Scientists from the University of Tasmania explained the sudden disappearance of the lake in Antarctica: it probably flowed into the ocean due to a crack in the glacier.
During the work, the authors analyzed images from the ICESat-2 satellite, which captured the Aymery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica.
The photographs revealed that in June 2019, a large lake with a volume of 600-750 million cubic meters of water disappeared in less than a week. On the site of the former lake, a crater-like depression with an area of about 11 km² was formed.
We believe that the water accumulated in the deep lake opened a crack in the ice shelf under the lake and flowed out into the ocean. This process is known as hydraulic fracturing. This sudden event appears to be the culmination of decades of accumulation and storage of meltwater.
Roland Warner, Study Lead and Glaciologist, Australian Antarctic Partnership Program
The authors determined that the ice surface at the site of the lake sank 80 m, and the surrounding floating glacier, having dropped the water load, rose by 36 m.
Based on the results of the work, they concluded that the water was able to break through the glacier about 1.5 km thick. It is noted that this is the first time that scientists are faced with hydraulic fracturing of this magnitude.
The authors say it is too early to conclude that the draining of the lake was due only to a warming climate.