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A hidden source of heat underground seems to melt Antarctica

When it comes to measuring ice loss at the poles and predicting what might happen, scientists need as much exact…

When it comes to measuring ice loss at the poles and predicting what might happen, scientists need as much exact information as they can get – and a new study suggests that there is a great source of geothermal heat in eastern Antarctica that we have It has not yet been incorporated into our calculations.

Is in this area seem to melt from the bottom up, according to radar readings taken by an airplane flying over the frozen continent. The radar could penetrate three kilometers (almost two miles) of ice to map the conditions below it.

When the base of the Antarctic ice is melting, melting water flows and fills underglacial lakes downstream.

Although this process can not be a major contributor to ice loss right now, the International Research Group says that it could cause faster melting in the future, as water and ice can be easier to fly.

“The melting process we observe has probably been in thousands or maybe even millions of years and does not directly contribute to ice change,” said lead researcher Tom Jordan from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

“But in the future, the ice-water extravagas can make this region more vulnerable to external factors such as climate change.”

The expert group believes that radioactive rocks and hot water sprayed from within the crust contribute to this further melting, based on observations taken to 750 kilometers (country) from land.

Learn more: Amazing pictures show what the daily life of Antarctica research stations is really

Antarctica ice ponds can melt even faster. Mario Tama / Getty Images

Without the latest in radar technology, we would only have surface observations to go off. The PolarGAP project that this research is part of is designed to fill in some of the gaps left by readings from the now retired GOCE satellite.

As you may remember, data from GOCE – Gravity Field and Steady State Ocean Circulation Explorer – was used to chart the Antarctic terrain in a study published earlier this month by measuring small fluctuations in gravity pressure.

Being able to map the hidden contours and important sources of heat under the ice is crucial to elaborate what will happen to Antarctica in the coming years.

And now, the PolarGAP project has given some important observations as part of this mission. We can not be sure of what causes melting, but hot stones and heated water hypothesis seem most likely – what future studies can take into account.

It is also not the only newly discovered heat source in Antarctica. A survey published last year suggests that a large amount of underground heating will take place in the West Antarctica, perhaps melting the ice faster than it can accumulate.

Researchers study the hot rocks to see how they will affect future ice change. AP / Natacha Pisarenko

In July, researchers announced that they had discovered what could be another volcanic heat source in Antarctica, this time under the Pine Island Glacier.

It is worth repeating that researchers do not suggest that these sources of heat suddenly turn Antarctica into water within a few years, but there are additional factors to allow quotas for when we measure the ongoing effects of climate change.

Since the newly identified sources of geothermal sources have probably been around for a long time, we are not lost in the hook when it comes to causing accelerated ice melting in the northern and southern poles.

The next step is about how these hot rocks can affect future ice change.

“This was a really exciting project, exploring one of the last completely undiscovered regions on our planet,” said Jordan. “Our results were quite unexpected, because many believed that this Antarctica region was made of ancient and cold stones, which had little impact on the ice above.”

“We show that the underlying geologist even in the ancient continental decor can have a significant impact on the ice.”

The research has been published in Scientific Reports .

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