“…A huge sub-glacial basin the size of Wales has been discovered under one of the key Antarctic ice sheets that could make it more unstable and liable to disintegration, a study has found.
Radar maps of the frozen Weddell Sea area of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet show that there is a deep sub-glacial basin measuring 100 km wide and 200 km long and up to 2 km deep –
– on which the ice sheet appears to be floating.
Scientists fear that the area of the ice sheet that sticks out into the Weddell Sea, known as an ice “shelf”, could melt away more quickly than previously supposed.
This could cause the ice sheet itself to fall in to the sea –
– raising sea levels by several metres.
“We believe there’s cause for concern….We believe this region is on the threshold of change,” said Professor Martin Siegert of the University of Edinburgh –
– who led the project in conjuction with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.
“This is a significant discovery in a region of Antarctica that at present we know little about.
The area is on the brink of change – but it is impossible to predict what the impact of this change might be..”
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