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Science & Technology

Greenland's vanishing lakes mystery solved

By T.K. Randall
June 5, 2015 · Comment icon 4 comments

The Greenland ice sheet is continuing to melt. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Christine Zenino
Scientists have found what is causing billions of gallons of water to drain out within a matter of hours.
The mystery began almost ten years ago when Greenland's 2.2 square-mile North Lake somehow managed to drain 12 billion gallons of water within the space of just two hours.

Scientists determined that the water had drained out through gigantic fractures that had opened up at the bottom of the lake, a discovery that provided an answer to where the water had gone but failed to explain how such huge cracks could open up so quickly in the first place.

In a new study published this week however experts have finally got to the bottom of this long enduring enigma by determining that these huge fractures are produced by the tension-related stress placed upon the ice by the movements of the ice sheet.
This phenomenon seems to only affect a minority of Greenland's lakes as most drain out slowly.

In addition to solving the decade-old mystery scientists believe that their findings will also help to provide a better understanding of how fast the ice sheet flows during the summer.

"It's half of the equation of how the Greenland ice sheet contributes to sea level rise, with the other half being the years when the ice sheet melts quicker than the snow is deposited," said study author Laura Stevens from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Source: Live Science | Comments (4)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Zalmoxis 9 years ago
Awesome. Shoulda known it was cracks in the bottom. Where else could the water go? Thank you for the link and article.
Comment icon #2 Posted by BeastieRunner 9 years ago
That's pretty cool.
Comment icon #3 Posted by paperdyer 9 years ago
I find it fascinating that a lake can be inside a glacier. Localized warming at work I guess.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Bavarian Raven 9 years ago
Just hope the water does flood out somewhere all at once :s

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