Antarctic Ice Sheet's Hidden Lakes Speed Ice Flow Into Ocean, May Disrupt Climate

A web feature was released based on a paper co-authored by Christopher Shuman entitled: "Large subglacial lakes in East Antarctica at the onset of fast-flowing ice streams", that appeared in Nature. The findings were unique in that 1) this is the first time that a series of large (> 1000 km2 each, their total estimated area close to Lake Vostok or size of state of Connecticut) subglacial lakes have been detailed at the onset region of a major ice stream, and 2) the lakes apparently modify the basal thermal regime of the ice sheet to enable a broad area of accelerated ice flow, and 3) that these features sit deep (~700 km) into the interior of Antarctica near 85° S. The results also show that these lakes apparently sit at a poorly defined tectonic boundary in the underlying continental land mass, which may be a factor in the scale and frequency of potentially climatically-significant water outflows. These events could influence Antarctica's ice cover and the surrounding southern ocean. Read more on the NASA Portal (new window) Submitted by Christopher A. Shuman