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Where is the water under the Greenland ice sheet?


Recent analysis of radar-depth sounder data has shown that many areas of the Greenland ice sheet have melt water under the base. The extent of the wet base and distribution of melt water are poorly known. Also lakes under the ice have not been discovered in contrast with those in Antarctica. The effect of the water beneath the ice, however, is well documented: it lubricates the bed and removes the friction between the basal ice and underlying bedrock. The ice with a wet bed flows faster, reacts rapidly to changes in climate and the basal-melt water contributes to the fresh-water supply to the ocean from the Greenland ice sheet. The primary objectives of the project are to map melt water extent of the Greenland ice sheet and its impact by tracing internal layers and analyzing bedrock returns from airborne radio-echo sounding data, and use mapping results in conjunction with ice-sheet and hydrostatic models for the movement of the basal water to predict the ice-sheet s response to climate change. The information derived from deep ice-cores that reach the bed will be used to constrain models. We will also study the basal material (dust, DNA and microbiological material) and bedrock properties from the deep-ice core sites. This will add a further dimension to the study and provide opportunities to look for life under the ice and constrain the age of the Greenland ice sheet. The proposed research is a high risk project because of the difficulty in accessing basal conditions under 3-km of ice with a potential for high payoff science. The team will consist of scientists and engineers with expertise in the palaeoclimate, radar sounding and signal processing, and ice-sheet models.

Call for proposal

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Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Ivan Kristoffersen (Mr.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)