Antarctic Ice Flows

Even frozen ice moves and flows, though too slowly to see with the naked eye. By combining satellite imagery from NASA, JAXA, CSA, and ESA, researchers were able to map the flow of ice across Antarctica, discovering ice streams (shown in blue and purple above) that can move hundreds of meters a year.  The dynamics of this motion are still poorly understood, with theoretical advances underway. These ice sheets sit atop bedrock that is itself below sea level.  A thin layer of water exists between the ice sheet and the bedrock, acting as a lubricant and allowing the ice to slide against the bedrock. To see animations of Antarctic ice flow, see this compilation film. (Photo credits: E. Rignot/NASA JPL/UC Irvine #; M. J. Hambrey #)

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