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    Underground Volcanoes In Antarctica Contributing To Melting Glacier

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    According to a study from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, glaciers in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are melting quickly, not only because of rising ocean temperatures, but also because of underground volcanic activity. The researchers used airborne radar to document the geothermal activity underneath the Thwaites Glacier, and the results show that it is much hotter underground than previous estimates assumed.

    According to a study from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, glaciers in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are melting quickly, not only because of ocean erosion, but also because of underground volcanic activity.

    The researchers used airborne radar to document the geothermal activity underneath the Thwaites Glacier, and the results show that it is much hotter underground than previous estimates assumed.

    Geothermal heat is caused by magma and volcanic activity, which this study suggests might be a major factor contributing to glacial melting.

    Doctor Dustin Schroeder from the University of Texas at Austin, who worked on the study is quoted as saying: "The nearby volcanoes are an expression of the crustal thinning, magma migration, and volcanism associated with the West Antarctic Rift System. The pattern of melting and geothermal flux we observed is also an expression of those same associated processes."

    Using data collected by radar, the researchers calculated the minimum average geothermal heat flow under the glacier to be around 100 milliwatts per square meter, reaching as high as 200 milliwatts in some areas.

    That’s significantly higher than the average heat flow of other continents on Earth, which are reportedly under 65 milliwatts per square meter.