Researchers have discovered mountain ranges and three large, deep subglacial valleys concealed beneath Antarctica .
The results, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters are the first to be obtained from extensive data on ice blasting radar in the Antarctic as part of the European Space Agency's PolarGAP project
] there is extensive satellite data that helps to map the Earth's surface and its deep interior, there was a gap around the South Pole area, which is not covered by satellites due to the inclination of its orbits.
The PolarGAP project was therefore to close the gap in the satellite data coverage of the South Pole and in particular to record the missing gravitational data.
Airborne radar data was also collected to allow mapping of the rocky surface hidden beneath the ice cover. The data shows that the topography controls how fast ice flows between the eastern and western Antarctic ice sheets.
The team, led by researchers from Northumbria University in the UK, has for the first time mapped three extensive, subglacial valleys in the western Antarctic
These valleys could be important in the future as they contribute to the Channel ice flow from the center of the continent towards the coast.
If climate change makes the ice sheet thinner, these troughs could increase the speed at which ice flows from the center of the Antarctic to the sea, increasing the global sea level .
The largest valley, known as Foundation Trough, is 35 kilometers wide for more than 350 kilometers. Its length corresponds to the distance from London to Manchester, while its width is more than one-and-a-half times the length of New York's Manhattan Island.
The other two valleys are the same size. The Patuxent Trough is more than 300 kilometers long and over 1
"Because there were gaps in the satellite data around the South Pole, nobody knew exactly what was there, and we're excited to release the first results of the PolarGAP project," Kate Winter, Research Fellow at Northumbria University.
"We now understand that the mountain region prevents ice from the east Antarctica flows through the West Antarctic to the coast, and we have discovered three subglacial valleys in the western Antarctic, which could be important in the future," said Winter continue.
"As the ice sheet thins or retreats, topographically controlled The corridors could ease the increased ice flow further inland and cause the West Antarctic ice to move," she said.
"This in turn would increase the speed and speed with which ice from the ice flows from the center of the Antarctic to its edges, which leads to an increase in global sea level," she added.
"By mapping these deep valleys and mountain ranges, we have therefore added a key piece of the puzzle to help understand the East. The Antarctic Ice Sheet may have responded to past changes and what it might look like in the future," said Fausto Ferraccioli , Principal investigator of the PolarGAP project of the European Space Agency.
"Our new aerogeophysical data will also allow new research on geological processes that created the mountains and basins before the Antarctic ice sheet itself was born," Ferraccioli said.