The last time Greenland melted was 400,000 years ago and the pattern then mirrors the one we are witnessing today. How carbon levels rose so quickly half a million years ago is a mystery. Today’s rapid melting isn’t.
In just the last few years, Greenland has lost roughly one trillion tons of ice, causing sea-levels to rise at an alarming rate. Between 2011 and 2014, researchers say the loss contributed to twice the average sea-level rise from the two decades before.
Aside from alarming sea levels, the rapid melting of ice has uncovered some interesting discoveries under Greenland’s ancient ice fields.
The ancient basin beneath the ice
Geophysicists recently discovered evidence of an ancient drainage network buried beneath Greenland’s ice sheet.
Satellite images confirm the vast network once extended across nearly a fifth of its total surface and experts found some of the channels within this system were about a mile deep and over seven miles wide.
The find covers an area comparable in size to the Ohio River Basin, which is the largest tributary of the Mississippi, and covers one fifth of Greenland.