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Home / Science / Scientists drill a 2 kilometer hole in the West Antarctic ice sheet in a world first

Scientists drill a 2 kilometer hole in the West Antarctic ice sheet in a world first



Scientists of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have succeeded in drilling a 2-kilometer hole in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which breaks through to its base. This is lower for the protocol than any previous attempt to drill a hole in the West Antarctic with a hot water drill.

The purpose of this epic project is to pull sediment out of the ice sheet – sediment, hoping the scientists will help them figure out how fast the Antarctic ice melts due to climate change.

"Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets play an important role in controlling sea level and climate on Earth, but our understanding of their history and movement is poor." BAS explains on their website.

The biggest uncertainty we are currently facing when it comes to predicting sea-level rise is ice sheets like the West Antarctic, which have the capacity to trigger an irreversible sea-level rise that could last for decades, if not centuries.

The ice melt seems to be scarily faster than many glacier experts expected. And hopefully the project BEAMISH (bed access, surveillance and ice layer course) will help to correct through better understanding.

Nevertheless, it must work, even if the temperatures are at -30 ° C. BAS

The location is the Rutford Ice Stream, a large and fast-flowing glacier that flows into the Weddell Sea. BAS describes the Rutford Ice Stream as the "typical" outlet glacier of the Antarctic. It is almost 300 kilometers long and has a width between 20 and 30 kilometers.

To reach the bottom of this 2-kilometer deep ice shield, the team has hot water flowing through a high-pressure hose to drill through the ice. After 63 hours of continuous drilling, the team completed its mission on January 8, 2019.

The team has been working on this since November 2018. BAS

Holes made with various techniques and equipment (such as drills) continued to do so, but this is the deepest that has ever been achieved with this method. Earlier attempts were made and all were unsuccessful.

"I have waited a long time for this moment and I am very pleased that we have finally reached our goal." Team leader Andy Smith, head of the Ice Sheet Stability Program, said in a statement.

"There are knowledge gaps in the West Antarctic, so if we study the area where the ice is on soft sediment, we can better understand how this region can change in the future and contribute to global evolution." Sea level rise. "[19659002] But that does not stop it. Next to the first, a second hole has now been completed, and two more are to come. The idea is to drill a total of four, two in two locations, to study different types of sediment and the maximum number of instruments to use, said team member Keith Makinson to the BBC.


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