NASA Has More Evidence Volcanic Activity Is Heating Up Antarctica’s Ice Sheet

Antarctica iceberg penguins photo: Pixabay

Antarctic penguins flop on an iceberg. Photo: Pixabay

CCD Editor’s Note: As regular readers will know, our resident geologist James Kamis has been writing about this topic for years and published a paper on this being the likely cause of West Antartic ice melt and instability. Glad to see NASA is catching up.

Ancient underground streams of heated rock, called a mantle plume, might be an explanation for the instability of the [West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS)], according to a new NASA study.

Scientists have been debating whether or not mantle plume heat contributes to West Antarctica’s instability. Some recent studies provided evidence this might be the case, but even this study’s authors were skeptical.

“I thought it was crazy,” Hélène Seroussi, the study’s co-author and scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a release.

“I didn’t see how we could have that amount of heat and still have ice on top of it,” Seroussi said in a statement.

NASA says Seroussi’s study provides more evidence of geothermal activity underneath a portion of the world’s largest ice sheet.

Scientists tend to worry more about future global warming’s effect on Antarctic ice sheet. NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot said western ice sheet collapse is “unstoppable” and could dramatically raise sea levels.

However, Antarctica has gone through periods of instability in the past. Seroussi’s study provides important context for the western ice sheet’s instability, and how mantle plumes may play a role.

Seroussi and co-author Erik Ivins used enhanced numerical modeling to see if a mantle plume could really be creating rivers of melted water under Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica. They compared their model to real-world observations of changes in the ice sheet.

Scientists think mantle plumes are thin streams of heated rock that makes its way upward, melting ice and creating rivers and lakes of meltwater under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Mantle plumes could have contributed to ice sheet instability about 11,000 years ago.

Seroussi’s study showed a mantle plume pushes 150 milliwatts per square meter of heat up towards the ice sheet. That’s about two to three times the heat flux of regions of the world without volcanic activity.

A 2014 University of Texas study found western Antarctica was a literal hotbed for geothermal heat. Researchers concluded that “large areas at the base of Thwaites Glacier are actively melting in response to geothermal flux consistent with rift-associated magma migration and volcanism.”

The following year, another team of U.S. scientists found there’s a huge amount of geothermal heat under western Antarctica. “The high geothermal heat flux may help to explain why ice streams and subglacial lakes are so abundant and dynamic in this region,” the study found.

Earlier this year, Scottish researchers found 91 previously unidentified volcanoes under the Antarctic ice sheet, including one that’s some 13,000 feet tall.

If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilize west Antarctica’s ice sheets,” Robert Bingham, a study co-author, told The Guardian. “Anything that causes the melting of ice – which an eruption certainly would – is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea.

“The big question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible,” Bingham said.

Read more at Daily Caller

Comments (5)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    So itt looks like both poles have Active Volcano’s and the biggist fruad is those liberal written cartoons showing Penguins and Polar Bears living in the same enviroment they live Poles Apart the Penguins in the Antarctic the Bears in the Arctic if a Arctic Tern could talk he would tell you that

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    NASA’s Research Study results as described above by Michael Bastasch is certainly a significant vindication for geologists like myself who have contended, written, and published for years that geological forces are a greatly underappreciated driver of Earth’s climate and climate related events. This includes geologically induced bedrock heat flow and heated chemically charged heated fluid flow that acts to bottom melt Antarctic glacial and sea ice.

    However, and far more importantly the NASA Research Study conclusions represent a huge victory for the many free lance writers who have dared to oppose the supposedly 100% settled Global Warming / Climate Change Theory. These free lance writers where not intimidated, instead courageously scientifically based alternate views. A select few of these Free Lance writers provided scientists with website platforms to express their alternate theories. Of special mention are those who generated and maintained the Climate Change Dispatch (CCD)website. These folks have always insisted only posting articles that are based on solid research and data.
    Great job CCD! Free Lance writing is still alive and well.

  • Avatar

    David Lewis


    One thing that tends to validate the geological explanation is only 10% of the Antarctic is showing signs of instability. If it were a climate event, more of the continent would be involved. Geothermal event are more localized.

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    Money is being thrown at research that supports only AGW. Imagine the fate of a rogue researcher stationed in Antarctica who might dare to point out that the ice was being melted from below? He would be a traitor, a threat to the gravy train.

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    Racheal Carson faked science Al Bore fake science Leonardo DiCaprio fake science,David Suzuki fake science Sierra Club Fake Science,Greenpeace Fake Science and the NYT’s LIES ,LIES LIES

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