NEW DELHI: Scientists have discovered an ancient landscape hidden under icesheet in East Antarctica. The hidden landscape was revealed with the help of satellite data and planes equpped with ice-panetrating radar.
According to a report in CNN, remote sensing techniques were used to map 32,000 square kilometers, which resulted in the discovery of a landscape formed by rivers prior to the continental build-up of the East Antarctic ice sheet that would have once resembled the hills and valleys of Present-day North Wales.
According to a study published in the Journal Nature Communications, the researchers set out to chart the history of the ice sheet and how it evolved over time. The research also included the understanding of how the land looked before it was hidden under the icesheet.
Lead study author Stewart Jamieson, a professor in the department of geography at the University of Durham said in a statement, “The land underneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is less well known than the surface of Mars.”
“And that’s a problem because that landscape controls the way that ice in Antarctica flows, and it controls the way it might respond to past, present and future climate change,” he added.
According to Jamieson, the well-preserved nature of the landscape makes it particularly special. It is rare to find relatively unmodified landscapes underneath a continental ice sheet, normally the movement of the ice as it fluctuates in size and moves would erode and grind down the relic landscape,CNN reported.
The preservation of this ancient landscape offers valuable insights into the stability of the East Antarctic ice sheet, which contains enough ice to potentially raise sea levels by 60 meters as global temperatures rise.
According to the report, the study suggests that Earth’s climate is headed towards conditions similar to those when this landscape first emerged, around 34 to 14 million years ago, with temperatures 3 to 7 degrees Celsius higher than today.
The East Antarctic ice sheet has existed for millions of years, but this study’s findings indicate that the land beneath it has remained surprisingly intact due to the region’s exceptionally cold and stable conditions at the ice sheet’s base.
“(The data) effectively measures very small changes in the shape of the top of the ice and basically when we look at that and draw it out it looks like a series of interconnected valleys that must be underneath the icesheet. We’re basically seeing the ghost of that landscape from the top,” Jamieson said.
Scientists used geophysical data to uncover the hidden features of this 2-kilometer-thick ice sheet, revealing interconnected valleys beneath.
While the research doesn’t provide insights into the ancient life that may have thrived there, the evidence of past rivers suggests that this landscape likely supported vegetation.

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