Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers chart long-shrouded glacial reaches of Antarctica: Huge rivers of ice are found flowing seaward from continent's deep interior

Date:
August 19, 2011
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
A vast network of previously unmapped glaciers on the move from thousands of miles inland to the Antarctic coast has been charted for the first time by scientists. The findings will be critical to tracking future sea rise from climate change.

Antarctica glacial velocity map.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Irvine

A vast network of previously unmapped glaciers on the move from thousands of miles inland to the Antarctic coast has been charted for the first time by UC Irvine scientists. The findings will be critical to tracking future sea rise from climate change.

"This is like seeing a map of all the oceans' currents for the first time. It's a game changer for glaciology," said UCI earth system science professor Eric Rignot, lead author of a paper on the ice flow published online in Science Express. "We're seeing amazing flows from the heart of the continent that had never been described before."

Rignot, who is also with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and UCI associate project scientists Jeremie Mouginot and Bernd Scheuchl used billions of points of data captured by European, Japanese and Canadian satellites to weed out cloud cover, solar glare and land features. With the aid of NASA technology, they painstakingly pieced together the shape and velocity of glacial formations, including the huge bulk of previously uncharted East Antarctica, which comprises 77 percent of the continent.

Like viewing a completed jigsaw puzzle, Rignot said, the men were stunned when they stood back and took in the full picture. They discovered a new ridge splitting the 5.4 million-square-mile landmass from east to west. They found unnamed formations moving up to 800 feet each year across immense plains sloping toward the Southern Ocean -- and in a different manner than past models of ice migration.

"These researchers created something deceptively simple: a map of the speed and direction of ice in Antarctica," said Thomas Wagner, a cryospheric program scientist with NASA's MEaSUREs program, which funded the work. "But they used it to figure out something fundamentally new: that ice moves by slipping at its bed, not just at the coast but all the way to the deep interior of Antarctica."

"That's critical knowledge for predicting future sea-level rise," he added. "It means that if we lose ice at the coasts from the warming ocean, we open the tap to the ice in the interior."

The work was completed during a period called the International Polar Year, and is the first such study since 1957. Collaborators working under the aegis of the Space Task Group were NASA, European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, as well as the Alaska Satellite Facility, and MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates Ltd.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time that a tightly knit collaboration of civilian space agencies has worked together to create such a huge dataset of this type," said Yves Crevier of the Canadian Space Agency. "It is a dataset of lasting scientific value in assessing the extent and rate of change in polar regions."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Rignot, J. Mouginot, B. Scheuchl. Ice Flow of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1126/science.1208336

Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Researchers chart long-shrouded glacial reaches of Antarctica: Huge rivers of ice are found flowing seaward from continent's deep interior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818142741.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2011, August 19). Researchers chart long-shrouded glacial reaches of Antarctica: Huge rivers of ice are found flowing seaward from continent's deep interior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818142741.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Researchers chart long-shrouded glacial reaches of Antarctica: Huge rivers of ice are found flowing seaward from continent's deep interior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818142741.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins