Scientists have brought new evidence of a heat source found in the western Antarctic hull. It is believed that this “blanket”, resulting from volcanic activity, was formed 50-110 million years ago, well ahead of the ice cap, and played a role in the rapid meltdown that took place during the last periods of climate change and can explain the instability that we see today.
The geothermal heat source is located under the Marie Byrd Land region. Although it is not an unknown phenomenon, it can help scientists better estimate the rate of the melting ice, writes Daily Mail.
This geothermal activity would also explain the shape of the dome relief and is also responsible for the diminution of the calotte at the end of the last ice age 11,000 years ago.
“We did not see how we could have that big amount of heat and still ice on top of it”, said Hélène Seroussi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
In the new study, researchers were able to use mathematical modeling to study heat, revealing that natural sources of heat and heat transport come from a number of processes.
Also, scientists have noticed that there are changes to the ice cap altitudes recorded by NASA’s IceSat satellite and Operation IceBridge.
These studies “narrow down possible melting rates – just the thing we wanted to predict”, said Erik Ivins of JPL.
It has been discovered that the flow of energy in the blanket should not exceed 150 billionths per square meter in order not to melt the ice, and studies have shown that the volcanic activity under the ice cap leads to an energy flow of even 180 billionths.