NASA Study Identifies New Pathway for Greenland Meltwater to Reach Ocean
Cracks in the Greenland Ice Sheet let one of its aquifers drain to the ocean, new NASA research finds. The aquifers, discovered only recently, are unusual in that they trap large amounts of liquid water within the ice sheet. Until now, scientists did not know what happened to the water stored away in this reservoir -- the discovery will help fine tune computer models of Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise.
“This paper illuminates the fate of the aquifer’s water,” said Kristin Poinar, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Before, we didn’t know if the water froze inside the ice sheet or reemerged onto the ice surface. In either of those scenarios, the meltwater would not contribute to sea level rise.”
Now, using a new computer model that tests whether certain meltwater-filled cracks can fracture to the base of the ice sheet, Poinar and her colleagues have shown that the meltwater does reach the ocean.
Continue reading at NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center
Image via NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center