Antarctica, the Earth’s terrestrial body that is currently a synonym for negative news due to climate change and global warming, has a novel characteristic that we must be worried about even more. A scientific crew from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway has just found a trio of underground canyons concealed under several hundred feet of ice inside Antarctica.
Global warming may accelerate these underground canyons’ ice flow into the sea
In a paper released this May in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers said these canyons are in the area where the Eastern and Western Antarctic ice sheets are situated, and the subterranean grooves are funneling the ice flow into the ocean while the two ice sheets come together.
“If weather conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these canals to flow much faster to the sea. That makes them really important, and we just didn’t know they existed before now,” explained Kate Winter, a scientist from the Northumbria University, in the UK, and the senior author of the research, cited by BBC.
These underground canyons promote the sea level rise if temperatures increase
The Antarctic ice sheets are supposed to keep losing ice as the global warming keeps on increasing and this phenomenon is occurring, as we speak, with the ice platforms that are bordering the outer parts of the Eastern and Western ice sheets.
If this occurs even further in the area of the three underground canyons, the consequent shift in mass might unleash an acceleration of the ice flow across these grooves, and might function as a circuit which could trigger a bigger breakdown of the ice sheets, thereby increasing sea level rise.
The biggest of these three canyons, which scientists named Foundation Trough, is over 350 kilometers in length and 22 kilometers in width.