What lies beneath Antarctica’s ice?
There are few frontiers in the world that can still be said to be unexplored. One of these terra incognita is the land beneath Antarctica’s ice sheets. Buried under kilometres of ice is a fascinating realm of canyons, waterways and lakes. Under such a large volume of ice, how is it possible for water to exist at all without freezing? The answer is pressure: when a large weight of ice is pushed onto water, it can stay liquid at temperatures well below the normal freezing point. What’s more, the large body of ice actually insulates the bed and protects it from the very cold air temperatures above.
The liquid water is created by heat from the Earth’s interior and from the friction generated as ice flows over the bedrock, which can melt the underside of the ice sheet. It is this water that flows into the sub glacial lake basins and eventually into the ocean.
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