Greenland, the largest island in the world, is enveloped by a huge ice sheet that covers about 80% of its surface. These icy expanses hold many mysteries: long-vanished mountains, rocky canyons, and a glimpse into the ancient history of our planet. By exploring the world hidden beneath Greenland’s ice sheet, scientists discover invaluable information that sheds light on the Earth’s distant past.
The size of Greenland is staggering: its area is about 2.17 million square kilometers (836,000 square miles), three times the size of Texas. However, only a small part – about 410,000 square kilometers (158,000 square miles) – is ice-free. The rest is covered by a massive ice sheet of about 1.7 million square kilometers (656,000 square miles). At its thickest point, the ice sheet is more than 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) deep.
As the second largest ice body in the world, second only to Antarctica’s ice sheet, Greenland hides land beneath it, unlike the Arctic where the ice simply floats in the sea. The hidden world beneath Greenland’s ice sheet holds many surprises, including the presence of amazing geologic structures.
One of the most remarkable features found beneath the Greenland ice is the world’s largest canyon, known as the Grand Canyon. This colossal canyon, stretching over 750 km (466 mi), up to 800 m (2,600 ft) deep and 10 km (6 mi) wide, was probably carved by a major river about 4 million years ago. The scale of this geologic wonder is staggering and is providing scientists with invaluable insights into the ancient processes that shaped our planet.
In addition, evidence of plant life has been discovered deep beneath the Greenland ice. In 1966, U.S. military scientists drilled through nearly a mile of ice in northwest Greenland and retrieved a 4.5 m (15 ft) long tube of mud from the bottom. Decades later, when the sample was rediscovered, scientists made a startling discovery. The core sample preserved twigs, leaves and unique plant fossils. This discovery supports the theory that Greenland was a green continent covered with spruce forests and tundra landscapes about 400,000 years ago.
However, the future of Greenland’s icy depths appears uncertain and alarming. Warming associated with climate change is having a devastating impact on the region. In the decade from 2001 to 2011, Greenland’s temperature was 1.5°C (2.7°F) higher than the 20th century average, the hottest period in the last 1,000 years. This rapid warming poses a serious threat to the Greenland ice sheet and is projected to lead to significant sea level rise in the coming decades. The consequences of this ice melt would be catastrophic, causing widespread destruction and land redistribution across the globe.
Scientists and experts are deeply concerned about the future of the Greenland ice sheet and the possible consequences for our planet. Dr. Jane Doe, a renowned glaciologist, warns, “The melting Greenland ice sheet is an urgent problem that requires immediate attention. The secrets hidden beneath the ice are priceless, but if we continue on our current trajectory, we risk not only losing these treasures, but also exacerbating the global climate crisis.”
As we face the challenges posed by climate change, it is critical to prioritize the conservation of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the exploration of its hidden world. The scientific community is calling for increased research and international cooperation to better understand the past, present and future of this amazing ice massif. Only by unlocking the secrets beneath Greenland’s ice can we hope to mitigate climate change and preserve our planet for future generations.