was being conducted through a mile thick layer of ice which caused the ice to melt.

Jul 25, 2012
ummmm nope. Actually, since you brought up the subject, VD, it's the Conservative ideology that will SAVE America from the welfare bums and supporters of Socialist immorality. And with that, I leave all you Liberal experts to solve the world's problems. Ta Ta
:)

Jul 25, 2012
"Scientists find lakes and rivers beneath fast moving Antarctic ice that lubricate flow"
http://terranatur...ways.htm

Jul 25, 2012
ummmm nope. Actually, since you brought up the subject, VD, it's the Conservative ideology that will SAVE America from the welfare bums and supporters of Socialist immorality. And with that, I leave all you Liberal experts to solve the world's problems. Ta Ta
:)
-But who will save it from the bankrupt morality of people who think that posting links to gay porn sites here is some kind of SCIENCE? Haha. Makes you proud to share a religion with this sort of person eh ryggy?
http://phys.org/n...ity.html

Jul 25, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jul 25, 2012
Actually VD, Blotto got his nose out of joint because I described a dangerous form of multi-tasking in this thread about dangerous m.t.
blotto didn't like my description and called it smutty because it was about a man making love to a woman while she's cooking dinner.
http://medicalxpr...ous.html

Jul 25, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jul 26, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jul 26, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jul 26, 2012
oops! RyggTard forgot to mention the article in the left hand column of hs link strongly supporting the AGW hypothesis.

http://terranatur...tion.htm

Not to worry tho, Rygg will gleefully point out the melting ice will provide more water to absorb the excess CO2, lol :P

Jul 26, 2012
oh...now VD is into child molestation. reminds me of the "rumor" that VD is into pedophilia...is this true or not, VD?

Jul 26, 2012
"And of course the Libertarian party platform (RyggTard's party) supports the legalization of child molestation."

You are wrong as usual, VD. Look up the words 'emancipated minor' and that should give you a clue about the legality of a minor declaring him or herself to be emancipated from his/her parents or guardian. All the rest are runaways...like yourself.

Jul 26, 2012
I'm getting tired of all the idiots that come here to write stupid comments.

Jul 26, 2012
"Lake Vostok is similar in size to Lake Ontario. It is kept from freezing into a solid block by the more than two-mile-thick crust of ice across it that acts like a blanket, keeping in heat generated by geothermal energy underneath. "
http://www.msnbc....T_HjAH0g
"Liquid water at the base of the ice streams is thought to be a key factor controlling their movement. Research by Tulaczyk and others has revealed networks of subglacial lakes beneath the ice that may have substantial effects on the dynamics of the ice sheets.

How the lakes form beneath a half-mile of ice remains a mystery, but scientists believe that geothermal energy plays a critical role, heating the ice from below."
http://news.ucsc....309.html

Jul 26, 2012


Vendicar:

About that ice loss we see in the Antartica:

"What's particularly important is that this spectacular valley aligns perfectly with the recordings of ice-surface lowering and ice loss that we have witnessed with satellite observations over this area for the last twenty years."


Jul 26, 2012
Porn consumption - particularly deviant porn - is much higher among consrevative christian Americans than among the general Liberal population.
The thing about sex addicts who enjoy 'slamming' each other while cooking dinner, and then bragging about it in a public venue such as this, is 1) they are usually mentally challenged (imbecilic) and 2) tend to be serial aborters or, as some self-deluders might call them, 'miscarriages'.

They may even think that Jesus approves of this sort of behavior because 1) they believe Jesus loves them and 2) THEY think it is ok, so 3) Jesus must think it is ok as well.

It's not, and they are the dregs.

Jul 26, 2012
When you see the word warming as many times as is present in this article, you know the authors have an agenda perhaps more research money. As this graph shows, sea ice extent (10th largest) is 2.48% above 1979 to 2000 average and is even above last years extent.

http://images.sea...ary%2B3%

Jul 26, 2012
Record Antarctic sea ice extent in 2009-2010 may be related to sea level drop in those years.
http://wattsupwit...tic1.png
http://sealevel.c...-removed

New research of Antarctic ice cores shows CO2 follows temperature by a few hundred years at most.
http://wattsupwit...at-most/

Of course we dont expect the AGW paid shill, V_D, to accept this as he has proven in the past that he lacks the fourth grade education necessary to read graphs.

Jul 27, 2012
V_D Unlike the amateurish pro-AGW sites, WattsupWithThat uses data provided by Government agencies like the IPCC, NOAA, NASA, the University of Colorado, UCLA, UCSD, etc. You just denigrate it because facts contradict your opinion. The source for the referenced graph is the NOAA National Snow and Ice Data Center. I used the shorter link to WattsupWithThat because phys.org cant handle the longer link which is 845 characters. However you can try this link. The graph is the first image in the last row.

http://images.sea...p;fr=sfp

Jul 27, 2012
Vendicar, not all of us conservatives are denialists, nor are we all ignorant or liars. As an independent conservative I don't consider all liberals to be abusive or mentally defective, although many are. Responsible discourse requires understanding the logical differentiation which implies that individuals in a group do not necessarily represent the group. Don't let a niggling minority represent the entire group. Silent majorities are exactly that, silent.

