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What's Hidden Under Greenland's Ice? 246

Posted by Zonk
from the in-his-house-at-r'lyeh-dead-cthulhu-waits-dreaming dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Ice has covered Greenland for millions of years. So what's hidden under this ice cap? Mountains and valleys? Rivers and lakes? Of course, we might know it sooner than we would have liked if the ice covering Greenland continues to melt. But researchers from Ohio State University have decided that they wanted to know it next year and have developed a radar to reveal views of land beneath polar ice. Their first tests of this new radar, which helps them to catch 3-D images of the ground under the ice, took place in May 2006. The next images will be shot in April 2007. Here are some images of the new GISMO device and what it can do."
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What's Hidden Under Greenland's Ice?

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  • Aliens! (Score:3, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:33PM (#17405130) Homepage Journal
    Lots of nasty body popping evil dog maiming spider infesting damned aliens.

    Would you close the damned door so they don't get in.
    • Maybe.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      We should leave the aliens alone. Finding out what's in Greenland is surely far more important than pissing money into space to find out what's under Jupiter's/Mars's/etc surface.
    • Would you close the damned door so they don't get in.

      That should work, worked for M. Night.

    • Just a Guess.. but maybe there is.. uh... green land under Greenlands ice caps?

      Is that too easy?
      • Re:Just a guess.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by jc42 (318812) on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:48PM (#17405972) Homepage Journal
        Just a Guess.. but maybe there is.. uh... green land under Greenlands ice caps?

        Heh. Actually, we've known for a few decades that most of the interior is below sea level. Greenland is a big, backwards "C", with a ring of mountains around the edges and lower land inside. But when the ice melts, the land will slowly start rising, as has happened in Scandinavia, and there might be some dry land there in a couple thousand years.

        And you should look up the history of the name "Greenland". It's a good example of what can be done with a dishonest marketing campaign. The Vikings that fell for it and settled there ended up all dying some time later, leaving behind only a few interesting archaeological sites. The smarter ones settled further south, despite the name "Iceland", so their descendants are still alive today.

        This study will be interesting because it will give us details of the terrain under the ice. What we have now is the general contours showing that Greenland is a large bowl.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          We know that Greenland was actually "greener" when the Vikings settled it. The climate was warmer overall across the globe. It was not until the little ice age that Greenland became more like we tend to think of it and that settlement you speak of was lost.
  • by andy314159pi (787550) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:34PM (#17405138) Journal
    Jimmy Hoffa.
  • by frieza79 (947618) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:34PM (#17405140)
    Lambeau Field
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:36PM (#17405156)
    If it's oil, Greenland better brace for the invasion.
    • by rbanffy (584143) on Friday December 29, 2006 @10:58PM (#17405656) Homepage Journal
      It's a well known fact Greenland is not only harboring terrorists under the ice cap, but also developing nuclear weapons and other means of mass-destructions. They are also suspect of being major factors in the climate change.

      They must be invaded so the threat can be neutralized.
      • As an American, I know that is totally not true, but Greenland has been giving me some dirty looks lately so just to be on the safe side we should invade it.
      • by ElephanTS (624421)
        No, the only reason to invade and kill hundreds of thousands of people is to spread freedom and democracy. There is no better cause.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by slughead (592713)
      Underneath sovereign territory ... If it's oil, Greenland better brace for the invasion.

      Currently modded "insightful"

      Does that mean that insightful is the label we give to 'lame jokes' now?

      Well.. not interesting, not underrated, and not funny, I guess there's not much left.
    • People taste Greenland beer in Copenhagen. The new beer is said to taste cleaner and smoother. A brewery in Greenland is producing beer using water melted from the ice cap of the vast Arctic island. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5234194.stm [bbc.co.uk]
    • by Carewolf (581105)
      Of course. This possibility is already discussed, and Greenland wants to declare independence if they find oil and keep the profits for themselves. Denmark having sponsored Greenland, and kept the country out of deep poverty for a century, wants to keep Greenland as part of the danish common wealth and take a small share of possible the oil profit.

