A new study of the Greenland ice sheet revealed that dozens of previously unknown lakes are under the massive ice.
The 56 lakes, ranging in size from about 650 feet to more than 3.5 miles, bring the number of lakes known to exist under the leaf to 60. According to the researchers, this is the first comprehensive look at the waters trapped under the leaf, which have rapidly melted in recent years as a result of global warming.
"We've found much more lakes than we thought," said Winnie Chu, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and co-author of a paper on research published on June 26 in Nature Communications.
What do the subglacial lakes mean for the future of the Greenland ice sheet in the face of the threat of climate change? If the melting of the ice sheet in Greenland and Antarctica, the site of Earth's other massive ice cover, is not controlled, sea level rise threatens to flood the low-lying coastal areas around the world, the researchers predict. Chu said the lakes could have a lubricating effect on the ice, an effect she compared to a waterslide. If the ice slips off into deeper layers, it may be even more susceptible to surface melting. Nevertheless, it is not clear that many lakes under the Greenland ice sheet will have a significant impact on sea level.
"We do not believe that sub-glacial lakes in Greenland pose a major problem for climate change," said Chu. The waters could even store meltwater that would otherwise end up in the oceans.
Scientists have long suspected that the soil under the Greenland ice sheet is littered with lakes under the ice, parts of the ice melt, others when melt water drips from above through holes, called moulins, to collect in depressions under the ice ,
In order to count the lakes, researchers looked for the unique signature of liquid water in more than two decades. They also looked at detailed topographic maps of the map, looking for telltale wells that indicate that NASA's planes are flying over Greenland ice sheet collected ice-penetrating radar data The ubglacial lake could be below it.
Twila Moon, a scientist who studied the Greenland ice sheet at the National Snow and Ice Data Center of the University of Colorado at Boulder and was not involved in the research, said she did not expect discoveries to influence enamel projections. "Many of these lakes seem to have existed there for a long time," she said. "At this point, we do not have to go back and recalculate how [the ice sheet] we think might change in the future." Relationship between the ice sheet and its subglacial lakes. "This is the kind of work that's at the top of the iceberg," she said. "They're just making progress understanding what's down there."
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