Antarctica is melting more than scientists thought, and it's creating giant waterfalls

Antarctica Tabular Icebergs. Wolfgang Kaehle—LightRocket via Getty Images

Antarctic melt-water lakes are far more common than once thought and could destabilise glaciers, potentially lifting sea levels by metres as global warming sets in, scientists said Wednesday. During the summer, which corresponds to the Northern latitude winter, an extensive network of some 700 rivers, channels, and streams pop up.

All that makes meltwater a little worrisome for climate scientists, but there may be a silver lining, at least according to one of the published papers.

"This is not in the future-this is widespread now and has been for decades", said Jonathan Kingslake, a glaciologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and lead author of the study, in a press release.

Dr Jeremy Ely, from Sheffield University's geography department, said: "If melted completely, Antarctica's ice sheets contain enough water to raise global sea levels by around 58 metres".

Iceberg shaped by melting, Drake Passage, Palmer Peninsula, Antarctica. The ice shelves will "still become more unstable as the climate warms", Dr. Banwell says, but they might not break up as rapidly as otherwise thought.

The first continent-wide survey of meltwater on Antarctica found alarming high numbers of pools, ponds, channels, rivers, and streams flowing across all sides of the continent.

The survey also showed that numerous meltwater streams and channels begin near mountains poking through glaciers or in areas with little or no snow, exposing the underlying bluish ice.

No comprehensive view of Antarctica's surface melt features existed.

Netflix to Hit 100 Million Subscribers This Weekend
Netflix has expanded around the world over the last few years, betting that its USA formula would pay off in other countries. Netflix increased its number of members to 98.75 million, including 94.36 million paid, in the first quarter of 2017.

Images and photographs of the surface water were taken from military aircraft from the year 1947 and satellite imagery from 1973. But no one had ever done a systematic survey of Antarctica's meltwater systems.

What they found surprised everyone. Because the temperature keeps on fluctuating many newly observed streams have already made their way from the interior out onto ice shelves, or have originated on the shelves themselves. As the ice melts, liquid water will create a path downhill through overlying snow. "Meltwater is still a bad thing", she says, but it's "not always going to be a death to ice shelves". The Scott team noted that the "noise of running water from a lot of streams sounded odd after the usual Antarctic silence", and fell into several of the ponds and streams.

But the main damage to ice shelves comes from ocean water eroding their underbellies. Water is heavy, and the weight can cause the ice below these lakes to crack.

It's not clear yet from the data whether the meltwater rivers have been growing. "This process might have been responsible for the large-scale break-up of Antarctica's Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002, when more than 2000 lakes drained in just a few days". As NASA geophycisist Ala Khazendar told NPR in January, "Ice shelves are very important".

Numerous newly mapped channels start in mountains that poke between glaciers, or in areas where winds have whipped the snow covering off bluish ice. Banwell, who wrote a Nature commentary on the two papers, was not involved with the research. In other regions, the meltwater surfaces around rocky mountain outcroppings which peak out of the ice. He said it was "a stretch", though to say that surface rivers like that on the Nansen shelf would protect the ice.

The movement "changes the way we think about the impact of meltwater", Dr. Bell says. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

The Weather Company's primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives.

Related News:

  • Poland hoping for 'development of relations' between EU, Turkey after referendum

    Poland hoping for 'development of relations' between EU, Turkey after referendum

    Turkey's main opposition party has filed a formal request seeking the referendum to be annulled because of voting irregularities. Turkey's society is badly divided, with at least half the population opposed to the slide into authoritarianism under Erdogan.

    How to watch Game 3 of Cavs-Pacers

    Smith (5) in the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series , Monday, April 17, 2017, in Cleveland. I've got to depend on you to look after my child in the most vulnerable state and I have to depend on you and rely on you'.

    State lawmaker: Canada doesn't grasp urgency of milk crisis

    Meanwhile, President Donald Trump addressed the urgency of the issue while speaking in Kenosha Tuesday. There's also "flat-line growth" in other dairy manufacturing sectors within NY , he added.
  • Georgia Democrat puts Donald Trump's popularity to the test in Congress vote

    Late Tuesday night, President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to Georgia Republicans and celebrated a victory. Jackson also became part of his election campaign by recording a one-minute radio ad urging people to go out and vote.
    Reus rues sloppy start in Dortmund's Champions League exit

    Reus rues sloppy start in Dortmund's Champions League exit

    Monaco was stretched down both flanks but, equally, Dortmund was increasingly exposed to Monaco's slick counterattacking. In another quarterfinal match, there was a goal fest as hosts Monaco hammered German club Borussia Dortmund 3-1.

