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Heat source under Antarctica melting ice sheet: Study

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A new study from NASA reveals that there is a geothermal heating source deep below the Marie Byrd Land. Earlier, a scientist at Colorado University had mentioned this heating source called mantle plume about 30 years ago. The current research says that this heating source is the cause of ice melting and creation of lakes and rivers beneath ice sheets. NASA has also explained that this heating source is neither the new one nor is a threat for ice sheets in the Western Antarctica. Instead, this heating source will enable the scientists to explain the reason behind the rapid collapse of ice sheets during climatic changes.

It is a believed fact that the stability of the ice sheets depends on the amount of water beneath it. This is because this water acts as a lubrication agent and causes the glaciers to slide. A clear understanding of the reasons for melting water may prove helpful in estimating the rate of melting of ice sheets. The scientists may easily calculate when the ice may get lost in oceans in future.

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Earlier studies and images show that there are a lot of rivers and lakes adjacent to Antarctica’s bedrock. Some of these lakes are large and many are small. One of the largest lakes is of the size of Lake Erie. Many of these lakes fill and drain rapidly. This filling and draining of lakes cause the rise and fall of ice sheets. The ice surface rises up to the level of about 6 meters in certain cases. This rise and fall motion of the ice surface also helps the scientists to estimate the quantity of water at certain places.

Helene Seroussi says that she felt excited about hearing the idea of a heat source under ice sheets. She says that she has always thought of how we could have that amount of heat and still have ice on top of it.

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