At the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, scientists used a hot-water drill hose to create a hole through the thick ice until they reached the perpetually dark water. What they found surprised them. This is the Ross Ice Shelf – the biggest floating ice shelf in Antarctica. Such shelves are important because they hold back a vast amount of ice.
image/text credit: National Geographic
If all such West Antarctic shelves were to collapse and spill the ice into the ocean then global sea level would rise by 10 feet. Beneath the Ross Ice Shelf is one of the least explored bits of ocean on Earth.
New Zealand scientists used a hot-water drill hose to create a hole through the thick ice until they reached the perpetually dark water. They hoped to study the health and history of the shelf.
Their findings surprised them. They found that the ice in the hole itself and along the base of the shelf was crystalizing and freezing rather than melting. Measurements will be taken for the next few years, to see how the Ross Ice Shelf is changing over time.