In Antarctica found the entire planet at risk

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The largest canyon discovered was called the Foundation Trough and measures more than 200 miles long and over 21 miles wide.

This was funded in large part by the European Space Agency (Esa), which wanted to collect measurements over an area of planet that its satellites can not see (spacecraft generally only fly up to about 83 degrees in latitude).

In their report recently published in a journal titled Geophysical Research Letters, scientists from Northumbria University in the United Kingdom say that the canyons serve to control the flow of ice. Each of them provides a highway for ice to flow from the larger, stabler East Antarctic Ice Sheet into the smaller, less stable West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

"If weather conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these canals to flow much faster to the sea".

The greatest of the canyons is called Structure Trough. "That makes them really important, and we simply didn't know they existed before now".

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The Antarctic ice sheets are supposed to keep losing ice as the global warming keeps on increasing and this phenomenon is occurring, as we speak, with the ice platforms that are bordering the outer parts of the Eastern and Western ice sheets. Two other canyons are also massive.

Three canyons - named Foundation Trough, Patuxent Trough and Offset Rift Basin - slice through the mountain ranges that divide the two major regions of the frozen continent.

Researchers have actually found 3 huge canyons in among the last locations to be checked out in the world - under the ice at the South Pole.

To obtain to the flooring of Structure Trough, for instance, you would have to drill through over 2km of ice cover.

Ice flows away from this ridge either out towards to the Weddell Sea in the east or the Ross Sea in the west.

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"If the ice sheet thins or retreats, these topographically-controlled corridors could facilitate enhanced flow of ice further inland, and could lead to the West Antarctic ice divide moving".

The space agency is unable to gather the data itself, since most satellites are unable to observe the South Pole as spacecrafts can typically only fly up to about 83 degrees in latitude. Dr Ferraccioli said the findings help scientists "understand how the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may have responded to past change and how it may do so in the future". "This would, in turn, increase the speed and rate at which ice flows out from the center of Antarctica to its edges, leading to an increase in global sea levels". The inclination of their orbits prevents them from seeing into the ice of the southernmost continent.

The new geophysical data will enable new research to understand the geological processes that created the mountains and basins before the Antarctic ice sheet was even born, Ferracioli said.

Researchers theorize that the newly discovered canyons under the ice sheet have formed in a previous glacial period.

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