Earth is currently experiencing the worst-case scenario as global warming threatens to put an end to glaciers and lakes. A recent event, though, has made scientists worry even more.
New satellite data show how a massive lake in Antarctica vanished completely during winter back in 2019. Approximately twice the volume of San Diego Bay, such a loss is an intriguing yet shocking phenomenon that could’ve went unnoticed if it wasn’t for our eyes in the sky.
Here is what you need to know.
Unbelievable Disappearance Finally Explained
Researchers released a paper recently discussing what happened to the lake on Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica.Â
As per their findings, the lake held approximately 600-750 million cubic meters (21-26 billion cubic feet) of water. That’s more than we can imagine, but just look at the following visualization of the water lost to the ocean from the lake:
What is the culprit?
Water disappearing into thin air is impossible. But in this case, researchers explain that the massive reservoir probably became too much for the ice layer underneath to support it.Â
Roland Warner is a glaciologist from the University of Tasmania. He states:
“We believe the weight of water accumulated in this deep lake opened a fissure in the ice shelf beneath the lake, a porocess known as hydrofacture, causing the water to drain away to the ocean below.”
What’s more intriguing is that when such a massive pool of water disappears from a floating ice shelf, the ice shelf underneath should’ve risen, allowing the previous weight pressing it down to escape. But this case is like no one other.
The affected area encircling the lake grew up to 36 meters.Â
Other significant details
After the lake vanished back in 2019, the lake started to fill again as ice melt up to 1 million cubic meters of water daily. Researchers still don’t know if the new lake will also disappear due to multiple fractures in the ice.