Canyons, Antartica

In a shocking discovery, scientists have discovered that the deep troughs are running for hundreds of kilometres and it is cutting through tall mountains. These secret canyons are not visible at the snowy surface of the continent, and it is said to be the bad news for the planet.

A group of scientists who are from the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway has discovered the three canyons which are present beneath the hundreds of feet of ice in the interior of Antarctica. The findings were published in a paper which is published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, and they said that the canyons are present in the region which lies between East and West Antarctica Ice Sheets meet. The deep subterranean grooves are channelising the ice flow into the sea because two sheets come together.

According to the Kate Winter, who is the researcher at Northumbria University in the UK and also the lead author on the paper said, “If climate conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these troughs to flow a lot faster towards the sea. That makes them important, and we didn’t know they existed before now.”

Dr Kate said that the canyons played the key role in controlling the flow of the ice. When Antarctica becomes thin due to the warm climate or global warming, the scientists suspect that these channels will then accelerate the mass towards the ocean and it will then increase the sea levels. These secret channels take the ice from the centre of the continent towards the coast.  It is believed that the ice sheets of Antarctica are getting thin already. This will fuel the acceleration of ice flow through these channels, and it will be acting as a feedback loop which drives ice-sheet disintegration and helps in contributing the sea level rise.

The largest canyons are named as Foundation Trough, and the total canyons found in the continent are three. This Foundation Trough is said to be about 350 Kilometres long and about 22 miles wide. Dr Winter said, “Therefore if climate conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these troughs to flow a lot faster towards the sea. That makes them important, and we didn’t know they existed before now.”

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