Buried Lakes Send Antarctica's Ice Slipping Faster Into the Sea, Study Shows
Four large lakes found at the start of a rapidly moving ice stream offer the first direct link between the under-ice bodies of water and the rate at which ice flows into the ocean.
Like a slapstick comedian slipping on banana peels, Antarctica's ice sheets slide more quickly into the sea when they hit under-ice lakes, a new study shows.
But the finding is anything but funny, since the slippery motion could have serious implications for the way ice sheets respond to global warming.
Ice is continually sliding off Antarctica and into the sea. In ice streams, inland ice speeds into the ocean more than ten times faster than the rest of the ice sheet.
(Read: Deepest Dive Ever Under Antarctica Reveals a Shockingly Vibrant World.)
Using satellite images and elevation data, the study team found four new, large under-ice lakes right at the start of a massive ice stream in East Antarctica.
The stream currently dumps