Wednesday, Jun 19 2019 | Time 18:20 Hrs(IST)
  • Court sentenced 19 people to life imprisonment in a murder case way back in 2007
  • UN rapporteur says sanctions over Khashoggi case should continue, include crown prince
  • Iran says no war with US
  • Six killed in separate accidents in UP's Mirzapur
  • Russia favors extending new START, slams US manipulations as inadmissible : Ryabkov
  • Doctors in Himachal hold two-hour strike against misbehaviour with woman medico, services affected
  • R B Ganesh, Hari Naryanan makes into league phase in ABC Masters Snooker
  • Dozens dead in latest round of Mali violence
  • Himachal govt hikes honorarium for employees, Panhayati Raj workers and adhoc teachers
  • Pangolin's scale worth Rs 24 lakh seized in Mumbai; 3 held
  • Was cop’s son beaten to death in custody?
  • France sticks to 7 pc unemployment target: minister
  • class="K55Ut">India gives $15 million to Niger for AU summit
  • Tailor arrested with Cache of Arms in Bengal
  • Tehran will not extend 60-day nuclear deal deadline : Atomic energy agency

UK team drills record West Antarctic hole

UK team drills record West Antarctic hole

London, Jan 24 (UNI) UK scientists have succeeded in cutting a 2km hole through the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to its base.

It's the deepest anyone has gone in the region using a hot-water drill, says a BBC News report.

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) pulled up sediment from the bottom of the hole and deployed a series of instruments.

The researchers hope the project's data can help them work out how quickly the White Continent might lose its ice in a warming world.

Dr Andy Smith leads the team, which is still at the drill site at a location known as the Rutford Ice Stream.

He says there is immense satisfaction at having reached the bed after so many years of trying. An aborted attempt was made in 2004.

"I have waited for this moment for a long time and am delighted that we've finally achieved our goal," he commented.

"There are gaps in our knowledge of what's happening in West Antarctica and by studying the area where the ice sits on soft sediment, we can understand better how this region may change in the future and contribute to global sea-level rise."

There are a number of ways to cut through the thick Antarctic Ice Sheet.

A popular option is to use a corer, which allows scientists to bring up segments of ice that can then be studied back in the lab.

Another is to blast your way down, using hot water fed through a high-pressure hose.

You can't retrieve ice for analysis this way, obviously. But you can use the opening to do other things.

It is this second technique that the BAS team has employed at Rutford.

The approach is very quick - the reported hole was created on 8 January after just 63 hours of continuous operation.

The set-up is tricky to manage, however - not least because as soon as drilling stops, the 30cm-wide incision begins to close in the frigid (minus 30C air temperatures) environment.

The scientists are interested in the behaviour of Rutford because it's a pretty typical, fast-flowing, West Antarctic ice stream.

Almost 300km long and 25km wide, it drains a lot of ice into the Weddell Sea.

Researchers want to better understand how it all moves and to do this they need to know the nature of the sediments on which the ice is sliding and how much water might be lubricating its path to the coast.

To retrieve this information, the BAS team grabbed some sediments from the bottom of the hole and positioned instruments that can report back on the speed of the ice stream at its base.

The data will be used to constrain the computer models that seek to predict future Antarctic melting under various warming scenarios.

It is the deepest hole drilled with hot water in the west of the continent.

In the east, the same technique was used some years back to bore marginally more extensive (2.4km) openings at the South Pole for the IceCube experiment.

Corers and other drill types have gone down over 3km where the ice sheet is thicker.

BAS is working hard to perfect the hot-water drill. It sees the technology as having wide application.

British scientists used the system in 2012 to try to break through to the under-ice Lake Ellsworth.

It was an audacious attempt to sample a 3.2km-deep environment that has been shut off from the world for thousands of years. But the technology failed on that occasion.

The success at Rutford will surely encourage thoughts of another go at Ellsworth - and if not there, then perhaps at another of the continent's many sub-glacial lakes.

For the moment, the BAS team has plenty of work to do at Rutford.

News has arrived in the past couple of days that a second hole has now been drilled alongside the first.

The desire is to drill a total of four, says team-member Dr Keith Makinson, which will enable the maximum number of instruments to be deployed.

"It's not possible to put them all down a single hole," he told BBC News.

"We're going for two holes at two sites. That's to look at different sediment types.

"There's one site where the sediments are much stiffer and harder, and the other where they're much softer. We want to look at the different properties."

UNi XC-SNU 1801

More News
Dozens dead in latest round of Mali violence

Dozens dead in latest round of Mali violence

19 Jun 2019 | 6:10 PM

Bamako, Jun 19 (UNI) Attacks on two villages in central Mali have left at least 38 people dead.

see more..

South Africa MP 'racially abused' at tourist site

19 Jun 2019 | 5:42 PM

Cape Town, Jun 19 (UNI) A South African opposition MP says she is going to the police to report an allegedly racist incident, during which she says she punched a man in self-defence.

see more..
Khashoggi killing: Saudi crown prince 'should face investigation'

Khashoggi killing: Saudi crown prince 'should face investigation'

19 Jun 2019 | 5:40 PM

United Nations, Jun 19 (UNI) There is credible evidence that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level officials are individually liable for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a UN expert says.

see more..
Peacekeeping commanders gather at UN HQ

Peacekeeping commanders gather at UN HQ

19 Jun 2019 | 5:32 PM

United Nations, Jun 19 (UNI) The UN Security Council held its annual meeting, gathering all Force Commanders from all UN peacekeeping operations.

see more..

US, China to have trade talks ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

19 Jun 2019 | 5:15 PM

Washington/Beijing, June 19 (UNI) The United States and China will have another round of trade talks ahead of a meeting between their presidents at the G20 summit in Japan next week.

see more..