Massive Hidden Underground System in Antarctica Poses Threat To Sea Levels

Antarctica Hidden System Underground - Photo by Cassie Matias on Unsplash

Huge Groundwater System Discovered Under Antarctica – Gizmodo

Researchers found water deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, which could impact how scientists predict the speed of ice moving toward the ocean, a significant contributor to global sea-level rise.

If all the ice in Antarctica melted, it would raise sea levels by 60 meters (200 feet), completely submerging Florida and Bangladesh. But only some of the ice is poised to melt shortly.

We know how fast the ice moves, but we don’t know why. Water directly below the ice can help the ice move more quickly, and the Whillans Ice Stream can move closer to 800 meters per year.

In 2018, Dr. Key and three colleagues shipped out to Antarctica and set up sensors to measure groundwater flowing through the sediments hundreds of meters below the Whillans Ice Stream. They found ten times as much water underground as water flowing directly below the ice shelf.

A new study suggests that saltier water exists beneath ice sheets and that this water may have melted from the ice thousands of years ago. This water could slow down the ice-sheet movement or make it move faster.

Scientists are still uncovering some factors that determine how fast Antarctica’s ice is moving.

Read more on this at the following additional news sources:

  1. Huge Groundwater System Discovered Under Antarctica  Gizmodo
  2. ‘Giant MRI of Antarctica’ reveals ‘fossil seawater’ under ice sheet  Livescience.com
  3. In sediments below Antarctic ice, scientists discover a giant groundwater system  Phys.org
  4. Breakthrough discovery of groundwater beneath Antarctic ice sheet – and what it may mean for sea level rise  The Independent
  5. Antarctica breakthrough as reservoir found hiding beneath ice: ‘Transforms understanding’  Express
John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.