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Largest Volcanic Region on Earth Discovered in Antarctica

"The big question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible,"

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The largest volcanic region is below the ice sheets in west Antarctica
Largest volcanic region discovered in Antarctica. Pixabay
  • The largest volcanic region on Earth has been discovered in west Antarctica 
  • The newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 m
  • These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system

London, August 15, 2017: The largest volcanic region on Earth — with nearly 100 volcanoes — has been discovered two km below the surface of the vast ice sheet in west Antarctica.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Britain found a staggering 91 previously unknown volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered over the previous century of exploring the region.

These newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 m, with the highest almost as tall as Switzerland’s 3,970-m Eiger mountain.

These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system — which stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica’s Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.

According to geologists, this huge region is likely to dwarf east Africa’s volcanic ridge — currently rated as the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

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However, the activity of this range could have worrying consequences, glacier expert Robert Bingham was quoted as saying to the Guardian.

“If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica’s ice sheets,” Bingham warned.

“Anything that causes the melting of ice, which an eruption certainly would, is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea,” he said.

“The big question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible,” he added.

The Edinburgh volcano survey, reported in the Geological Society’s special publications series, involved studying the underside of the west Antarctica ice sheet for hidden peaks of basalt rock similar to those produced by the region’s other volcanoes.

Presently, volcanism is seen in regions, including Iceland and Alaska, that have recently lost their glacier covering. The same could happen in west Antarctica, where significant warming in the region caused by climate change has begun to affect its ice sheets.

If they are reduced significantly, this could release pressure on the volcanoes that lie below and lead to eruptions that could further destabilise the ice sheets and enhance sea level rises that are already affecting our oceans, Bingham noted. (IANS)

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High Temperature Records in Antarctica will Take Months to Verify: UN

Antarctic High Temp Records Will Take Months to Verify, says the UN Weather Agency

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ANTARCTICA
View of Orne Harbour in South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. - Brazilian scientists registered Antarctic temperature above 20C for first time on record at Seymour Island on February 9, 2020. VOA

Record high temperatures reportedly measured in Antarctica will take months to verify, the U.N. weather agency said Sunday.

A spokesman for the World Meteorological Organization said the measurements made by researchers from Argentina and Brazil earlier this month have to undergo a formal process to ensure that they meet international standards.

“A formal decision on whether or not this is a record is likely to be several months away,” said Jonathan Fowler, the WMO spokesman.

Scientists at an Argentine research base measured a temperature of 18.3° C (nearly 65° F) Feb. 6 on a peninsula that juts out from Antarctica toward the southern tip of South America. Last week, researchers from Brazil claimed to have measured temperatures above 20° C on an island off the peninsula.

ANTARCTICA
Frigid Antarctica is an expanse of white ice and blue waters, as pictured in March, 2017, at the U.S. research facility McMurdo Station. NASA’s Operation IceBridge has collected annual measurements of Antarctic ice to track changes and help predict sea level rise. VOA

Fowler said both measurements would need to be transmitted to Prof. Randall Cerveny, a researcher at Arizona State University who examines reported temperature records for WMO.

Cerveny then shares the data with a wider group of scientists who “will carefully evaluate the available evidence (including comparisons to surrounding stations) and debate the merits and problems of the observation,” said Fowler.

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The evaluation normally takes six to nine months, after which Cerveny would “formally either accept or reject the potential extreme,” giving official WMO approval to the new record, he said.

Climate change is causing the Arctic and the Antarctic to warm faster than other parts of the planet. (VOA)