By using a powerful radar to scan the ice in Antarctica, researchers from Northumbria University, UK, have made a breathtaking discovery. In the west part of the continent, they spotted some mountainous geology and traces of Antarctic canyons of impressive size. While they somehow expected such formations to hide there, it was their size that took them by surprise.
The Antarctic canyons took researchers by surprise
Researchers knew there was something hiding behind the ice in western Antarctica. This way, they decided to use a special radar to peek beneath the ice and perform some aerial studies of this region. When this study was over, they expected to find some formations that resembled mountains and other similar geological formations.
However, what they found took them by surprise. Apart from some mountainous features, the ice hid three massive Antarctic canyons. The biggest of them was Foundation Trough that sported a length of over 215 miles and width of over 20 miles. If you thought this was big, the second Patuxent Trough also features an impressive size, with 180 miles in length and the third Offset Rift Basin with over 90 miles.
The Antarctic geology can reveal more about reactions to climate change
These Antarctic canyons aren’t only scary because of their size, as their effect can be even more damaging. If global warming keeps causing the Antarctic ice to thin, these formations might cause some serious trouble. More precisely, the flow of melted ice to occur more rapidly from the center to the sea. As a result, sea levels will rapidly increase.
However, the discovery of these formations is extremely important for researchers. After mapping the exact distribution of the Antarctic canyons, they might get a clear picture of how the entire continent is reacting to climate change and its damaging effects.
Also, this discovery marks another landmark. This is the first time when researchers make public the results of PolarGAP, the radar that keeps an eye on Antarctica. They will continue studying the region and find out more about what lies beneath the ice. The study on these impressive Antarctic canyons was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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