Miles beneath the ice of Antarctica, there’s a radioactive heat source which is slowly melting the ice from beneath, researchers believe.
Researchers flew planes over the ice using radar to ‘see’ two miles beneath the ice, where the hot material seems to be (very slowly) melting the ice.
The researchers believe the heat source is radioactive rocks and hot water from inside Earth’s crust.
While Antarctica isn’t going to melt away overnight, it could have important knock-on effects when combined with climate change, according to new measurements by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
Researcher Tom Jordan said, ‘The process of melting we observe has probably been going on for thousands or maybe even millions of years and isn’t directly contributing to ice sheet change.
‘However, in the future the extra water at the ice sheet bed may make this region more sensitive to external factors such as climate change.’
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‘This was a really exciting project, exploring one of the last totally un-surveyed regions on our planet.
‘Our results were quite unexpected, as many people thought this region of Antarctica was made of ancient and cold rocks, which had little impact on the ice sheet above.
‘We show that even in the ancient continental interior, the underlying geology can have a significant impact on the ice.