Tampa scientists examined hundreds of feet chambers below the surface of Greenland Ice holes with the use of ropes. The frozen cave which is hundred feet below the surface of Greenland Ice sheet, save for an occasional blast or cracks disintegrating around the scientist’s feet.
(Photo : Nick Bondarev)
Ray of light went through the opening, thereby brightening slivers of high blue walls. It’s a Moulin, a gap that serves as a portal for meltwater, which descends under the surface. A 42years old Geology professor at University of South Florida, professor Jason Gulley studies these depths with other researchers with the hope to understand how the icy drainage system affects rising seas around the world.
“Nearly every river on the Greenland ice sheet ends in one of these pits, and scientists need a good sense of how, and where, the meltwater flows”He said. Professor Gulley descended on the ropes trying to mark a fragile block of ice that could easily break off. Sometimes, it’s often warmer under the ice, away from winds that spin up snow around camp.
Moulins Are Bigger Than What We Imagined
Gulley and other scientists found out that Moulins are way bigger than people guessed. They widen like a bell into vertical caverns, where the researchers follow the rays of their headlamps towards dark corners. The ice melt can be stored in vast chambers where water level varies as it does not drop right to the bottom. In 2018 and 2019, they have dropped two moulins.
Gulley said they’ll never be able to access the entire storm sewer system but seeing first several hundred feet of a couple of moulins has given them a start.According to Sarah Das, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, who studies Ice in Greenland “Moulins are a small component of a big system but their exploration is a really neat piece of the puzzle. It’s very hard to get inside an iceberg or get under Greenland.”
(Photo : Magic K)
Researchers Hold Ice With The Help Of Crampons
In order to lower a pit, researchers install 22-centimeter ice screws, then tie up roads and rappel, holding to the ice with the help of crampons fastened to their boots and remove chunks that could fall on them with axes.
Gulley was working as a student on rocky caves where he became interested in moulins. He laboured to secure funding to explore the Greenland moulins. Gulley said he and his colleagues found good luck when an ice climber, Will Gadd, got money for a science-film project from Red Bull.
“To do this as a private citizen would just be so expensive. Most times I’m going on these trips, I’m pretty stoked” Gulley said. He thinks of Greenland, even from afar as he doesn’t enjoy climbing in gyms but spends most of his time cave-diving in local springs.
“Climate scientists share the same frustrations that Doctors and epidemiologists have currently. They know what people need to do, cut emissions to slow the warmings that melts the ice, but it’s just that there’s no political will to do it” – he said.
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