The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Scientists Melt a Mile-Deep Hole in Antarctica to Study Climate Change
A group of scientists and engineers led by the British Antarctic Survey dug a 1.3-mile deep hole through the ice sheet in West Antarctica—the deepest hole ever made in the region using hot water, according to BBC News.
The project, called Bed Access, Monitoring and Ice Sheet History (BEAMISH), comes after 20 years of planning. Another hole was attempted in 2004 but failed.
But on Jan. 8, after 63 hours of non-stop drilling in temperatures as low as low as -22°F, the team broke through to the sediment 7,060-feet below the surface. A series of instruments were then threaded through the borehole to record water pressure, ice temperature and deformation of the surrounding ice.
"I have waited for this moment for a long time and am delighted that we've finally achieved our goal," lead scientist Andy Smith said in the press release. "There are gaps in our knowledge of what's happening in West Antarctica and by studying the area where the ice sits on soft sediment we can understand better how this region may change in the future and contribute to global sea-level rise."
Both Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been melting at alarming rates in recent years due to Earth's rising temperatures. West Antarctica, which has enough ice to raise oceans 17.32 feet, is considered one of the most unstable parts of the continent. The region is now losing 159 billion tons of ice each year.
"We know that warmer ocean waters are eroding many of West Antarctica's glaciers," Keith Makinson, a physical oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey, explained in the press release. "What we're trying to understand is how slippery the sediment underneath these glaciers is, and therefore how quickly they might flow off the continent into the sea. This will help us determine future sea level rise from West Antarctica with more certainty."
The team has since drilled a second hole on Jan. 22 a few kilometers away from the first site. The research is expected to continue until mid-February 2018.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
Just over a month after proclaiming that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. would soon "be down to close to zero," President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on the White House lawn Sunday that limiting U.S. deaths from the pandemic to between 100,000 and 200,000 people would mean his administration and the country as a whole did "a very good job."
Documents unearthed in a lawsuit brought by a Missouri farmer who claimed that Monsanto and German chemical maker BASF's dicamba herbicide ruined his peach orchard revealed that the two companies knew their new agricultural seed and chemical system would likely damage many U.S. farms, according to documents seen by The Guardian.
By Albert Van Dijk, Luigi Renzullo, Marta Yebra and Shoshana Rapley
2019 was the year Australians confronted the fact that a healthy environment is more than just a pretty waterfall in a national park; a nice extra we can do without. We do not survive without air to breathe, water to drink, soil to grow food and weather we can cope with.
By Fino Menezes
Everyone adores dolphins. Intelligent, inquisitive and playful, these special creatures have captivated humans since the dawn of time. But dolphins didn't get to where they are by accident — they needed to develop some pretty amazing superpowers to cope with their environment.