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Meltzone 2011: CCNY expedition to track life and death of supraglacial lake
Date:6/14/2011

How do you observe signs of climate change in real time? Dr. Marco Tedesco, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at The City College of New York, plans to be the first to catch sight of one dramatic indicator of a warming world on the Greenland ice sheet this summer, and through social media, people will be able to track his progress.

Professor Tedesco arrived in Greenland earlier this month to attempt to witness for the first time the entire lifecycle of a supra-glacial lake from earliest formation to its catastrophic draining. These huge bodies of water form each year atop melting glaciers. They commonly measure a kilometer or more across, but can drain suddenly within a matter of hours.

Professor Tedesco plans to use data he gathers on his expedition to answer lingering questions about these mysterious pools, including: What causes them to drain? Where does the water go? How does this affect the glaciers' inevitable flow toward the sea?

"This rapid draining is roughly equivalent to emptying a thousand Olympic-sized swimming pools at a rate of a dozen pools per minute," notes Nick Steiner, a graduate student in Professor Tedesco's Cryospheric Processes Lab. Mr. Steiner conducted research with Professor Tedesco in Greenland last year.

Professor Tedesco and his team will hike across the Jakobshavn Isbr glacier in search of a lake to monitor and eventually make camp on the ice in the midst of an unstable landscape of embryonic lakes, streams and sub-glacier drainage.

Rounding out the expedition party are graduate student Patrick Alexander of the CUNY Graduate Center, biologist Christine Foreman of Montana State University, glaciologist Ian Willis and graduate student Alison Banwell of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, UK.

With such a large volume of water flowing out of the lakes at the surface, under the glacier or thundering into deep holes calle
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Contact: Jessa Netting
jnetting@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-7615
City College of New York
Source:Eurekalert

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