Lowest Point On Earth Discovered Beneath Antarctica's Ice Sheet; Here's How Low

Science

In a major breakthrough amid the depths of Antarctica, US scientists on Thursday, found the lowest point of land on Earth, beneath the Ice sheet in Antarctica.

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Updated On:
Antartica

In a major breakthrough amid the depths of Antarctica, US scientists on Thursday, found the lowest point of land on Earth, beneath the Ice sheet in Antarctica. Researchers from the University of California-Irvine have unveiled the most accurate portrait yet of the contours of the land beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet, as stated by the University's press release. The research was carried out to identify the regions which are most vulnerable to global warming.

Lowest point on Earth found at Antarctica

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The research which is part of the newly released Antarctica topography map -BedMachine zeros the lowest point on land beneath the Denman Glacier in East Antarctica. At 3500 meters ( about 11500 feet) below sea-level, this point falls below the lowest exposed point on land which is located at  Dead Sea shore at 413 meters (about 1,355ft) below sea level, according to glaciologists. The researchers, along with the BedMachince Antarctica datasheet, have also published a study in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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What did they find under the Antarctic ice sheet?

The researchers have found stabilizing ridges that protect the ice flowing across the Transantarctic Mountains. These mountains reportedly increase the risk of rapid ice retreat into the deeper sector. The BedMachine project also found a bed under the Recovery and Support Force glaciers which were previously thought to be the deepest point. Researchers have found that the bed extends deeper, making those ice sheets more susceptible to retreat - thus mapping the world’s deepest land canyon below Denman Glacier in East Antarctica.

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How did thy map the Ice bed?

While previous Antarctica mapping methods relied on radar soundings, BedMachine used a physics-based method of mass conservation to estimate what lies between the radar sounding lines. This helped the researchers to identify how ice moves around the varied contours of the bed, helping them conclude the true depth of the Denman trough. Researchers believe that by charting seafloor depth offshore and beneath floating ice future bed topography mapping can be greatly enhanced.

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