Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 5:48 EDT
Meltwater Ponds Greenland
327 of 348

Meltwater Ponds, Greenland

November 19, 2007
Every year, a little more of the Greenland Ice Sheet melts away into the Davis Strait, revealing more and more of the bare brown land underneath. In this true-color Terra MODIS image from June 14, 2005, the edge of the ice sheet (running vertically through the image at the approximate center) features a phenomenon known as meltwater ponds. These ponds are collections of melted glacial water, and represent a serious danger to the ice sheet, as they can speed its breakup into the sea. Melt water travels downward through the ice until it reaches the area where the ice sheet and land are bonded. Once it reaches that area, it can weaken that bond, and speed the breakup of the ice.

The ponds themselves are somewhat easier to see in the false-color mouse-over image, and in the higher resolutions and FSI viewer. They appear as tiny dark dots against the grey melting ice. This phenomenon is not new - scientists have been tracking it for a number of years, and more information is available in the 250m.