One of the main things the FirnCover project studies is the way that increased meltwater has affected the densification of snow into ice on the Greenland ice sheet in a warming climate.  In 2012 we made a discovery about the way that recent meltwater in parts of Greenland were rapidly expanding runoff on the ice sheet, and set out in 2013 and 2015 to gather more data to make the case.  Several of the FirnCover cores we collected in 2015 helped conclusively pin this down.

Today in the journal Nature Climate Change, we published a new study explaining how Greenland’s recent melt has formed a “lid of ice” which causes areas of runoff to rapidly expand up the ice sheet’s interior, contributing further to sea level rise.  CIRES has put out a press release overviewing the paper, and co-author Dr. Dirk van As (a longtime collaborator and welcome contributor with the FirnCover project) has an elucidating video that gives a great explanation of the phenomenon as well.

CIRES Press Release:

Greenland’s “sponge” affected by atmospheric warming

Greenland Channels

Dirk van As’ video: “An Ice Lid: More Greenland Meltwater Into the Oceans”



As usual, the work is far from over, and we have several other parallel papers in the works, both adding to this study and exploring similar phenomena happening just under (and on!) the surface of Greenland’s vast interior.  But this study was a big one, and we’re happy to see it published.  Stay tuned!

– Mike


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