Vast rift valley found under Antarctic ice
SCIENTISTS have discovered a mile-deep valley – as large as the Grand Canyon – buried beneath a massive ice sheet in a remote part of western Antarctica.
The researchers, led by an expert from Aberdeen University’s School of Geosciences, believe the hidden rift valley is contributing to ice loss from the southern polar ice cap and the inexorable rise in the world’s oceans.
The discovery of the canyon below an area known as the Ferrigno Ice Stream – a region only previously surveyed 50 years ago – was made by scientists from Aberdeen University and the British Antarctic Survey.
Their findings, reported for the first time in the latest issue of Nature, reveal that the ice-filled, 100km-long rift basin is connected to the warming Antarctic Ocean.The west Antarctic ice sheet is losing ice faster than any other part of the continent.
Lead author Dr Robert Bingham, a glaciologist at Aberdeen University, discovered the rift valley while carrying out three months of fieldwork with the British Antarctic Survey.
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