By Matthew D. Covington, Jason D. Gulley, David Ochel
Most of the meltwater on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet flows in rivers and streams that eventually end in moulins, which are giant holes in the ice that carry the water to the bottom of the glacier. Once meltwater is beneath the ice it can lubricate the bottom of the ice sheet, lift up the ice, and cause the ice to move faster. This may create a double effect, where future increases in melting of the ice during warmer climate may also cause faster sliding and more loss of ice into the sea. However, these processes are not well understood. During a 3‑year project, we have conducted two summer field expeditions, where we measured meltwater and water levels inside of moulins. In the last 2 years of the project, we also conducted two fall expeditions, where we directly explored inside of moulins using a mix of caving and ice climbing techniques. During the presentation, we will share photos, videos, and stories from our adventures on the ice sheet, focusing particularly on our most recent expedition in fall of 2019, and provide a basic explanation of our initial scientific results.