By: Ian Lang
Everyone knows that volcanoes are exceptionally hot things – that’s why no one expects to find a glacier near, say, Hawaii. However, nowhere on Earth is 100% insulated from geothermal activity: Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have determined that subglacial volcanic activity, along with climate change, is contributing to the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet.
The findings significantly change the understanding of conditions beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where accurate information has previously been unobtainable.
“It’s the most complex thermal environment you might imagine,” said co-author Don Blankenship, a senior research scientist at UTIG and Schroeder’s Ph.D. adviser. “And then you plop the most critical dynamically unstable ice sheet on planet Earth in the middle of this thing, and then you try to model it. It’s virtually impossible.”
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