How ancient ice-age valleys could hold the key to global ice-sheet loss

What will be the fate of the Earth’s remaining ice sheets as both warming and melting continue? Image: Roxanne Desgagnés/Unsplash

James Kirkham
Marine geophysicist, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and University of Cambridge
Dr Kelly Hogan
Marine geophysicist , BAS
Dr Robert Larter
Marine geophysicist, BAS
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The distribution of tunnel valleys beneath the North Sea
These giant channels have been carved during several periods of rapid ice sheet decay over the last several hundred thousand years. Image: James Kirkham

A giant tunnel valley, now buried 200 metres beneath the bottom muds of the North Sea, revealed in 3D using seismic data
The tunnel valley is about 1km wide and 120 metres deep. Image: James Kirkham; data courtesy of Gardline Limited
An animation of the growth and retreat of the last ice sheet to cover the UK and Europe during the last glacial period
The last ice sheet to cover the UK. Image: Clark et al. (2022)

How tunnel valleys form beneath deglaciating ice sheets
Water migrates from the ice sheet surface to the base, where flow through a network of smaller migrating channels drives the rapid incision of a larger valley. Image: Kirkham et al. (2022)
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Related topics:
ArcticClimate IndicatorsAntarctica
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