    United States rental rises at slowest in five years

    Even in hot West Coast markets, where rental growth is notoriously strong, rent appreciation is starting to slow. Mortgage rates are down from their December highs, but still well above where they were before the election.
  • Iran's FM reacts to Tillerson's criticism on nuclear deal

    Iran's FM reacts to Tillerson's criticism on nuclear deal

    In his letter to Ryan, Tillerson said that "Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods". On the one hand, Trump wants to show he's tougher than Obama was, but on the other hand, he's not ready to rip up the deal.
    WPD moving to new uniforms

    WPD moving to new uniforms

    What uniforms are available nationwide? The Wichita Police Department will be providing officers with new blue uniforms. The department made the announcement Thursday morning via social media. "We started out with a blank slate".

    Florida voters may get a say over casino gambling

    For almost 200 years, Florida has had one of the strictest voting regulations in the country when it comes to released felons. Rick Scott took office in 2011, he largely reversed the policy to restore felon voting rights instituted under former Gov.
  • EPA chief delays methane rule at behest of oil and gas firms

    Pruitt was scheduled to to tour the complex where roughly 1,000 people were ordered evacuated because of lead contamination. Chanting crowds weaved through streets of East Chicago on Wednesday near a Superfund site .
    Think tank linked to Putin developed plans to sway US elections

    Think tank linked to Putin developed plans to sway US elections

    A Russian government think tank developed plans in 2016 to damage former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's election chances, Reuters reports .

    Fox stock holds steady following O'Reilly firing

    Burgess told the panel that she came to Fox News through a temp agency and was working for a colleague of O'Reilly's. The ratings impact of Bill O'Reilly's firing will be measured over months, not days.


Most liked

Nats' Scherzer too much for Braves
But Washington has dominated its division rival over the last two-plus season, improving to 37-13 over their last 50 meetings. The Nationals snapped Atlanta's five-game winning streak and handed the Braves their first loss at new SunTrust Park.

Killer of NFL's Will Smith gets 25 years for manslaughter
As we previously reported, the New Orleans Saints star was shot and killed by Hayes after a road rage incident on April 9, 2016. His family and friends were in the courtroom as well Wednesday and some may be called to the stand Thursday to show support.

Bible verse written on Aaron Hernandez's forehead
Hernandez had been housed in a single cell in a general population unit at the maximum-security state prison in Shirley. When asked if he accepted the ruling, Baez said, "We'll accept the determination after an investigation is complete".

Embattled anchor Bill O'Reilly's future at Fox News looks uncertain
O'Reilly said in an April 1 statement that he had been unfairly targeted because of his public prominence. Before and after the accusations, O'Reilly remained one of the most popular commentators on cable news.

Albert the Gators' mascot shields a kid from a foul ball
Albert Gator is enjoying Internet fame, after protecting a young fan from a foul ball and instead taking the brunt of the bounce. The mascot uses his arms and body to protect the boy and the foul ball ends up bouncing off Albert Gator's foam-filled head.

Favorite White House tradition rolls on
One widely shared US Weekly article cited "a family insider" as saying Melania Trump was considering staying in Trump Tower. In the footage, the U.S. president signs the red cap with a black marker before throwing it into a swarm of supporters.

Pakistan student killed over 'blasphemous' Facebook post
CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak has marked the synopsis of a legal investigation into the murder Mashal Khan. According to a Dawn report , a total of 45 people have been detained in connection with the mob attack.

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro Launched in India: Price, Specifications and Release date
Samsung was forced to recall it late a year ago after reports of the device overheating and exploding. Samsung has launched yet another "Pro" device in India, the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro.

Venezuela teen dies after shot near protests
Unidad Venezuela, a coalition of opposition parties, also organized marches in each of the country's 24 states. Treasury secretary. "We're watching it closely and working with others.to communicate those concerns".

Nintendo Switch earns $271.8 million in USA alone
Switch sold more than 906,000 units in March in the United States, according to NPD Group sales data, Nintendo announced. It is confirmed that more than nine-hundred thousand units of Nintendo Switch was sold last month.

APNewsBreak: Baby orca! Last killer whale born at SeaWorld
The orca's birth in San Antonio, Texas , follows a decision in 2016 by the Florida-based company to stop breeding killer whales . Spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson Beasley said birth control and "social management" would prevent future orca breeding.

Manchester United partners with the new Facebook augmented reality developer platform
Facebook isn't the only corporation getting in on these new developments, but it's definitely the one investing the most into it. If you haven't noticed the little camera on the top left hand side of your Facebook app maybe it's time you checked out it.

GOP health bill amendment to revive Obamacare repeal effort
The notion of border adjustment has received a cold reception in the Senate, and Trump has given conflicting comments about it. California, Connecticut, Maryland and OR have May 1 deadlines for rate submissions, and NY plans to keep its May 15 deadline.

Martial has to start doing what I like, warns Mourinho
We have Daley Blind, who has experience in the position, and I think it is time for Jones and Smalling to be courageous - to risk. For Anderlecht , Andy Najar is still recovering from an injury, whilst Lukasz Teodorczyk is fully fit after being injured.

1200 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists launch hunger strike
Polls suggest that the 58-year-old Barghouti is the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed the 82-year-old Abbas. Israeli Prison Service (IPS) spokesman Assaf Librati warned that the hunger strikers would face punishment.