Researchers from the University of Exeter, Newcastle University, the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, the British Antarctic Survey, and the University of York reported the discovery of huge ice channels beneath the floating ice shelf in Antarctica on the Oct. 6, 2013, at the University of Exeter website.
The scientists used satellite images and airborne radar measurements to reveal the channels under the ice shelf. The channels are over 800 feet deep and extend for miles between the floating ice of the Antarctic and the land covered ice. The channels can be seen on the surface of the ice shelf due to the differences in elevation.
The channels were formed by meltwater flowing between the land and the ice covering the land. This observation allowed the scientists to accurately predict and track the path of the channels though the majority of the Antarctic.
The channels were formed by the melting of run off water when that water encountered warmer ocean water. The effect is more like a system of rivers than the previous concept of thin stream of water between land and ice being involved in the channel formation.
This is the first reported evidence that accounts for the size and extent of the ice channels and is expected to provide insight into the complicated system of water and ice in the Antarctic and potentially predict climate change effects before they occur in the Antarctic.