Mapping the Hidden Worlds Beneath Greenland’s Ice
New technology is helping scientists look into and underneath Greenland’s massive ice sheet, uncovering important clues to future sea level rise.
The massive chunk of ice covering Greenland accounts for around 10 percent of the frozen freshwater on Earth. If all that were to melt, it could raise the global sea level more than 20 feet (6 meters).
To understand the future of all that ice, scientists are peering into its past. Using the latest technology to map what’s hidden beneath—and within—Greenland’s ice, researchers have found huge ancient river systems, unexpected ice flow, and troubling melting patterns.
Much of the latest research on the island’s ice sheet has been based on data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge, a decade-long airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice. Since 2008, planes carrying loads of cutting-edge instruments—including ice-penetrating radar—have been flying over Antarctica and Greenland for two