Sediments under a section of the West Antarctic ice sheet have been found to contain enormous amounts of water. This is the size of a hundred-meter-deep reservoir. If this is true, it means that the water is likely to be found in other parts of the White Continent. A warming globe might have an impact on Antarctica’s response, according to researchers in Science this week. Glaciers and ice streams flow more smoothly because of the water at their bases. This deep reservoir’s water flow may be slowed or accelerated depending on how much water is introduced or removed.
Climate change models will have to take it into consideration. A team led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Dr. Chloe Gustafson produced the discovery. Millennia ago, when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was considerably less than it is now, old ocean muds and sands got soaked with salty saltwater, according to her. A six-week excursion on the Whillans Ice Stream, an 800m thick, 100km wide column of fast-moving ice that powers into the Ross Ice Shelf, was the setting for Dr Gustafson’s observations.
Magnetotellurics is the name of the method she used. Deep-buried rock, sediment, ice, or water qualities may be determined by monitoring changes in the Earth’s inherent electric and magnetic fields. The dynamic hydrological network beneath Whillans was first described by Prof Fricker using satellite measurements in the 2000s. For weeks and months, she could discern there were melt rivers flowing from the lakes immediately under the surface of the ice to and from the sediments.
It is in these spaces that this recently found groundwater is stored, between the ice flow and the basement rock. For lubricating, how much groundwater may be added or removed from the system of freshwater rivers and lakes close below the ice? In addition, the observed variations in the saltiness of the top portion of the earth reservoir suggest that exchange is taking place.
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