October 28, 2023: The analysis group, which additionally concerned scientists at Durham University, used satellite tv for pc information and radio-echo sounding strategies to map a 32,000 km2 space of land beneath the huge ice sheet.
They discovered a landscape that seems to have been shaped by rivers no less than 14 million years in the past and probably even earlier than the preliminary progress of the East Antarctic ice round 34 million years in the past.
This newly discovered landscape consists of historic valleys and ridges, not dissimilar in size-and-scale to the glacially-modified landscape of North Wales, UK.
Its existence implies a long-term temperature stability of the ice sheet within the space investigated by the researchers.
A satellite tv for pc picture exhibiting the ridges and valleys of the traditional landscape, with the ridges highlighted in crimson and the valleys highlighted in blue.
The examine has been revealed within the journal Nature Communications. Co-author Neil Ross, Professor of Polar Science and Environmental Geophysics at Newcastle University, stated: “It is outstanding that this landscape, ‘hidden in plain sight’ for a few years, can inform us a lot in regards to the early, and long-term, historical past of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, in addition to serving to us to know the way it may evolve in response to future local weather change. This has been one thing of a gradual burn venture, however one which has now come to fruition in an thrilling paper involving an excellent analysis group.”
Graphic above ‘lifts’ the East Antarctic Ice Sheet out of bed landscape and highlights the examine space
Co-author Professor Stewart Jamieson, within the Department of Geography, Durham University, stated: “The land beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is much less well-known than the floor of Mars.
“And that’s an issue as a result of that landscape controls the way in which that ice in Antarctica flows, and it controls the way in which it’d reply to previous, current and future local weather change.
“So, we’re investigating a small a part of that landscape in additional element to see what it might inform us in regards to the evolution of the landscape and the evolution of the ice sheet. And what we discover is an historic land floor that has not been eroded by the ice sheet and as an alternative it seems to be prefer it was created by rivers earlier than the ice got here alongside.
”This tells us that there hasn’t been a variety of change on this explicit space, which signifies that though this a part of the ice sheet could have retreated throughout hotter instances previously, the circumstances at this web site probably didn’t change a lot, and that helps us perceive how the ice sheet may reply to future and ongoing warming.”
The discovery builds on earlier work by this group who, in collaboration with different researchers, have mapped out hidden mountain ranges, canyon programs and lakes beneath the ice in Antarctica.
Although the landscape beneath the ice sheet just isn’t seen to the bare eye, satellite tv for pc photographs captured over the area present small undulations of the ice sheet’s floor that present clues in regards to the sub-ice landscape.
In a couple of locations, the landscape’s existence has been confirmed through the use of radio-echo sounding from planes to see by means of the ice and map the form of the land beneath the ice sheet.
A aircraft with a propeller within the air Description mechanically generated
The aircraft flown over Antarctica to gather the unique survey information that underpins the brand new analysis paper. Credit: ICECAP
The analysis group proposes it’s probably that there might be different, as but undiscovered, historic landscapes hidden beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Professor Jamieson added: “We’ll proceed exploring the landscape, doing our greatest to fill in gaps the place surveys don’t exist, and utilizing that data to know how the ice sheet and its underlying landscape have modified over their lengthy historical past.”
The survey information assortment that underpins this work was supported by the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA.