Researchers have detected groundwater beneath a glacier in Greenland for the first time using airborne radar data. If applicable to other glaciers and ice sheets, the technique could allow for more accurate predictions of future sea-level rise.
“This is really one of the first cases where you can say, shockingly, in some ways, these slow, calm ice sheets care a lot about a single extreme event in a particularly warm year," Dusty Schroeder, said.
Researchers have deciphered a trove of data that shows one season of extreme melt can reduce the Greenland Ice Sheet’s capacity to store future meltwater – and increase the likelihood of future melt raising sea levels.
“We developed a way that a water pocket can move laterally – and that’s very important,” said Stanford geophysicist Gregor Steinbrügge. “It can move along thermal gradients, from cold to warm, and not only in the down direction as pulled by gravity.”
“One of the reasons we’re studying Thwaites Glacier is because of its shape,” says Dustin Schroeder, adding that like the Antarctic ice sheets themselves, the massive glacier could have been a big contributor to sea level rise in the past.
“They didn’t know what the shape of the continent was, whether it had mountains — this wasn’t about glaciology or studying ice sheets. It was really fundamental Earth exploration,” says Dusty Schroeder.
"Thwaites is one of the fastest-changing, most-potentially unstable glaciers in Antarctica and, as such, understanding it is key for understanding the evolution and potential sea-level contribution of the whole ice sheet," Dustin Schroeder says.
Stanford Earth's David Lobell, Rob Jackson, Erik Sperling, Dustin Schroeder, Sally Benson, Roz Naylor, Michael Machala, Rosemary Knight and Kate Maher have received funding for interdisciplinary research to solve major environmental problems.
A new method for observing water within ice has revealed stored meltwater that may explain the complex flow behavior of some Greenland glaciers, an important component for predicting sea-level rise in a changing climate.
Dustin Schroeder, an assistant professor of geophysics, has been granted a 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for his proposal to synthesize radar measurements of glaciers since the 1960s.
Stanford Earth researchers Eric Lambin, Dustin Schroeder, Alexandra Konings, Jamie Jones, Steven Gorelick, Kate Maher, and Jenny Suckale receive new grants from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment supporting innovative research and technology solutions to pressing environmental issues.
Two of the most rapidly changing glaciers in Antarctica, which are leading contributors to sea-level rise, may behave as an interacting system rather than separate entities, according to a new analysis of radar data.
Applying modern film scanning technology and machine learning to a rare trove of historical airborne radar measurements could provide new insights about how Antarctica’s ice sheets will change in a warming world.