Ice sheet models will need to be updated.
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Beneath Antarctica’s glaciers, there are numerous lakes and rivers of liquid water that flow freely.
Kerry Key, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Writing in the journal Science on Friday, researchers describe a reservoir and system of waterways beneath the icy continent that is far more vast and deep than expected.
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They spent six weeks planting instruments in roughly four dozen locations across the Whillans Ice Stream to measure the water flows beneath it.
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The deeper the water went, the saltier it became.
Understanding water flows beneath the continent is vital to explaining all the factors that cause Antarctica’s ice sheets to move.
“Understanding the influence of this groundwater on ice sheet behavior will require its integration into the next generation of ice sheet models.”
Gustafston et al, study authors