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CryoSat reveals lake outbursts beneath Antarctic ice

08 February 2017

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A novel way of using ESA's CryoSat mission has revealed how lakes beneath Thwaites Glacier drained into the Amundsen Sea - potentially the largest such outflow ever reported in this region of West Antarctica.

This new information is helping scientists understand more about what's going on deep below the surface of the ice and what affects how fast the glaciers flow towards the ocean.

Thwaites and its neighbouring Pine Island Glacier are the fastest-receding glaciers on the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Although this huge sheet is some 2 km thick in places, much of its floor is well below sea level. This makes it particularly vulnerable to change, especially where the warmer ocean waters meet the underside of the floating terminus of the glacier.

Source: ESA

Image credit: University of Edinburgh–N. Gourmelen - Four lakes under Thwaites

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