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Greenland Meltwater Rushes Out Faster Than Niagara Falls


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Greenland Meltwater Rushes Out Faster Than Niagara Falls

Friday, April 18, 2008

In July of 2006, the frigid water of a large meltwater lake atop the Greenland Ice Sheet drained in less than two hours, cascading down through the ice sheet faster than the rushing waters of Niagara Falls.

Scientists were awed by the event. And today they explained what happened.

The water gushed all the way down to the bed of the ice sheet, through almost 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) of ice.

The flood doubled the average speed of the ice sheet’s slide across the bedrock underneath it.

Scientists have long suspected that surface meltwater could drain to the base of an ice sheet and lubricate the ice sheet’s flow out to sea. But no one had ever observed the phenomenon — until now.

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