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Team charts ice sheet

A TEAM headed by Chinese scientists has discovered the origin and plotted the early evolution of Antarctica's ice sheet, work that could be important in assessing the future impact of climate change.

The findings by the Polar Research Institute of China in Shanghai and experts from the United Kingdom and Japan are published in the latest issue of leading scientific journal Nature.

The team, headed by Sun Bo from the polar institute, visited the Antarctic from November 2007 to April 2008. They made the first detailed survey of Dome A, the highest point on the ice sheet, using radar to determine the shape and features of the mountain beneath it.

They found Dome A was the birthplace of the ice sheet, which accounts for 98 percent of the Antarctic.

"We found some potential dynamic systems keeping the ice sheet stable for the past 14 million years," Sun Bo said yesterday.

The discovery will be useful in the study of the impact of global warming on the ice sheet, Sun said.

What scientists saw underneath the ice can help them learn how to control the disappearance of the ice sheet in the future.

The team also for the first time gathered detailed information about the Gamburtsev Mountains at Dome A in eastern Antarctica.


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