By Craig Stevens and Christina Hulbe
Jules Verne sent his fictional submarine, the Nautilus, to the South Pole through a hidden ocean beneath a thick ice cap. Written 40 years before any explorer had reached the pole, his story was nevertheless only half fiction.
There are indeed hidden ocean cavities around Antarctica, and our latest research explores how the ocean circulates underneath the continent’s ice shelves – large floating extensions of the ice on land that rise and fall with the tides.
These ice shelves buttress the continent’s massive land-based ice cap and play an important role in the assessment of future sea level rise. Our work sheds new light on how ocean currents contribute to melting in Antarctica, which is one of the largest uncertainties in climate model predictions.
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