A new continent-wide survey of Antarctica shows that surface
meltwater drainage systems are much more prevalent than was previously thought.
It has been known for years that there is running water
under the continent, however it was not known how extensive it was.
One find is extremely troubling… they have discovered a river
system that eventually ends in a 120-metre-wide waterfall that can dispose one
year worth of surface melt in just a week.
On the continent itself, the large volume of ice present
stores around 70% of the world's fresh water.
If all the ice on Antarctica were to melt, global sea levels
would rise by an unprecedented 60 metres.
Some of Antarctica has been warming up; particularly strong
warming has been noted on the Antarctic Peninsula. A study by Eric Steig
published in 2009 noted for the first time that the continent-wide average
surface temperature trend of Antarctica is slightly positive at >0.05°C per
decade from 1957 to 2006. This study also noted that West Antarctica has warmed
by more than 0.1°C per decade in the last 50 years, and this warming is
strongest in winter and spring.
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