Most of Greenland is covered in a thick sheet of ice, but scientists have just discovered another vast canyon beneath the 460 mile glacier. Headed by Jonathan Bamber at the University of Bristol, the study concludes that a canyon twice the length of the Grand Canyon lurks beneath a whopping two miles of ice. Scientists think that the canyon was carved by an ancient river system, a new discovery that has intrigued research teams to further investigate what lies below major continental ice sheets.
The Greenland ice sheet has been making news as of late as global warming has caused the ancient glacial body to lose mass, pumping up the world’s sea levels. Scientists from the University of Bristol have been monitoring the ice sheet, using radar data from airplane expeditions, and so have researchers with NASA’s IceBridge program.
The canyon, carved into the bedrock, has never been seen by human eyes. It snakes from deep in Greenland’s interior up north to the Petermann fjord, where it meets the Arctic Ocean. The discovery of the canyon has given scientists insight into the route of meltwater from the mile-thick ice sheet. With their data, they are hypothesizing that the canyon could be a direct channel of melt water from the center of the ice sheet to the Arctic Ocean. There is also some concern that the canyon may increase meltwater in the coming years as global warming affects the mass of the Greenland ice sheet as a whole.