Incredible peaks and valleys, buried beneath ice for 14 million years, have revealed evidence of how the East Antarctic ice sheet first formed.
Scientists used radar to map an area of the Gamburtsev mountains – believed to be the point of origin of the ice.
The region would have been cold enough for the first glacier to form.
Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers say their findings provide important clues about how the ice sheet will behave as our climate changes.
“This is the largest reservoir of ice on Earth, and the most poorly understood place on our planet,” said the British Antarctic Survey’s Fausto Ferraccioli, a scientist involved in a separate international project to study the region.
He explained that the elevation and location of the Gamburtsev Mountains – in the centre of the ice sheet – made them an “ideal place” for the formation of the very first ice.
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