      Besides Greenland makes it possible to do some more interesting foreign politics (see Hans Island).
  • by MacDork (560499)
    Now if only the ice were getting thinner in Greenland, we'd have something to worry about. Unfortunately for you global warming scaremongers, that isn't the case. It seems the ice has been getting thicker in Greenland [sciencemag.org] over the past decade or so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by omicronish (750174)

      Now if only the ice were getting thinner in Greenland, we'd have something to worry about. Unfortunately for you global warming scaremongers, that isn't the case. It seems the ice has been getting thicker in Greenland [sciencemag.org] over the past decade or so.

      Your link mentions a thickness increase in the interior only; there's a decrease on the margins. NASA says [nasa.gov]:

      Greenland's low coastal regions lost 155 gigatons (41 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2003 and 2005 from excess melting and icebergs, while the high-elev

    • Yes. That explains why the Baltic sea hasn't frozen yet this year, they shipped all the ice to Greenland :)
    • Oh my god ....

      No idae where you get your source from or whre the source gets their data from .. greenland ice area has gone away over 30% last 15 years alone ...

      Who the fuck cares if the rest is getting "thicker" ? Just loock on google maps or google for greenland ice retreat ..

      angel'o'sphere
    • by RodgerDodger (575834) on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:11PM (#17405742)
      Sorry, but this was predicted by the models.

      What happens is that warming causes ice near the edges to melt. This dumps cold freshwater into the water nearby, disrupting warmer ocean currents. It also increases humidity. Due to the disrupted ocean currents, the prevailing winds go inland, taking the humid air with it. This gets dumped as snow in the middle, causing the central ice dome to increase. A similar effect occurs in Antartica, where the central ice dome is about 4ks thick.

      As shown in the link you provided, _below_ 1500m, the average change was a shrinking of 2cm (+- 0.9cm). Yes, the overall effect was to increase the thickness of the ice dome, but the dome is definitely getting more pronounced.

      What the models predict next, however, is that as the slope of the dome gets more steeper, it gets unstable. You then get large stress fractures occurring, and huge slabs - say, about the size of New York State - break off and slide down to the ocean. Fun stuff.

      Also, there's ice and there's ice. Old ice is very dense - it's been compressed over thousands or even millions of years, and contains more water by volume than the newer ice being laid down above. The main contributor to this is that the new ice has a lot of gas dissolved into it, or caught in bubbles. What this means is you can melt a million cubic meters of old glacial ice to get a bit less than a million cubic meters of water. However, the same volume of water (a bit less than a million cubic meters) falls as about 3 million cubic meters of snow inland, which gets packed down to about 1.5 million cubic meters of new ice. So, yes, the _volume_ of ice over Greenland is increasing, but the quantity of water in that ice is decreasing.

      Here's an paper from the same March 2006 issue of Science [sciencemag.org] that describes the process.
      • by strider44 (650833)
        That's ridiculous. It's global warming, not parts of the globe warming. Global warming of 2 degrees obviously means that if it's 30 degrees outside it would have been 28 degrees if global warming hadn't happened. There being thicker ice in any part of the world (even my freezer) means that global warming is totally false. And they say that climatology is hard.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by RodgerDodger (575834)
          *sigh* Global warming is not quite that simple, and frankly you're either an idiot or a troll.

          What global warming means is that there is more energy in the weather systems of the world. That energy gets expressed as more _extreme_ temperature. The snow storms in Denver [nytimes.com] at the moment are just as much a symptom of global warming as the heat waves in Europe were in summer.

          The weather is a vast engine that pumps heat energy around the globe. Global warming will result in this engine becoming unstable. One aspec
      • by ultranova (717540)

        You then get large stress fractures occurring, and huge slabs - say, about the size of New York State - break off and slide down to the ocean.

        Any chance of these slides causing tsunamis in Atlantic ?

        • Any chance of these slides causing tsunamis in Atlantic ?

          Some, but not much... mostly, these will break off inland, so they won't drop. The slides themselves will be fairly gentle... more of a drift than a rush. You'd only get a tsunami if a large area was undercut and snapped off. Even so, this wouldn't be big enough to do much damage except maybe to Iceland.

          A number of similar slabs have broken off from Antarctica, and there's been no tsunami as a result.

