It’s been just revealed that the glaciers of Antarctica are melting at rates that we’ve never seen before, and unfortunately, there’s something that can make things even worse – a giant canyon in the rocky underbelly of the continent.
In a study that’s been published on March 23 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, experts used over 20 years of satellite data in order to monitor the ice in the Denman Glacier.
This is a 12-mile wide stream of ice located in East Antarctica along with the bedrock beneath it.
A deep canyon below the glacier could cause it to melt faster
Experts found that the western flank of the Denman glacier retreated almost 3 miles between the years 1996 and 2018, and there’s more – a deep canyon below this glacier may be causing it to melt faster than it can recover.
The western flank of this glacier is flowing over the deepest known land canyon that’s on our planet – this is about 11k feet below the sea level.
At the moment, this is cut off from the sea due to the glacial ice that’s piled inside and atop the ravine.
The glacier’s edge retreats farther down the slope and the result will consist in the fact that the warm ocean water will be touring into the canyon, battering bigger sections of the glacier.
This will happen until the glacier is turned into a giant own of meltwater that will not have anywhere to go.
Sea level to rise by 5 feet
According to expert opinion, this would be a disaster because it could kick off a runaway feedback loop of melt that will return the glacier’s ice to the sea – the risk is a global sea-level rise by about 5 feet.
“Because of the shape of the ground beneath Denman’s western side, there is potential for rapid and irreversible retreat, and that means substantial increases in global sea levels in the future,” lead study author Virginia Brancato said.
We recommend that you check out the complete study in order to learn more.