A huge ice lake in Antarctica has suddenly disappeared and scientists fear it will happen again.
In this disappearance, researchers claim it occurred on the Emory Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica in the winter of 2019, with an estimated 21 to 26 billion cubic feet (600 million to 750 million cubic meters). of water, about twice as much as San Diego Bay, discharging into the sea.
Scientists who used satellite observations to capture the shocking disappearance said the lake dried up about three days after the collapse of the ice shelf below the lake.
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“We believe that the weight of the accumulated water in this deep lake has caused cracks in the ice shelf beneath the lake, a process called hydraulic fracturing that causes water to flow into the ocean below, ”said Roland Warner, a glaciologist at the University of Tasmania and lead author of a new study describing the event, in a statement. . He added that once the water is released, “the flow of water into the ocean below is like the flow of Niagara Falls, so this will be an impressive sight.”
Hydraulic fracturing (a use of hydraulic fracturing Or the natural process of fracturing the same physical principles used to extract oil or gas from bedrock) occurs in water-
is denser and therefore heavier than ice-it opens huge cracks in the ice sheet-and then discharges into the sea. This will leave a huge crack and compromise the structural integrity of the entire blade. As meltwater lakes and streams proliferate on the surface of Antarctica, researchers worry that the increase in surface melt water may trigger further hydraulic fracturing events, which may lead to the collapse of ice shelves, including parts fixed on the ground, thereby raising sea levels. Higher than the current forecast.
“The melting of the Antarctic surface is expected to double by 2050, raising concerns about the stability of other ice shelves,” the team wrote in their study, which was published in Geophysical Research on June 23 Express. “Processes such as hydraulic fracturing and bending are still to be studied. The ice sheet model does not yet include the actual treatment of these processes.” (Bending is the bending of the bottom of the ice shelf due to the weight of the melt water, and is another potential cause of ice shelf rupture.)
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Warner and his colleagues used NASA’s ICESat2 satellite to observe the violent lake leak For aerial measurements, the satellite reflects laser pulses from the target of interest and measures the time it takes for the pulses to be reflected. From this time delay, scientists can calculate the height of the target.
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flood, the area around the lake has now freed from the weight of the water, rose 36 meters (118 feet) from its original position, and suffered a huge fracture. -Called Bingtiankeng-it dug an area of ​​approximately 4.25 square miles (11 square kilometers) along the lake bed. In the summer of 2020, the lake fills up in just a few days with a peak flow of 35 million cubic feet (1 million cubic meters) per day. The researchers said that it is not yet clear whether the water will create new cracks and disappear, or whether it has disappeared into the ocean through old cracks.
“It can collect meltwater or discharge it into the ocean more frequently,” Warner said. “It seems that the crack reopened briefly during the 2020 summer thaw season, so it must be a system that cannot be ignored. This incident raises new questions about how common these deep ice-covered lakes are on ice platforms, and How they formed and evolved.”

 

 

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