    • by rapett0 (92674)
      I could be completely off base here, but I read a while back the reason is because previously it was too cold to snow as much as before. However, since now thanks to "global warming", it is snowing more, but still below the freezing point and hence more ice. Again, I could be wrong here, but sounded like a good explanation to me for this phenomenom.
    • Yes, there is more ice in the interior of Greenland. The amount of ice in the interior of Greenland depends on the amount of precipitation, not the temperature. That is, warmer temperatures don't reduce the amount of ice in the interior of Greenland as long as the temperatures stay below the melting point. But warmer temperatures increase the amount of moisture in the air and therefore the amount of precipitation in the interior, and that leads to more ice there.

      By comparison, some of the strongest snowf
    • Prepare to be censored by global warming propagandaists who will mod you down for the crime of not following the holy word of politician Al Gore. Remember, environmentalists want you to feel guilty and ashamed for even existing on this planet. Facts don't count; it's all about what you feel is true. Ever notice how the media now asks people how they "feel" about something rather than what they "think?" It's part of our emotion-over-reason society of today, caused mostly by a predominantly liberal media
  • by SaDan (81097) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:39PM (#17405178) Homepage
    I do not want to hear about global warming as the cause of all the melting ice in Greenland if we're going over there and effectively microwaving the place to get pretty pictures of what's underneath.
  • Ehm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    shouldn't any mountain ranges be pretty well worn down by now? Scandinavia doesn't have any huge mountains due to the ice ages, so I'd imagine that the same goes for Greenland.
    • Depends how much the ice has moved. Glacial movements wear down mountains; Scandinavia doesn't have much in the way of mountains because glaciers have grown and shrunk back and forth over it a lot.

      Glaciers have covered Greenland for a long time. Sheer pressure of weight won't wear down mountains at all.

      Look at Antarctica - it's got several mountain ranges of decent size (3k+ - going up to 4897m at Mt Vinson - that's higher than any mountain in the Alps or the Rockies)
  • by Jon Luckey (7563) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:50PM (#17405246)
    This: [gutenberg.net.au]

    The effect was that of a Cyclopean city of no architecture known to man or to human imagination, with vast aggregations of night-black masonry embodying monstrous perversions of geometrical laws. There were truncated cones, sometimes terraced or fluted, surmounted by tall cylindrical shafts here and there bulbously enlarged and often capped with tiers of thinnish scalloped disks; and strange beetling, table-like constructions suggesting piles of multitudinous rectangular slabs or circular plates or five-pointed stars with each one overlapping the one beneath. There were composite cones and pyramids either alone or surmounting cylinders or cubes or flatter truncated cones and pyramids, and occasional needle-like spires in curious clusters of five. All of these febrile structures seemed knit together by tubular bridges crossing from one to the other at various dizzy heights, and the implied scale of the whole was terrifying and oppressive in its sheer gigantism. The general type of mirage was not unlike some of the wilder forms observed and drawn by the arctic whaler Scoresby in 1820, but at this time and place, with those dark, unknown mountain peaks soaring stupendously ahead, that anomalous elder-world discovery in our minds, and the pall of probable disaster enveloping the greater part of our expedition, we all seemed to find in it a taint of latent malignity and infinitely evil portent.


    Likely? No... but if it happened it might make certian people reconsider that greenhouse gas/climate change tradeoff issue. :)
  • by Aladrin (926209)
    Wasn't there a book about this?

    http://www.amazon.com/Deception-Point-Dan-Brown/dp /0671027387 [amazon.com]

