Researchers have found vast bodies of water underneath one of the biggest Antarctica glaciers, giving crucial insight into the possible outcomes of global climate change, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has revealed.
Measuring 30 km wide and up to 2 km thick, the Totten Glacier catchment is the largest in East Antarctica and has the potential to raise sea levels by up to 7 metres, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
Seismic instruments were used to discover what lies below the mass of ice, detonating contained explosions around two metres below the surface and measuring the echo.
"This research is critical in helping us predict how the melting of Antarctica glaciers will change the world's oceans in the future," said Ben Galton-Fenzi, AAD glaciologist.
The speed at which the glacier will shift and therefore melt into the ocean is determined partially by what material it sits on top of.
"If there's bedrock under the glacier, it's sticky and will move more slowly, but if there's water or soft sediments, the glacier will move faster," Galton-Fenzi said.
"This study has shown us for the first time that there are substantial amounts of water contained in subglacial lakes, not far from the ocean, that we know very little about."
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