UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — A scientific expedition discovered an unlisted island off the Antarctic by studying the melting of a huge glacier in the west of the continent, reports the journal Nature.
A new island has appeared in western Antarctica, found members of an expedition studying the Thwaites glacier, as large as a third of France, in the bay of Île du Pin, in Amundsen Sea.
Ships very rarely pass through this region and scientists who arrived in the Bay of Île du Pin aboard the scientific icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer would be the first to see it, according to the journal Nature.
The island is large enough to be visible by satellite, but it is covered with ice which would have prevented it from being discovered earlier.
Researchers do not yet know how long the island has been above sea level, but it is likely that the land has been exposed due to climate change.
Two hypotheses on the origins of the island
According to the journal Nature, the island may have been there for a long time, invisible under the ice and that it was revealed by the melting of the polar cap.
Another hypothesis is that this is a whole new island that formed after the melting glaciers released the pressure on the Earth’s crust, allowing it to rebound and rise, says Lindsay Prothro, geologist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, cited by Nature.
Besides, for the moment, there is no evidence that the earth’s crust has risen several tens of centimeters.
Researchers plan to take samples from the new island to measure the speed at which the continent is rising. This should improve their predictions on the evolution of neighboring glaciers.
It will take at least a month to get the preliminary results of their studies. The icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer’s expedition is scheduled to end on March 25, according to the review.
New islands revealed by melting glaciers
In recent years, other new islands have emerged in the Arctic and Greenland. In December 2017, an island formed in the Russian Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, following the melting of the front part of the Vilkitsky-south glacier .
In October of the same year, Russian researchers working aboard the Senej hydrographic vessel of the Northern fleet spotted a new island in the boreal part of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, near the Chachaev glacier .
In September 2005, explorer Dennis Schmitt discovered an island 650 km north of the Arctic Circle off the east coast of Greenland. The island was named Uunartoq Qeqertaq, meaning the island of warming in Greenlandic.
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