    Oh wait, that was the North Pole. My bad!
  • Real Estate. I thought Greenland was owned by Denmark, but apparently it's autonomous now. AFAIK, nobody has surveyed the land, and even if the ice melted today it would probably be a nasty unstable place for a while, but you know some Lex Luthor type has to be smacking his lips at the prospect of an ice sheet collapse and a temperate polar climate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Waffle Iron (339739)
      ...And judging from the Mercator projection map that I had on my wall as a kid, it's LOTS of real estate. It looks like more than the entire continental USA, maybe more than all of South America. Probably it's even much bigger than that, but it's hard to tell because they cut the top off Greenland at the edge of the map. It looks like probably goes on and on as you go farther north, though. This global warming thing could be a huge boon to land developers!
  • by I Like Pudding (323363) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:53PM (#17405276)
    It's Waldo. Obviously.
  • I say it triples in volume and gets salty.
  • to start building condos? With Florida and most of the current coastal land under water there's going to be a big demand for new coastal land. Personally I think it's all a scam and Trump is behind the survey and they are really dividing the island into lots. Just watch, there'll be prime lots for sale on Ebay any day now. They're starting to run out of desert and swamp land to sell so Greenland would be a perfect spot for retirement property for Gen Xers.
  • Lots and lots of penguins!
  • by nxtr (813179) on Friday December 29, 2006 @10:08PM (#17405374)
    The article makes Greenland seem like a woman and the ice seem like a bra. So far, I can most certainly tell you that whatever is under the ice are not bags of sand.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jcwayne (995747)
      Q: How many geeks does it take to get a woman's bra off?
      A: 8, but they will only remove it in 1% strips and take 9 months to process the visuals.
  • by viking80 (697716) on Friday December 29, 2006 @10:18PM (#17405444) Journal
    I would like to just suggest a link to Roland Piquepailles blog somewhere where those who are interested can click. And *no more articles please*

    I read /. to get real news and facts, and see discussions from people with insight.
    Roland Piquepailles submissions has not met this criterium. Did this article tell you what lies under greenlands ice?

    You should mod this up if you agree or mod away as flamebait/offtopic/troll if you dont agree, but at least mod it.
    • Make it so they can be disabled on the "Customize Stories on the Homepage" part of the user prefs. Seriously, how many Piquepaille blogspams are there compared to Apache stories? Personally, I'd leave them on, but the icon or whatever would be a warning - even though there's usually no substance to the "story", sometimes there are worthwhile posts within the comments. Hopefully, this would also improve said comments, since complaints about these blog posts would no longer be justified.
    • I have no problem with the fact that Roland Piquepaille makes money while posting articles to slashdot, and frankly he often links to interesting stories. The problem is that he doesn't write good summaries. He always seems to miss a small detail that later proves to be the point of the whole story. We all have to browse through the comments to find a reader that can explain the missing pieces. Todays story was pretty good though.
    • Dirt.

      There. My informativity quotient has exceeded our noble blogger. And for a more entertaining notion: I wonder if someone could get charged for criminal acts against humanity if they ran around Greenland with space heaters and tried to claim some cheap real estate before the boom?

      People are already jockeying for position on Antarctica and the soon to be available northern shipping routes. Don't just be a victim of global warming. Be a profitable victim!

    • I'm sure I've seen a Firefox Extension or Greasemonkey script that filters Roland's stories from the front page.

      If there isn't one, and I've dreamed the whole thing, then it should only take 10 minutes to write one.
  • by rlp (11898)
    Frozen Vikings and cattle standing under frozen palm trees.
  • an ancient 66 square-kilometer ice shelf, the size of 11,000 football fields
  • It's probably... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Panaqqa (927615) * on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:19PM (#17405788) Homepage
    a lot like the terrain on Baffin Island, another arctic island which underwent intense glaciation in the last ice age - and emerged from it due to slightly milder climate. This picture [umass.edu] of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island is likely quite representative of what would be under Greenland's ice. Minus, of course, the moss/lichen/pioneer plants.
  • Nice acronym.
  • by NullProg (70833) on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:34PM (#17405896) Homepage Journal
    Under the ice sheet there are, wait for it... Trees

    http://www.athropolis.com/arctic-facts/fact-ice-co re.htm [athropolis.com]
    This planet was once warm in the past. It is warming up again despite our human influence.
    FYI, the planet is going to get cold again when it adjusts.

    Enjoy,
  • Alien starship.
  • I kid you not.
  • wikipedia:

    Vatnajökull

    It's 8 percent of the country preserved since the ice age.

    The average thickness of the ice is 400 m, with a maximum thickness of 1000 m.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb /Iceland_sat_cleaned.png [wikimedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Northern_iceshe et_hg.png [wikipedia.org]

    Under the glacier, as under many of the glaciers of Iceland, there are several volcanoes. The volcanic lakes, Grímsvötn for example, were the sources of a large glacier run in 1996. The volcano under these
  • the first thing that came to mind after reading that headline was...

    "Your mom".
  • ...the face of Elvis.

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