Friday, February 16, 2007

Huge Underground Lakes Discovered Beneath Rapidly Flowing Glaciers in Antarctica

From Morning Edition:
"Researchers have discovered vast lakes under the ice in Antarctica, a find that could help scientists understand the rapid and currently unpredictable behavior of huge moving glaciers — called ice streams — that can influence global sea levels."

NPR correspondent Richard Harris interviews scientists who can help answer the question "how quickly might the earth's vast ice sheets melt, and quickly will sea level rise?"

Helen Fricker, Scripps Institution of Oceangraphy, and her colleagues report in an article soon to be published in Science that more than 145 underground lakes have been documented in Antarctica. Water in these lakes is moving rapidly from one lake to another and even out to sea, accelerating the flow of glaciers on the surface. Glaciers breaking off the continent into the Antarctic Ocean cause global increases in sea level. [listen to the story on Morning Edition]

Image from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Read the accompanying story on rifts in glaciers.

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