Glacial meltwater speeding ice sheet deterioration from the inside

By on July 21, 2013

A new study from scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder has shown that meltwater from ice sheets can expedite the sheets’ deterioration in previously unknown ways, according to a release from the university.

Researchers used satellite data and developed a new model to show that when the sun heats ice sheets, water pools on the surface and eventually finds its way into cracks in the ice. Once inside these cracks, the meltwater heats the ice sheets from within and causes widespread melting.

Scientists previously believed that accelerated ice melt only occurred at the terminal regions of ice sheets.

The findings could play an important role in understanding how glacial and ice sheet melt could happen quicker than previously anticipated.

Image: Greenland ice sheet (Credit: Hannes Grobe, via Wikimedia Commons)

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