Mysterious River May Be Running Deep Below the Surface in Greenland, New Study Says

© AP Photo / John McConnicoViews of glaciers, icebergs and details of the Greenland ice cap
Views of glaciers, icebergs and details of the Greenland ice cap - Sputnik International
The announcement comes several days after Columbia University researchers discovered the remains of an ancient lake under Greenland. Scientists say that the finding could not only shed light on the island’s past, but also provide insight into its future, in particular about how quickly the ice covering is melting.

An international team of scientists has announced that they may have discovered a river flowing deep below the surface of Greenland. "The results are consistent with a long subglacial river," says Christopher Chambers from Hokkaido University in Japan. He added, however, that "considerable uncertainty remains."

The uncertainty Chambers refers to stems from previous studies and aerial surveys of Greenland, which detected a huge subglacial valley system below large parts of the island. Studies also signaled that the valley is segmented, which prevents water from flowing freely through it.

In this Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 file photo, a glacier calves icebergs into a fjord off the Greenland ice sheet in southeastern Greenland. - Sputnik International
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Chambers and his colleagues conducted a study designed as a "thought experiment", which explored a possibility that the valley is not divided into pieces, but runs as an unbroken river.

The findings of the study, published in the journal The Cryosphere on 12 November, suggest that the purported river flows from the center of Greenland to the northwest of the island. Scientists say that if the results of their experiment are correct the lake may stretch for 1,000 kilometers.

"Additional radar surveys are needed to confirm the simulations are accurate,” says Ralph Greve from Hokkaido University, who has been developing the called Simulation Code for Polythermal Ice Sheets (SICOPOLIS) model used in the study. "This could introduce a fundamentally different hydrological system for the Greenland ice sheet. The correct simulation of such a long subglacial hydrological system could be important for accurate future ice sheet simulations under a changing climate."
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