Greenland Ice Sheet Archives - State of the Planet

A researcher investigates a channel in the Greenland ice

The Greenland Ice Sheet Is Sponging Up Meltwater

As climate warms, the surface of the Greenland ice sheet is melting, and all that meltwater ends up in seasonal rivers that flow to the sea. At least that is what scientists have assumed until now. A new study has shown that some of the meltwater is actually being soaked into porous subsurface ice and held there, at least temporarily.

by |December 8, 2017

Radar Reveals Meltwater’s Year-Round Life Under Greenland Ice

An improved technique developed by a graduate student at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and her colleagues is making it possible to use airborne ice-penetrating radar to reveal meltwater’s life under the ice throughout the year.

by |January 5, 2017
Meltwater rivers on the greenland ice sheet. M. Tedesco/Columbia University

In Greenland, Exactly Where Meltwater Enters the Ocean Matters

In southern Greenland in summer, rivers have been streaming off the ice sheet, pouring cold fresh water into the fjords. A new study tracks where that meltwater goes—with surprising results.

by |April 25, 2016

The Changing Upernavik Waterfront

Project Background: Changing conditions in Greenland’s northwest glaciers over the last decade have led to a range of questions about water temperature and circulation patterns in the fjords where ocean water meets the glacial fronts.

by |July 14, 2014

The Art of Flying

Flying. It is something we are almost all familiar with, and yet I expect few of us have really sat back to appreciate the actual science of it. For the past 10 weeks we have been flying, not just a day or two a week but five or six days a week depending on the… read more

by |May 30, 2012

The ‘Glory’ in Clouds and Other Amazing Sights!

If you look carefully at the picture below you will see a small shadow of our plane completely encircled in a rainbow. This optical phenomenon, called a “glory,” can develop when the plane flies directly between the sun and a cloud below. Flying over the ice sheet in the far northeast of Greenland we saw… read more

by |May 24, 2012

Our Best Flight Yet

Evidence of the retreat of glaciers since the last glacial maximum (check), flying over sites of ancient Inuit, Norse and present day settlements (check), and a personal recollection of my own past in this location (check).

by |May 9, 2012

Clues to Sea Level Rise Are Hidden In and Below Greenland’s Ice

Greenland is surrounded by a ring of high mountains that work like fingers encircling the ice to hold it in place. Ice sliding from between these “fingers” into the surrounding waters results in a major human impact – Sea Level Rise.

by |April 29, 2012

Midgard Glaciers hold the mark of Thor

To Norse mythology Midgard is a place that is impassable, surrounded by a world of ocean. Thor, the hammer-wielding warrior god often traveled across to Midgard, and one imagines evidence of his fiery power remains in the highly charged rocks that are left behind. Magnetized rocks containing Thor’s energy and the fiery touch of his… read more

by |April 19, 2012
East coast Greenland

Clouding our Image

Even in idyllic Greenland some days start to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”, however the turn of events today broke that thread. Over our two weeks in Kangerlussuaq we have ended our evenings with a science and weather report, and the hope of flying the program over both coasts. Each morning we wake up,… read more

by |April 17, 2012