Back in the day, Antarctica was thought to be nothing but solid ice. After all, the frigid temperatures alone make it impossible for ice to do much melting. However, climate change and global warming have created new circumstances in this cold region, and now scientists are discovering everything from holes and melted ice to lakes that should not be there.
Tech Times reports that a lake of fresh water was discovered under the Roi Baudouin Ice Shelf, and it is not supposed to be there.
This ice shelf already floats on the ocean, but during a field survey, the team found that a massive freshwater lake rests underneath the ice shelf, which proves that it is in fact melting. After drilling through the ice shelf, researchers found a lake that rests in between the surface and the base that sits on the ocean. In total, there were 55 lakes.
Melting Ice Could Promote Ice Shelf Collapse
While the lakes are breathtaking to look at and quite surprising, the fact that there are lakes inside of the glaciers is not something to celebrate: it is something to fear.
Nature World News reports that these lakes are an indication that the entire ice shelf may collapse very soon – potentially in one’s lifetime.
The ice shelf is no longer considered stable by researchers, and the area is extremely vulnerable.
An educational post on the dangers of these lakes highlights the fact that while the ice shelf is floating in the ocean, the ocean levels will rise once that ice sheet melts. In fact, if all of the shelves were to melt, the ocean would be 58 meters higher than it is today.
The ice shelves are floating ice surrounding Antarctica, and they play a role in border control. They are what creates resistance for the ice, and they prevent land ice from melting and adding to the sea level. Once these floating ice shelves give way, there will be nothing protecting the world from the ice that melts off the land.
Why are Ice Shelves Melting?
The biggest reason for the melt is the global warming and climate changes the atmosphere has experienced over the past decade. Warming at the bottom of the ocean is forcing these ice shelves to warm from the inside out; making them extremely unstable and prone to collapse.
The water is not stored in just the lakes, according to the report. It is also draining and flowing like rivers. As that water drains and flows through the ice shelf, it will create more melt.
The researchers concluded that the situation they found used only to be present in East Antarctica is no longer. Now the East is exhibiting symptoms like Greenland and West areas, where the warmer climates allow for some melt.
While the ice shelves are not unstable as of yet, researchers fear that with temperature increases, these ice shelves will continue to break apart and melt.