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Supraglacial channel

Russell Glacier, Greenland


Each ridge on the channel sides represents about a days worth of melt from the water flow. For scale, the channel is about 8-10 m deep here. Upstream lies a huge lake ~3km^2 in a depression on the ice-sheet surface. As the stream keeps eroding down, it would eventually cause the lake to drain rapidly within a matter of hours. The stream eventually flows to a huge moulin, where it then likely reaches the bed of the ice sheet, ~1000 m below.


Lake-drainage events like these are common, and are currently being studied by scientists at Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities.


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Taken on August 5, 2010