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Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica


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Antarctica was once a warm region filled with forests and swamps

Giant troughs running for hundreds of kilometers have been found deep beneath the ice at the South Pole.

It might seem like a barren wasteland of snow and ice, but beneath the surface Antarctica is home to a diverse landscape of tall mountains and deep gorges that remain completely hidden from view.

This latest discovery, which was made by a team of researchers led by Dr Kate Winter of Northumbria University, involved using airborne ice-penetrating radar to help map out the terrain.

The largest of the gorges, which has been named Foundation Trough, measures 350km long, 35km wide, and to reach it you would need to drill down more than 2km through the ice.

"These troughs channelise ice from the centre of the continent, taking it towards the coast," said Dr Winter. "Therefore, if climate conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these troughs to flow a lot faster towards the sea."

"That makes them really important, and we simply didn't know they existed before now."

Original article here : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44245893

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