Planet Earth

11
Apr

What’s Happening Under the Antarctic Ice Sheets

The Physics arXive Blog at Technology Review:

Julyan Cartwright at the University of Granada in Spain and a few pals hope to change that by examining the formation, chemistry and structure of brinicles in more detail. They say the structures are a special form of chemical system known as a chemical garden that depends crucially on the interplay between highly concentrated brine, water close to its freezing point and the formation of ice.

But more interestingly, they say that brinicles may have played an important role in the origin of life on Earth and that similar structures elsewhere in the solar system could be equally important.

That’s not all that’s happening beneath the Antarctic ice. There are also massive underwater waterfalls that drive ocean currents, scientists think. The process is documented in “Earth From Space” in chapter 5, or about 41 minutes in.