As for agendas, everyone has one. The world is warming, that is a fact. Ice is melting, that is a fact. The significant questions are: Where do we go from here? How do we get there while doing the least amount of damage? What will actually work and what is just a trendy waste of time and resources? So far I have only heard a lot of yammering from our leaders and seen little action. I find it sad for my country that trillions have been basically wasted that could have put people to work on solutions.

Jul 27, 2012
Acknowledging that the question might arise concerning what I think might actually help reverse this process I'll submit the following:

1: Do not contribute directly to companies like Solyndra, instead help banks redesign mortgage and business loans to include proven energy micro-producing technologies. Provide either a further enhanced tax deduction or a loan interest rate deduction to encourage distributed energy production. Basically provide financial incentive to do the right thing.

2: Scale back and eventually stop subsidizing reproduction via the tax code. Why we are basically paying billions to people to have more children in an overpopulated world that is already straining its resources is beyond me. If you can afford to have kids, go for it, but encouraging Octomoms and more to have kids they can't support is simply and moronically stupid.

Continued:

Jul 27, 2012
3: Tax the hell out of fuel to pay for suggestion 1 and other initiatives. The high cost will make economizing our autos our homes and our lifestyles make more sense. Again; encourage people to do the right thing.

4: Contribute to education-based research, not corporate-based research. I know they are joined at the hip, but still we need as much invested into education as we can get. Government should not impede business, but it should not be picking corporate winners and losers based on political agendas. If the recent past is any indication the US political machine isn't so good at picking corporate winners anyhow, so lets stop wasting scant economic resources trying.

5: Re-design government. I find it sad that the US Department of Interior spent almost $200 million researching over 3000 strains of algae for biodiesel production over the course of 5 years and that data just sits at the University of Hawaii while the Department of Energy repeated similar research years later.

Jul 27, 2012
encourage people to do the right thing.

No, this is coercing people to the thing you think is 'right'.
Which is quite typical of the 'liberal'/'progressive'/socialist.
Steve, I hate to break it to you, you are NOT a conservative.

Jul 27, 2012
5: (Continued) Unclassified government research needs to be in a centralized database that is available to all other branches of that government. The idea that one branch has no knowledge what other branches have learned after hundreds of millions have been spent is not representative of a good use for taxpayer investment. This unclassified information from taxpayer funded research should be made available to the public after a certain period of time, perhaps 3-5 years.

Basically I want my government to be smart and agile. I want to know my country's leadership is worthy of the trust due my taxpayer/voter investment. I want smart pro growth and pro ecological policies and procedures that exist beyond any present administration. I honestly feel that if we could just get the damn lawyers and PACs for the major political parties out of government we could actually get something useful done.

Jul 27, 2012
we could actually get something useful done.

Definitely NOT a conservative.

Jul 27, 2012
encourage people to do the right thing.

No, this is coercing people to the thing you think is 'right'.
Which is quite typical of the 'liberal'/'progressive'/socialist.
Steve, I hate to break it to you, you are NOT a conservative.
It's OK. I don't consider you to be one either. Also, I have no problem with not being your type or version of conservative. Anyone from either side who cherry picks data is dishonest. I can't put it any simpler than that.

Jul 27, 2012
"Positive freedom, however desirable, often cannot be proven by material standards since in many cases the perception of the object of positive freedom, doing good, as well as the standard by which that object is considered worthwhile, varies from person to person according to the material desires, the false self, of each individual citizen and statesman. Furthermore, any material means provided by the state to guarantee the positive freedom of one individual invariably involve acts of coercion against another individual, a violation of negative or natural freedom, which usually undermines both individuals' pursuit of spiritual freedom. "
http://www.acton....-defined

So Steve, how do you plan to control the power of the state to do only the 'good' YOU think it should do?

Jul 28, 2012
"warming ocean"?

Not since 1998.

http://www.woodfo...rom:1998

Jul 28, 2012
Parker Tard's latest lie is easy to expose.

He uses hadset2sh rather than hadset2nh


sh = southern hemisphere.

VD is so dumb he doesn't know where Antarctica is.

And he's so dumb he thinks sea temperature in 1982 causes melting now.

Jul 29, 2012
"sh = southern hemisphere." - ParkerTard

Indicating that ParkerTard knowingly limited his presentation to the southern hemisphere and then claimed that this temperature change reflected a global change.

Lying is ParkerTard's normal pattern of behavior. He is of course, mentally diseased.

Here is the ocean temperature change that ParkerTard dishonestly claimed was "cooling"

http://www.woodfo...11/trend

ParkerTard can't seem to complete a paragraph without it containing at least one lie.


"sh = southern hemisphere." - ParkerTard

Indicating that ParkerTard knowingly limited his presentation to the southern hemisphere ...


Because thats where Antarctica is.

VD, try Google Maps.

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