Greenland’s Disappearing Ice Lakes

While the battle rages between climate deniers and the consensus of the scientific community, strange things are afoot in Greenland. The PBS series NOVA documents the country’s rapidly changing landscape with the help of survey photographer James Balog. Extreme Ice is broken into six parts but the most ominous segment deals with Greenland’s strange disappearing lakes.

In recent years the summer melt season in Greenland has grown hotter and now lasts two weeks longer than it did only a decade ago. This has resulted in huge, fresh water lakes forming on the ice sheet surface. Some of these lakes are miles in diameter and up to 50 feet deep. Although these melt lakes contain hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, satellite imagery has recorded their disappearances in just the span of a few hours. Years ago it was believed the water was simply re-absorbed into the surrounding ice, but recent surveys have discovered something more dangerous. The water is boring down through the ice to the bedrock below and lubricating the entire ice sheet of Greenland. The implications of this, if true, are staggering.

One such amazing lake event was witnessed first hand by the NOVA team and documented for the special. The entire 60 minute broadcast is available on the PBS website and is worth your time. Watching these incredible frozen landscape melt away is strangely beautiful but deeply unsettling. As climate skeptics dominate the media and introduce measures in government bent on denying action to stop the effects of man-made warming, Greenland is slowly but surely slipping away. The debate about what’s causing climate change may never end, but the real question now is what are we doing to prepare for the coming disaster?

New Pieces of the Climate Puzzle

News out of Moscow this morning that Russian scientists are evacuating a research station near the North Pole early due to the increasing effects of climate change. Usually the floating ice station is abandoned in late August, but this year the 21 researchers and two dogs will leave now, in mid July.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the earth, satellite photos of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica reveal that the huge tract of ice is “hanging by a thread”. Neal Young who is a glaciologist with the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart, says the breakup of the Wilkins Ice Shelf is inevitable and could lead to the de-stabilization of the entire peninsula.

Just two more examples of what is happening around the globe due to climate change. And while the ice caps melt, species die and we continue to pump out millions of tons of pollutants, George Bush has decided that his administration can’t be bothered to do anything about it. Not only that, but we have discovered that Vice President Dick Cheney edited a recent EPA report on greenhouse gasses, and just today Bush lifts the executive ban on off-shore oil drilling. Instead of funding new research into alternative and clean energy sources, this administration continues its long conflict of interest with big oil and the fossil fuel industry to help pollute our environment while contributing to global warming.

Worst. President. Ever.