May 22, 2024

Climate Change: The Disappearance of Antarctic Meteorites – Welt

Sciences Climate change

Meteorites in Antarctica disappear

Field research conducted by the Instituto Antarctico Chileno on the Union Glacier (Antarctica)

Field research conducted by the Instituto Antarctico Chileno on the Union Glacier (Antarctica)

Source: Veronica Tolinar, University

As temperatures rise, meteorites are diving deep into the Arctic, and it is estimated that more than 300,000 of them are on the ice. Visions are also lost. Researchers appeal to speed up the process of searching for objects

FifthA few years ago, astronaut Alexander Gerst also went looking for them: meteorites from Antarctica are a treasure trove of insights into the history of our solar system. It is easy to see it on the bright ground of the ice-covered continent. About a quarter of the estimated 300,000 to 800,000 meteorites in Antarctica will be lost to melting ice by 2050, according to a study.

Currently, about 1,000 meteorites are recovered in Antarctica every year, nearly five times that number disappearing into the ice and thus being lost to science, according to a research team in the specialist journal.The nature of climate change“When extraterrestrial objects sink, a lot of knowledge is lost,” she reported.

“They provide information about the origin of life on Earth or about the composition of the Moon and other celestial bodies,” said Daniele Farinotti of the Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and the ETH Zurich.

Ice sampling during a 2023/2024 field research mission to Union Glacier (Antarctica)

Ice sampling during a 2023/2024 field research mission to Union Glacier (Antarctica)

Source: Veronica Tolinar, University

Researchers collect meteorites that provide information about the composition of the Moon and other celestial bodies

Researchers collect meteorites that provide information about the composition of the Moon and other celestial bodies

Source: Stephen Goderis, Vrije Universität

Meteorites sink very quickly because of their color: “Even at temperatures well below freezing, dark meteorites heat up so much in the sun that they can melt the ice directly under the meteorite,” explained Veronica Tolinar from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Co-leader of the study. The warm meteorite creates a cavity in the ice and eventually disappears completely. As atmospheric temperatures rise, the surface temperature of the ice also increases, accelerating the process further.

See also  Three astronauts arrive at the International Space Station (ISS)

Meteorites sink into the ice sheet every tenth of a degree

The researchers predicted the contraction by combining satellite observations, climate projections and modeling calculations. For every tenth of a degree that global air temperature rises, between 5,000 and 12,000 meteorites sink into the ice sheet and become invisible. In order to be able to secure as much valuable material as possible, the recovery process must be accelerated and intensified, advises Farinotti's team.

Antarctica meteorite HUT 18036 partly in ice

Antarctica meteorite HUT 18036 partly in ice

Source: Catherine Joy, University of Manchester, Lost Antarctic Meteorites Project

Antarctica is thus the most productive location of all: about 60 percent of the approximately 80,000 meteorites ever found on Earth come from the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet. Because of currents in the ice sheet, meteorites, usually a few centimeters in size, concentrate over thousands of years in so-called drift zones. There, scientists search for alien remains on foot or by snowmobile.

Read also

Single use of story (4)_edited

Within the framework of the Ansmet mission – “The Search for Antarctic Meteorites”, a program run by NASA, among others – geophysicist Alexander Gerst also searched for meteorites in the 2019/2020 season. The team found more than 300 pieces.