Volcano discovered under fastest-melting Antarctic glacier

earthsky.org | 7/19/2018 | EarthSky Voices
cobra662 (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: http://en.es-static.us/upl/2018/07/iceFire-glacier2-1000x609-300x183.jpg

Looking at the Pine Island Glacier from the icebreaker RSS James Clark Ross. Image via Brice Loose/University of Rhode Island.

This article is republished with permission from GlacierHub. This post was written by Andrew Angle.

West - Antarctica - Pine - Island - Glacier

West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is the fastest-melting glacier in Antarctica, making it the single biggest contributor to global sea-level rise. The main driver of this rapid loss of ice is the thinning of the PIG from below by warming ocean waters due to climate change. However, a study, published June 22, 2018, in Nature Communications, discovered a volcanic heat source beneath the PIG that is another possible driver of the PIG’s melting.

On the icebreaker RSS James Clark Ross looking toward the Pine Island Glacier on the 2014 expedition Image via University of Rhode Island.

Stability - Pine - Island - Glacier - Terrestrial

… examine the stability of the Pine Island Glacier from the terrestrial and the ocean side.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), which includes the PIG, sits on top of the West Antarctic Rift System that includes 138 known volcanoes. It is difficult, however, for scientists to pinpoint the exact location of these volcanoes or the extent of the rift system, because most of the volcanic activity occurs below kilometers of ice.

Pine - Island - Glacier - Landsat - Image

The Pine Island Glacier from above taken by Landsat Image via NASA.

Warming ocean temperatures due to climate change have long been identified as the primary contributor to the extensive melting of the PIG and other glaciers that transport ice from the WAIS. This melting is largely driven by Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW), which melts the PIG from below and leads to the retreat of its grounding line, the place where the ice meets the bedrock.

CDW - Antarctica - Scientists - Helium - Isotopes

To trace CDW around coastal Antarctica, the scientists used helium isotopes, specifically He-3, because CDW is widely recognized as the principal source of He-3 in the waters near...
(Excerpt) Read more at: earthsky.org
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