Earth’s deepest ice canyon at risk due to Climate Change
The deepest land gorge on Earth i.e. East Antarctic’s Denman Canyon reaches 3,500m below the sea level. The NASA scientists has reported that, the ice canyon is highly vulnerable to melting due to climate change. The ice canyon is filled with ice from top to bottom. The retreating and diminishing patterns of the glacier says that it is getting eroded by the warm ocean water which is encroaching the glacier.
If the ice melts from the Denman canyon, it has the ability to raise the sea surface by 1.5m globally. Dr Virginia Brancato, from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that the pace at which this situation can happen will depend on a number of factors that affects the glacier, for example, the channel’s narrowness along with which Denman is retreating will slow down the pace of retreatment. She also added that at present, it is critical to access more data and we have to frequently and closely monitor glacier’s future evolution.
There has been a situation of retreat in the grounding line of the glacier as reported by Dr. Brancato and colleagues, who showed this with a help of a satellite radar from 1996 to 2018. This is the situation or point at which the ice stream lifts up and then floats as it is flowing off the land and hence enters the ocean. In a span of 22 years, the line has reversed 5 to 6km. this reversal is mostly occurring in the western side of the glacier. It is because there exists a buried ridge beneath the eastern flank which helps in pinning and thus protecting that particular side of the glacier.
If a large amount of ocean water can find its way to Denman, there are high chances that the ice in the canyon will melt at a significant rate. Enormous amounts of ice loss is happening in the west of the continent.