British scientists have discovered rivers the size of the Thames in London flowing hundreds of miles under the Antarctica ice shelf by examining small changes in elevation, observed by ESA’s ERS-2 satellite, in the surface of the oldest, thickest ice in the region, according to an article published in Nature this week.
The finding, which came as a great surprise to the scientists, challenges the widely held assumption that subglacial lakes evolved in isolated conditions for several millions of years and raises the possibility that large floods of water from deep within the ice’s interior may have generated huge floods that reached the ocean in the past and may do so again.
Prof. Duncan Wingham, of the University College London, who led the team said: "Previously, it was thought that water moves underneath the ice by very slow seepage. But this new data shows that, every so often, the lakes beneath the ice pop off like champagne corks, releasing floods that travel very long distances."
Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
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