A Hot Bed Under Antarctica !

 

Antarctica is the worlds largest area of icy wasteland. The ice contains about 90 percent of  the earths fresh water.

It acts as a massive heat sink and  drives the world’s oceanic circulation. Antarctica therefore  is a fundamental part of the Earth’s climate.It has been in the science news this past week  that there is an increasing amount of warming from beneath the ice  and this is an anomaly which is concerning climate scientists.

It seems the ice on the western side of Antarctica is being warmed from below. This is causing more rapid ice melts and a rise in sea level.  Some scientists are bewildered that it is possible to have ice on top and heat underneath.

This is a normal process where Earth’s internal heat is constantly warming up the ground above .This partially melts the ice from below, but snow and ice accumulation on top is usually enough to balance out these losses. However with computer data modelling it has been found that this melting , particularly on the western end is more drastic than it was first thought.

What is Going on Below?

In a bid to try and figure out what was causing the melt and to determine the extent of it scientists have  drilled  into the ice taking core samples and done seismic imaging from which they have discovered a vast system of sub glacial rivers and lakes. This water helps to make the movement of ice sheets  more fluid.  It is in the areas where there is more sub glacial water that the ice is melting at a greater rate.

Recent research has also discovered there is significant volcanic activity beneath Antarctica hidden beneath the thick layers of ice. There appears to be more volcanic activity in recent times and scientists are not sure why this is so.  They have found the source of the magma which is fueling the geothermal activity causing large sections of ice to melt. Some of the ice is up to 4.5 km thick so scientists are baffled as to why the heat source beneath is not preventing the ice from building up. 
Mount Erebus is an Antarctic volcano — one of the few that we knew about before a new study found dozens more under the ice. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images) From Washington Post

What if some of those volcanoes erupt?

According to the Washington Post scientists have discovered about 91 previously unknown volcanoes deep below the ice in Antarctica.  It also noted that one of the biggest icebergs in recorded history has just recently broken loose from the mass of ice.  There are concerns that with global warming causing the ice to melt from above,  it could cause instability and  a consequent volcanic eruption.  Previously it was known that there were a few volcanoes such as the well known Mount Erebus which holds a lake of glowing lava but new research undertaken  and instigated by a young geology student and some others found there to be up to 200 cones.

The phenomenon  is that it seems inexplicable that there be so much warmth underneath the ice which is having little impact on the amount of ice.  The ice that is melting and breaking away appears to be more from warming above than below. You can’t help but wonder what would happen if even one of those volcanoes beneath Antarctica were to erupt. I imagine it would have a profound impact on ocean currents to start, then sea level rising would cause further problems. Many forms of life known to exist in the Antarctic ocean would die from heat stress.

There is so much we do not know or understand about our planet.

It  demonstrates the fact that there is so much more that we really do not know or understand about our planet earth.  We know that we have been through ice ages and varying types and rates of climate change before. The big question is, for us now, what is causing it now and what can we do to prevent and reverse the damage?.

However if nature has its own agenda there is little we can do to avoid climate change and the consequences of it.

If on the other hand if it is caused by human activity then we need to look seriously at our role in it and what we can do as individuals and as nations.

What do you think?

If you believe that the anomalies we are seeing in climatic behavior right now are  the result of geo- engineering or meddling then we need to act to put pressure on the Governments who are pursuing it.  I personally think that whatever is happening in our polar regions is just part of a cycle and it will go through change then return, to its original position, a bit ike a pendulum on a clock. It will rock back and forth for a time then settle. We might get shaken around a little with some strange weather patterns and effects but it will come to rest.

Please share your thoughts. I am not a climate scientist, just a farmer who happens to be interested in what is happening on the climate front.  To concern ourselves overly with the consequences of climate change will be depressing, but to work together to take care of our world will give us a sense of pride and security for the future.

References:

The Washington Post

Forbes Science.

NASA

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