Antarctica’s ice cover was much larger 10,000 years ago than it is todayMay 6th, 2009 - 2:20 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, May 6 (ANI): New Antarctic seabed sonar images have revealed that the extent of ice covering the continent of Antarctica at the end of the last ice age around 10,000 years ago was much larger than it is today, which could help scientists to predict future sea-level rise.
Using sonar technology from onboard ships, scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the German Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) captured the most extensive, continuous set of images of the seafloor around the Amundsen Sea embayment ever taken.
This region is a major drain point of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and considered by some scientists to be the most likely site for the initiation of major ice sheet collapse.
The sonar images reveal an ‘imprint’ of the Antarctic ice sheet as it was at the end of the last ice age around 10 thousand years ago.
The extent of ice covering the continent was much larger than it is today.
The seabed troughs and channels that are now exposed provide new clues about the speed and flow of the ice sheet.
They indicate that the controlling mechanisms that move ice towards the coast and into the sea are more complex than previously thought.
According to lead author Rob Larter from British Antarctic Survey, “One of the greatest uncertainties for predicting future sea-level rise is Antarctica’s likely contribution. It is very important for scientists and our society to understand fully how polar ice flows into the sea.”
“Our research tells us more about how the ice sheet responded to warming at the end of the last ice age, and how processes at the ice sheet bed controlled its flow. This is a big step toward understanding of how the ice sheets are likely to respond to future warming,” he said. (ANI)
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Tags: alfred wegener institute, amundsen sea, antarctic ice sheet, british antarctic survey, collapse, continent of antarctica, drain point, initiation, last ice age, mechanisms, polar ice, scientists, sea level rise, seafloor, sonar images, sonar technology, troughs, uncertainties, wais, west antarctic ice sheet