Tunnels As Tall As The Eiffel Tower Discovered Under Antarctic Ice Sheets

The data revealed that water moved beneath the ice in concentrated channels, similar to rivers. Scientists previously thought that meltwater flowed underneath ice sheets in more evenly-spread, thin, continuous sheets. Researchers used a specially-modified Twin Otter aircraft to make the discovery. The plane, designed to operate in remote environment, was fitted with remote sensors that provided scientists with data on the land, ice and sea that it flew over.

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey Base and researchers from a number of UK universities made the discovery at the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Pictured: A British Antarctic Survey base

A British Antarctic Survey Twin Otter aircraft, similar to the one pictured, was equipped with special radar equipment that provided scientists with data on the land, ice and sea that it flew over

The data revealed that water moved beneath the ice in concentrated channels, similar to rivers. Scientists had previously thought that meltwater moved in more evenly spread sheets of water

 

Specially-designed radar equipment deciphered the tunnels under the ice – it can also be used to pick out layers within the ice itself.

Longer-term monitoring from the air can be used to record the break-up of ice sheets or atmospheric changes.

The British team will now use its newfound knowledge of the under-ice tunnels to predict how exactly that ice shelf will melt in response to climate change.

The researchers published a paper about their work in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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