Meltwater pond nestled amid the rock-and-ice covered fringe of Greenland

In the image you can see a meltwater pond nestled amid the rock-and-ice covered fringe of Greenland. Most of the surface of Greenland is covered with fresh water—about 2.6 million cubic kilometers of it. Yet that water is frozen, locked up in ice and snow.   NASA Photograph by Jim Yungel, NASA Wallops Flight Facility

The photograph was taken around midday on May 7, 2012, as NASA’s P-3B airplane was flying over the island’s northeastern coast at 76.84 degrees north latitude and 22.07 degrees west longitude.

Unlike the classic melt ponds that form on the surface of the ice sheet, the pond in this image sits amidst the exposed brown-black hills near the coast. The water surface appears covered with a thin, mostly transparent layer of ice, and the water within is likely runoff from nearby melting snow and glacial ice. Scientists closely watch liquid water on Greenland because it is believed to lubricate the bases of glaciers, allowing them to move faster. Melting ice also dumps fresh water into the ocean and raises sea level. There is enough water trapped in Greenland’s ice sheet to raise global sea level by 6 meters (20 feet).

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