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    Bad News for Humanity: Hidden Antarctica Canyons to Speed Ice Sheet Decline

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    The largest of the three newly discovered troughs nearly equals the distance between Washington DC and New York City.

    While studying the vast snowy lands of Antarctica, a group of researchers from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have come across three canyons hidden right in the heart of the region.

    According to the journal Geophysical Research Letters, where they published their findings, the canyons lie on the borderline between the East and West Antarctic ice sheets, and they essentially direct ice flow to the sea, when the two sheets approximate each other. Given the drastic climatic change predicted for the region, there are fears that the troughs will speed up to a great extent ice streaming towards the sea, thereby causing an abrupt rise in sea level.

    "That makes the canyons really important, and we simply didn’t know they existed before now," Kate Winter, a researcher at Northumbria University in the UK and the lead author of the paper, told the BBC.

    The largest one, which goes by the suggestive name Foundation Trough, stretches for roughly 217 miles and is 22 miles wide.

    READ MORE: What's in Store For the Planet? Professor's Take on Staggering Carbon Levels

    What appears to be most disturbing, temperatures are already reported to be rising, disrupting naturally occurring ice shelves and propelling the Antarctic ice sheets from their rims, sending massive melted ice flows towards the sea. 

    The research is part of the wider PolarGAP project launched by the European Space Agency to monitor areas of the planet that its satellites can’t catch sight of.

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    Tags:
    climate change, sea level rise, snow, ice, melting ice, humanity, news, Antarctica
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