Antarctica has extensive network of lakes and rivers: Research

Antarctica has extensive network of lakes and rivers: researchers say

The revelation of an extensive network of lakes and rivers transporting liquid meltwater across Antarctica’s ice shelves has suggested that the frozen continent is a far more dynamic place than scientists previously thought.

A fresh analysis of decades of satellite imagery and aerial images has just revealed the existence of as many as 700 systems of connected pools and streams in the region.

Alison Banwell, a glaciologist with the University of Cambridge, pointed out that it is the first time that scientists have detected an extensive network of meltwater features and drainage systems across Antarctica’s ice shelves.

Commenting on the new study, Banwell said, “A handful of previous studies have documented surface lakes and streams on individual ice shelves over a span of a few years. But the authors’ work is the first to extensively map meltwater features and drainage systems on all of Antarctica’s ice shelves, over multiple decades.”

The researchers cautioned that the transport of moving water onto and across the continent’s ice shelves could make them more vulnerable to collapse amid increasing global warming.

The researchers reported their findings in the Wednesday (April 19th) edition of the journal Nature.

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