Massive Landforms Have Just Been Discovered Under The Antarctic Ice Sheet

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Kondratuk Aleksei/Shutterstock.com

Scientists have discovered massive landforms lurking under Antarctica – some as tall as the Eiffel Tower – and they’ve been actively carving deep channels into the ice flow above.

These landforms, which are five times bigger than those left behind by former ice sheets in Scandinavia and North America, are now thought to be contributing to the thinning of the Antarctic ice shelves, and that could have big consequences for the region’s stability. 

Thanks to ancient ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere that have long since retreated, scientists knew that landforms can grow for many metres below the surface.

The Scandinavian Ice Sheet was one of the largest glacial masses of thePleistocene epoch (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago), and in its prime, covered most of northern Europe in ice spanning about 6.6 million square kilometres (2.5 million square miles).

Below the ice sheet, which was about 3,000 metres thick (9,800 feet), various landforms began to take shape, and for thousands of years, they mitigated a complex cycle of evaporation and precipitation to keep the ice cycling through the ocean.

Now that Scandinavia’s ancient ice sheet has retreated, these strange landforms – called eskers – have been exposed. 

You can see some similar landforms left behind by an ancient ice sheet in western Sweden below:

FulufjalleteskerExposed esker at Fulufjället, Sweden. Credit: Hanna Lokrantz, Geological Survey of Sweden

Scientists have long suspected that similar features could be lurking under our current ice sheets, but no one could have prepared researchers from the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Germany for what they would find under Antarctica.

TO BE CONTINUED ON THEIR WEBSITE
http://www.sciencealert.com/massive-landforms-have-just-been-discovered-under-the-antarctic-ice-sheet

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