Vast quantities of water have been detected in sediments that underlie a part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The volume is equivalent to a reservoir that is several hundred metres deep. The water was detected below the Whillans Ice Stream, but its presence is likely replicated elsewhere across the White Continent. That being the case, it could be an important influence on how Antarctica reacts to a warmer world, researchers tell the journal Science this week.
Water at the base of glaciers and ice streams generally works to lubricate their movement.
The transfer of water into or out of this deep reservoir has the potential therefore to either slow down or speed up ice flow.
Models that simulate future climate impacts will now have to account for it.
The detection was made...Read More