A team of US researcher finally unlocked the bizarre phenomenon surrounding the rapidly draining lakes of Greenland.
Last year scientists were left confounded when a meltwater lake in Greenland atop an ice sheet suddenly drained. A team of researchers from US claim they have figured out the phenomenon behind the mysteriously disappearing lakes and the findings could lead them to predict the seas level rise globally.
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The research was carried out by collaboration between MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) as a joint program in Oceanography.
The water in the lakes rapidly disappears due to the presence of ‘Moulins’ that are vertical channels present in the ice sheet. The Moulins repeatedly funnel the water above and beneath the glacier. As a result of the movements of moulins the surface beneath the supragalcial lakes cracks and the water empties within days.
"Our discovery will help us predict more accurately how supraglacial lakes will affect ice sheet flow and sea level rise as the region warms in the future," said lead author Laura Stevens, a graduate student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MIT/WHOI) Joint Program in Oceanography.
The draining of lakes is responsible for the rising sea levels however the US research team claims the water draining into the ocean is mostly coming from the areas consisting of warmer altitudes on the ice sheet which exhibit moulins activity. Therefore there is more risk of flooding the sea from the warmer attitude areas than the rest of Greenland.
The disappearing lakes in Greenland were discovered when scientists from the University of Cornell and the Ohio State University found that the water in two lakes of Greenland mysteriously disappeared. According to the scientists the lakes held about billions of gallons of water which had disappeared suddenly.
The ice sheets of Greenland have an area of more than 600,000 square miles i.e. 1.6 million square kilometres and the disappearance of water from these areas will contribute to a large portion of rising sea levels as the lakes melt.
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The research published on June 4 in the journal Nature.