Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists probe Antarctic glaciers for clues to past and future sea level

29.10.2008
International team exploring two of the last uncharted regions of Earth, the Aurora and Wilkes Subglacial Basins, to learn about past climate change and future impacts on global sea level

Scientists from the U.S., U.K. and Australia have teamed up to explore two of the last uncharted regions of Earth, the Aurora and Wilkes Subglacial Basins, immense ice-buried lowlands in Antarctica with a combined area the size of Mexico. The research could show how Earth's climate changed in the past and how future climate change will affect global sea level.

Scientists believe the barely observed Aurora Subglacial Basin, which lies in East Antarctica, could represent the weak underbelly of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, the largest remaining body of ice on Earth. Until recently the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which covers the two basins, had been considered a stable ice reservoir unlikely to contribute to rising sea level in the near future.

Limited soundings of the ice upstream of Australia's Casey Station, however, reveal a vast basin with its base lying kilometers below sea level. The basin could make the East Antarctic Ice Sheet more vulnerable in a warming world. Satellite data show that Totten Glacier, which dominates the ice of the Aurora Subglacial Basin, appears to be losing ice at its downstream edge.

The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences has teamed up with the University of Edinburgh and the Australian Antarctic Division as part of a major International Polar Year project to study this vast area using multiple airborne instruments.

Beginning this December, the ICECAP (Investigating the Cryospheric Evolution of the Central Antarctic Plate) team will fly an upgraded World War II-era DC-3 aircraft with a suite of geophysical instruments to map the thickness of the ice sheet and measure the texture, composition, density and topography of rocks below the ice.

In the past, scientists surveying the Antarctic ice sheets relied either on heavy cargo planes with poor fuel efficiency but long range, or lighter planes with better fuel efficiency but short range. To fly lighter planes far into the interior of the continent, support planes have to fly in additional fuel from a coastal port, multiplying fuel costs several times.

With the upgraded DC-3, the ICECAP team gets a combination of efficiency and range, minimizing the project's carbon footprint at a time when high oil prices have caused federal funding agencies to scale back scientific studies in the polar regions.

"We're getting much more science done with less oil using this old airframe with modern engines," said Don Blankenship, research scientist at the Jackson School's Institute for Geophysics and principal investigator for ICECAP.

Data from the project will help model East Antarctic ice stability, forecast how ice might react to climate change, and show its potential impact on global sea level.

The chemistry of the thick ice might also solve a mystery about past climate. Antarctic ice cores have already revealed aspects of Earth's climate dating back 800,000 years. Farther back, around one million years ago, Earth's climate changed in a way that caused ice ages to come and go much more rapidly than before. Scientists have long wondered what caused this shift. Australian researchers with ICECAP will search for sites to drill new ice cores with the potential to extend the ice core record to beyond one million years.

J.B. Bird | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utexas.edu
http://www.ipy.org/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>