“The fact that our lake appears to have been stable for at least several decades, and then drained in a matter of weeks – or less – after a few very hot summers, may signal a fundamental change happening in the ice sheet,” Dr Howat said.
Dr Howat’s group calculated that the lake that formed it likely contained some 6.7 billion gallons of water.
And it disappeared in a single season – remarkably quickly by geologic standards. The scientists characterized the sudden drainage as catastrophic.
“We suspect that, as more meltwater reaches the base of the ice sheet, natural drainage tunnels along the Greenland coast are cutting further inland. The tunnels carry heat and water to areas that were once frozen to the bedrock, potentially causing the ice to melt faster,” Dr Howat said.