Subglacial Lakes Discovered in Greenland

British researchers have revealed that the seemingly solid ice of Greenland conceals two subglacial lakes. These lakes reside 800 meters below the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet and may provide an insight into the effects of global warming on the environment.


While it is widely known that Antarctica is home to hundreds of subglacial lakes, the recent finding of the Greenland lakes was a revelation to scientific communities. They were detected via airborne radar, and the area of the lakes is between eight and ten kilometres squared each. Researchers state that the Greenland lakes are structurally far removed from any other subglacial lakes in the world in order to excuse the previous assumed absence of any subglacial lakes. It was presumed that no lakes existed because the ice would have squeezed out any water underneath. Evidently, the findings contradict their presumptions and the unexpected results may assist in the understanding of global warming and the rising sea level.


The subglacial lakes could have been up to three times larger than their current size in the past, according to the report of the researchers. This startling finding may indicate that current global warming is insignificant compared to previous warm periods in Earth’s history. This information provides fresh evidence of temperature fluctuation as a part of global history in addition to providing some perspective in regards to the current global warming hype. This discovery may dampen the excitement of those who claim that humans are the direct and most significant cause of the gradual worldwide temperature increase that we are currently experiencing.


Stephen Palmer is confident that the study of the water beneath the Greenland ice sheet will provide valuable information that will allow researchers to predict the effect of future warming on the Greenland ice sheet. The observation of the water will enable researchers to form an understanding of the ‘plumbing system’ of the ice sheet that causes the movement of the ice sheet. This movement can negatively impact the lives of the population of Greenland, and it is therefore crucial to understand and predict the locomotion of the ice sheet. Researchers cannot predict the movement of Greenland’s ice sheet based on the information gained from studying Antarctic lakes, as the Greenland lakes seem to have been formed by vastly different processes and exhibit extremely different behaviour. It is speculated that Greenland’s subglacial lakes are fed by cracks in the surface of the ice during the warmer months of the year, while in Antarctica the temperature remains below freezing all year round, which disallows this kind of relationship between the surface water and the subglacial lakes.


The study of the lakes may also help to predict future rises in the sea level due to global warming. As the ice warms and the size of the subglacial lakes increases, the ice is likely to travel more rapidly to the sea, and thus contribute to the rising sea level. This increasing sea level may eventually flood small island communities and even coastal cities. The changing sea level may also impact negatively on marine wildlife and thusly cause the decline of aquaculture and commercial fishing. As a consequence, the constant monitoring of potential contributors to the rising sea level, such as glacial movement, is necessary so that communities and businesses may be warned far in advance of potential flooding and other negative effects.

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