The flow of glacial meltwater over the surface of Greenland could contribute as much to sea level rise as all the other processes that drain water from the ice sheet, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
NASA’s summary doubles as an obituary for co-author Alberto Behar, a Jet Propulsion Lab scientist who died in a small-plane crash three days before the paper was published.
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The Greenlandic ice sheet is “vast and difficult to study from ground level,” NASA reports, and this was the first look at the drainage system of its summer rivers and streams. The researchers “were especially interested in learning how much of the meltwater remained within the ice sheet and how much drained to the ocean.” They found that virtually all of it drains away through sinkholes.
In related news, Michael Bevis of Ohio State University talked to CBC As It Happens about the flow of warmer water in and out of the ice sheet through sub-glacial lakes.
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