by Staff Writers
Bristol, England (UPI) Mar 12, 2013
Scientists say artificial gas tracers pumped into water at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet revealed a hidden network of rivers flowing beneath it.
Tracking the flow of water underneath giant ice sheets may give clues about the ways in which Greenland and Antarctica's enormous ice masses are reacting to our changing climate and how they might contribute to sea-level rise, the researchers said.
"Before we started this project five years ago, nobody really knew if and how water flowed at the bed of ice sheets," Jemma Wadham of the University of Bristol in Britain, one of the study's authors, said.
A team working nearly 40 miles inland pumped a fluorescent liquid and a traceable gas into water at the surface, while another team waited at the ice-sheet margins on the Greenland coast, waiting for the tracers to appear.
'It's quite a tense time -- you're sort of sampling in the dark because you don't know for sure where and when the tracers will come out," Wadham said.
The speed with which the tracers appeared suggested they had been carried in fast-flowing rivers beneath the ice, she said.
The study results will be fed into computer forecasts of ice-sheet responses to our warming climate, the researchers said.
This could have important consequences for understanding the overall stability of the ice sheets, a release from Britain's Natural Environment Research Council, which funded the study, said.
Beyond the Ice Age
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|