December 7, 2022

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Bilde av elveløp under Antarktis.

Unknown river could provide new knowledge on ice melt and sea level rise in Antarctica – NRK Trøndelag

Just imagine Antarctica. What do you think?

Maybe snow, wind and dramatic ice formations?

Most of us have an idea of ​​what the landscape looks like at the South Pole. At least on the surface.

But beneath the ice is a world of its own.

New research sheds light on what lies beneath the ice.

Photo: Eivind Molde / NRK

A hidden structure in the snow

It’s been decades since scientists discovered something that amazed them. Antarctica has a large amount of water under its ice Form of hidden lakes.

At first, scientists thought these lakes were separate. Then they started wondering if there was any connection between them.

Now they have found new answers.

Using aircraft radar and models etc By simulating water currents, experts have mapped what happens to the ice.

And the result is startling. Researchers discovered a large network of rivers. These rivers connect the lakes together.

“We’re just beginning to understand that whole systems are down there,” says glaciologist Martin Siegert of Imperial College London. Press release.

One of the discovered rivers is 460 kilometers long. This is longer than the distance between Oslo and Trondheim.

Researchers now believe that hidden rivers can help us find answers to important climate questions.

Ice in Antarctica.

The river is hidden far from the surface.

Photo: Svein Østerhus at NORCE

Live your own life

Tore Hattermann is a researcher at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. He says they had hypotheses that such systems might exist beneath the ice.

Now it has been confirmed.

It is very unique, he tells NRK.

Hatterman hopes the findings will help us understand how the ice in Antarctica is melting. It can also provide answers as to how quickly the process is taking place.

There is a difference in how the ice melts at different poles. In summer, the temperature of the Greenland ice sheet in the Arctic becomes so high that the ice melts at the surface. This is not the case in Antarctica, the researcher explains.

There you have an unknown network of rivers under the ice that live their own lives. As the atmosphere warms, the ice begins to melt on the surface.

Will do later Deeper rivers are more powerful.

Both parts improve melting. This is something we need to pay close attention to, says Hatterman.

Portrait of Tore Hatterman, an oceanographer working for the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Tore Hattermann is a marine researcher at the Norwegian Polar Institute. He thinks the new research findings are exciting.

Photo: Jörg Brozek

The missing piece

The researchers behind it study How hidden rivers affect the melting of ice in Antarctica is unknown. But they have a theory:

As water flows through the river, it contributes to the melting of the surrounding ice. As more water flows through this drain, the solution increases.

Water helps disrupt the ice so it melts and floats in the ocean. Then the sea level rises. It can be repeated have major effects on climate.

Torrey Hatterman explains that it is important to take into account the contribution of such rivers under the ice to estimate how much the sea will rise.

The researchers behind the study hope the river they discovered on the aircraft radar could provide new answers.

We know which parts of Antarctica are losing ice and how much. But we don’t know why, says Dr Christine Dow of the University of Waterloo.

He believes innovation may be the missing piece of the puzzle.

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