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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Decoding Antarctica's response to a warming world


A tangle of tubes, cables, and actuators - Mebo looks as though it could morph at any moment into one of those Transformer robots from the movies. 

The 10-tonne machine is in fact a seabed drilling system, and a very sophisticated one at that. 
Deployed over the side of any large ship but driven remotely from onboard, it's opening up new opportunities to take sediment samples from the ocean floor. 
MeBo was developed at the MARUM research facility in Bremen, Germany, and has not long returned from a pathfinding expedition to the West Antarctic.
In the iceberg-infested waters of the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE), it obtained the very first cores to be drilled from just in front of some of the mightiest glaciers on Earth. 
Chief among these are Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier, colossal streams of ice that drain the White Continent and which are now spilling mass into the ocean at an alarming rate. 
There's concern that deep, warm water is undercutting the glaciers, possibly tipping them into an unstoppable retreat. And that has global implications for significant sea-level rise. 
It was MeBo's job to help investigate whether this really could be happening. 
Source By BBC.COM
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