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China's scientists find world's largest canyon under Antarctic ice sheet

By Liang Jun (People's Daily Online)    13:23, January 19, 2016

Researchers from China's 32nd scientific expedition to the Antarctic discovered a 1,000 kilometer-long canyon beneath an Antarctic ice sheet. The canyon exceeds the U.S. Grand Canyon in size; it is now the largest known canyon on the earth's surface, Xinhua News reported on Monday. 

Discovered near the Princess Elizabeth Land, the canyon is more than 1,000 kilometers in length and 1,500 meters in depth. The maximum width at the top of the canyon is 26.5 kilometers. This is the first time that any large canyon has been found in the region.

According to data collected on the site, Chinese scientists have made three major scientific discoveries there, said Sun Bo, vice director of China's 32nd Antarctic expedition team. 

The first big discovery is the world's largest canyon, which was beneath an Antarctic ice sheet near the Princess Elizabeth Land. 

The second big discovery is that there are numerous subglacial lakes and subglacial water channels, also beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. These lakes and bodies of water are interconnected. The width of one of the lakes reaches 26.5 kilometers, and another was formed in a location where the thickness of the ice is over 4,000 meters. This discovery will play an important role in future research. 

The third key finding is that the temperature of deep ice in Princess Elizabeth Land is noticeably higher than in other regions, which makes it easier for ice to melt, meaning that lakes and other water systems form more easily. 

Since late November 2015, China's 32nd scientific expedition to the Antarctic has been using new equipment, including the first polar airplane (named Snow Eagle 601), to conduct large-scale scientific probes around Princess Elizabeth Land, covering an area of 866,000 square kilometers. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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