science

Greenland melts the ice sheet and creates the largest dam in the world: “more hydroelectric power than the 10 largest power plants on the planet combined”

L ‘water soluble Caused by the melting of ice in the polar caps green land up to bed icy They tend to heat up due to friction within the water itself. L ‘produced energy From the huge amounts of melt water makes it thus green land The largest dam in the world. A study published in the journal reached this strange conclusion Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesIt was conducted by scientists from the University of Cambridge, the University of Aberystwyth, the University of California Santa Cruz and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. The research team It is part of the European project transponderThe authors assessed the reservoirs generated from meltwater falling from Surface At the base of the glacier.

When the ice melts, the authors explain, thegravitational energy It is converted into heat, following a process similar to that used in Facilities hydroelectricity And in dams. The bottom of the glacier is located about one kilometer less than Surfaceand evaluating the dynamics associated with these phenomena is not easy, especially in green land, where the volumes of ice are really gigantic. understand this MechanismsHowever, it is very important and allows us to develop more accurate predictive models about the future behavior of sigh icy. Experts say the presence of melt water has a strong impact on the movement of glaciers and the amount of ice they reach. oceans. The research team found that the gravitational energy of water melting Which forms on the surface turns into heat when the water reaches the base through it Big cracks in the ice. In fact, every summer they form in the area basins and currents of meltwater, much of which drains rapidly to the bottom of the ice sheet, and trickles down through large cracks and fractures.

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team led by Pee Christophersenstudied the formation of these meltwater lakes, and explored how and why they drain so quickly and the effect on them behavior general ice cover. The researchers watched that glacier store For seven years, using specific instruments to measure basic melting rates, some of which have previously been used in plates ice South Pole. “By studying the melting of the ice caps – says Kristofferson – we observe heat sources such as friction,geothermal energy, latent heat released upon freezing and heat loss in covered ice. But we never count heat was born of the melt water itself. There is a lot of gravitational energy stored in water that forms at the surface. We have discovered that this energy becomes heat.”

Compared to Antarctica – he notes Toon Gan Youngwho installed the radar system at Store Glacier – in Greenland the ice deforms very quickly, and in the summer a lot of water melts. ” worlds It calculated that during the summer of 2014, up to 82 million cubic meters of meltwater reached the bottom of the Store Glacier per day, generating volumes of Similar energy For those produced by the dam Three Gorges In China, the largest hydropower plant on the planet. With a blending area that expands to approximately million kilometers square at the height of summer, so the Greenland ice sheet produces more hydroelectric power than Ten hydroelectric power stations The largest in the world together.” Scientists found that the water at the base of the glacier was about +0.88 ° C, which is a rather high value relative to the base of the glacier. sigh, where the melting point is about -0.40 °C. “for us Notes – Christoffersen reports – confirms that melt water is heated at the base icy. The reason is the system Drainage border, which is less efficient than fractures and channels that carry water through ice. These features lead to a Heating by friction within the water itself.” “This study – concludes Christophersen – provides the first concrete evidence of a mechanism Ice sheet mass loss has not been considered by models Height global sea level”.

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by Valentina Di Paula

Phil Schwartz

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