Recent 3D scans revealed huge channels — each 10 times wider than the River Thames — that were carved by rivers crossing much of the UK and Western Europe thousands to millions of years ago.
According to The Daily Mail, these huge channels buried under the North Sea are remnants of Ice Age landscapes.
They were carved up by the glacial rivers that once crossed much of the UK and Western Europe. Found hundreds of feet beneath the sea floor, these structures have been revealed in new detail by 3D seismic reflection scans that were analyzed by researchers led from the British Antarctic Survey. Each structure is a so-called tunnel valley, a U-shaped gouge formed by melt water draining underneath the vast ice sheets that formerly coated the area that today is the swathe of the North Sea between Scotland and Norway.
The team explained how these ancient valleys shine a light on how ice sheets react to a warming climate, and might help us understand how glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland will respond to climate change.
"Although we have known about the huge glacial channels in the North Sea for some time, this is the first time we have imaged fine-scale landforms within them," said paper author and geophysicist Kelly Hogan of the British Antarctic Survey.
These delicate features tell us about how water moved through the channels — beneath the ice — and even how ice simply stagnated and melted away.
It is very difficult to observe what goes on underneath our large ice sheets today, particularly how moving water and sediment is affecting ice flow and we know that these are important controls on ice behavior.
"As a result, using these ancient channels to understand how ice will respond to changing conditions in a warming climate is extremely relevant and timely," Hogan explains.