Above: Mt Erebus, which was previously the only active volcano in Antarctica
picture by Sean Brocklesby
It seems that we still don’t know everything there is to know about our earth-climate system. Take this for example. Scientists have just now discovered an active volcano under the Antarctic ice that “creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow towards the sea”.
Yet many claim the CO2 is the driver for any melting of the Antarctic ice sheet. I wonder how this will figure into that argument?
In fact, there are a LOT of volcanoes in Antarctica as you can see in this image. Notice that many are near the edge of the ice, and there are none in the interior, which may be a lack of discovery of ancient ice buried volcanoes. Most scientific bases are near the sea, rather than inland, for supply and weather tolerance purposes and there are many places in the interior that have yet to be fully explored.
These images showing known Antarctic volcanoes and satellite measured temperature trends from 1992-2004 below tends to back up the idea that where there is volcanic activity, temperatures have been rising.
Volcanic Map Temperature Trends
Here is a link and excerpt of the story:
The first evidence of a volcanic eruption from beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet has been discovered by members of the British Antarctic Survey.
The volcano on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet began erupting some 2,000 years ago and remains active to this day. Using airborne ice-sounding radar, scientists discovered a layer of ash produced by a ‘subglacial’ volcano. It extends across an area larger than Wales. The volcano is located beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet in the Hudson Mountains at latitude 74.6°South, longitude 97°West.
The subglacial volcano has a ‘volcanic explosion index’ of around 3-4. Heat from the volcano creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow towards the sea. Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is showing rapid change and BAS scientists are part of an international research effort to understand this change.
Lead author Hugh Corr of the BAS says, “The discovery of a ‘subglacial’ volcanic eruption from beneath the Antarctic ice sheet is unique in itself. But our techniques also allow us to put a date on the eruption, determine how powerful it was and map out the area where ash fell. We believe this was the biggest eruption in Antarctica during the last 10,000 years. It blew a substantial hole in the ice sheet, and generated a plume of ash and gas that rose around 12 km into air.”
The discovery is another vital piece of evidence that will help determine the future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and refine predictions of future sea-level rise. Glaciers are like massive rivers of ice that flow towards the coast and discharge icebergs into the sea.
Here is a related story: Lakes Beneath Antarctic Ice Sheets Found To Initiate And Sustain Flow Of Ice To Ocean