A group of researchers have found a valley underneath the most rapidly-changing glacier of East Antarctica which is well-known for warm water delivery to the ice base that is triggering significant melting.
The study, which was conducted by the researchers at Imperial College London, showed that the invasion of warm ocean water has accelerated the process of melting and thinning of Totten Glacier. The 65 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide glacier contains enough ice for raising the global sea levels by 3.5 metres. Moreover, the glacier serves as one of the major outlets for the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is the largest mass of ice on the Earth and covers 98 percent of the continent.
Professor Martin Siegert, co-author of the study and co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said that it was only one glacier and it has been changing now. Moreover, the glacier was important for sea levels globally.
Siegert further said that the 3.5 metre increase is likely to take several centuries to finish, but now the process has commenced when it may be irreversible. Moreover, he further said that this served as another instance of how human-induced changes in climate could lead to remarkable changes with knock-on impacts that will be felt in global context.
The East Antarctic Ice Sheet was earlier believed to be enveloped by colder water and so relatively stable as compared with the smaller West Antarctic Ice Sheet that has been losing over 150 cubic kilometres of ice each year. However, the data provided by the satellite have shown that the Totten Glacier has also been depleting considerably.
The findings of the study were detailed today in the journal Nature Geoscience.