Timelapse Footage Shows Billions of Liters of Water Draining to Bed of Greenland Ice Sheet

Researchers with the University of Cambridge conducted a ground-breaking study of the Greenland Ice Sheet in July, finding that the ice sheet, the second largest in the world, is potentially becoming unstable.

The instability is as a result of “fractures developing in response to faster ice flow and more meltwater forming on its surface.” The researchers used custom-built drones to carry out the first drone-based observations of how fractures form under meltwater lakes on the ice sheet, leading to “catastrophic lake drainages” that transfer huge amounts of water to the “sensitive environment” beneath the ice.

Timelapse footage released as part of the study shows the rapid draining of a meltwater lake through a fracture; according to the researchers, over five million cubic metres of water, or five billion liters, drained to the bottom of the ice in just five hours. Credit: Sam Doyle and Tom Chudley, University of Cambridge via Storyful