The Effect Of Temperature On The Antarctic Ice Sheet

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Subglacial lakes are bodies of water that lie at the base of an ice sheet and are thought to be formed due to the basal melting of the ice sheets. . The first Antarctic subglacial lake was identified by glaciologist Gordon de Quetteville Robin with the aid of radio-echo sounding (RES). Robin “… suggested that a rise from temperatures below melting point at the base of ice sheets may provide an explanation of the occasional catastrophic advances of certain glaciers” [], after investigating temperature distributions in ice sheets. Over the years the presence of subglacial water systems in a variety of forms have been discovered through observations made by remote sensing technology, combined with ground based observations. To date the largest…show more content…
Lakes typically form between the ice and bedrock. Despite the freezing temperatures of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, subglacial lakes still form due to a number of mechanisms that when compiled together create a situation where the temperature underneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet is warmer than its surface. This means that a large portion of the Antarctic Ice sheet is at melting point. There are three presumed mechanisms that contribute to the maintenance of subglacial lakes as liquid forms. One is the insulating effect the 3 - 4 km deep frozen ice has on the bedrock underneath it from the cold temperatures of above. (The coldest world temperature ever recorded was at Lake Vostok station at -89.6°C while the average temperature is around -55°C). The second mechanism is the weight of the glacier that applies tremendous pressure underneath the ice, which is 340 times the normal atmospheric pressure. This is intense enough to melt ice at a temperature of -4°C (Bently, 1996). And the third is geothermal heat fluxes as well as heat generated from friction as the ice sheet grinds against the bedrock. The Antarctic Ice Sheet influences global temperature and sea levels and is an important factor in the earth’s climate system. Climate studies reveal an increase in global temperatures which is causing shrinking of glaciers and ice sheets. The Antarctic ice volume is considered to have the potential to raise the global sea level by about 60 meters (200 feet), assessment of ice dynamics and its contribution to sea level are an important area of study for

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