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Images: Greenland lakes

Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Washington established camps atop the Greenland Ice Sheet in 2006 and 2007 to monitor lakes that form atop glaciers when ice melts during the summer. They returned for a third summer in the field in July, 2008.

(Photo by Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Each summer, ice melts and water streams into low-lying areas on top of the Greenland ice sheet to form "supraglacial lakes."   (Photo by Ian Joughin, UW Polar Science Center)

Water from melted ice rushes in a stream across the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet in July 2007. (Photo by Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Scientists walk along the edge of a large ice canyon formed over many years as a meltwater stream flows across the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet—much the way the Colorado River cut through land to form the Grand Canyon. (Photo by Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Thousands of supraglacial lakes form on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet each summer. They can be miles wide. The lakes concentrate a weight of water, building up pressure that can induce cracks in the ice at the bottom of the lakes. The cracks, called moulins, can extend through a mile or more of ice—all the way to the base of the glacier, where ice meets the ground. (Photo by Ian Joughin, UW Polar Science Center)

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists Sarah Das (left) and Mark Behn established a field camp to study a Greenland supraglacial lake in the summer of 2007. Here, they stand in front of a channel of water formed from melted ice. (Photo by Maya Bhatia, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The research team (including Mark Behn, standing here near a meltwater stream) set up a variety of instruments on the ice to learn about supraglacial lakes. These included GPS stations to track the movement of the ice; seismometers to record vibrations from "icequakes"  that occur when cracks form beneath supraglacial lakes and drains the lakes: weather stations; and pressure loggers to measure changes in lakes levels over the year.
(Photo by Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The research team also included biologist Maya Bhatia, a graduate student in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, who seeks to learn more about microbes and other microscopic plants and animals that live in and on the ice. Here, she sets up an incubation experiment on the edge of a supraglacial lake. (Photo by Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)