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Supraglacial lakes may concentrate water so that it causes the ice to fracture and water to be injected directly to the bed, where the ice meets the ground.

Ice Water

WHOI glaciologist Sarah Das—who calls herself a "frozen oceanographer"—snapped this aerial view of a "supraglacial" lake in the summer of 2003. As the Greenland ice sheet melts, more of these seasonal lakes are forming on top of the ice. They seem to play a role, Das and colleagues believe, in making the glaciers slide faster from the highlands down to the sea. Melt water concentrates into ponds and lakes, then disappeares suddenly, perhaps by opening cracks in the ice and lubricating the bottoms of the glaciers. Das is returning to Greenland from July 8-28 to study the size, structure, and plumbing of this ice water system. (Photo by Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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