(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have described for the first time a huge reservoir of groundwater under the Antarctic ice sheet, which is able to control the ice flows of the continent.
Researchers have long suspected the presence of a large reservoir of groundwater under Antarctica, but only recently were they able to find out for sure.
In the study, published in the journal Science , scientists used a unique geophysical survey technique that used magnetotelluric (MT) imaging to find and map subglacial groundwater below an ice flow.
What are ice streams?
The ice streams of Antarctica are a relatively fast moving stream within the ice sheet. Their speed is about 1.8 meters per day, and they account for 90% of the ice flowing from the continent (from the interior to the outskirts).
Until the new study, scientists believed that ice flows were shallow systems. However, everything changed with the discovery of a huge reservoir of groundwater.
The depth of this reservoir is from half a kilometer to 2 kilometers. It contains a mixture of sea water and fresh water (from the glacier).
Moreover, the deeper – the saltier the water. Compared to these reservoirs, the lakes under Antarctica are tiny bodies of water.
The researchers believe that the discovery of the reservoirs will change the understanding of the processes of Antarctica’s ice flows. They also believe that similar groundwater exists elsewhere.
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