Greenland Ice Sheet: Indian-origin scientist to lead drilling project to understand ice sheet bedrock

Through this drilling, the researchers hope to reach the bedrock of the sheet, hoping to unearth the past of the ice sheet in detail.

The project is scheduled to last for five years
The project is scheduled to last for five years. (Image: Jason Briner, University of Buffalo)

Greenland ice sheet melting: An Indian-origin scientist is all set to lead the project on Greenland Ice Sheet! The rapidly melting Greenland Ice Sheet due to climate change has left the scientists worried, since the sheet has enough ice to increase the water levels by nearly 24 feet. Even a few feet of rise in the water levels is enough to threaten the cities and regions lying on coastal areas. To understand the formation and past of the ice sheet in depth, researchers from Pennsylvania State University, University at Buffalo, University of Massachusetts and Columbia University have come up with a new project to drill through the ice.

Through this drilling, the researchers hope to reach the bedrock of the sheet, hoping to unearth the past of the ice sheet in detail and also find a way to accurately predict how it would add to the rising level of the seas in today’s time.

The project, called the Greendrill, would be led by the researchers of the Pennsylvania State University, according to separate statements issued by Pennsylvania State University and Columbia University, with Indian-origin Professor of Geosciences at the university Sridhar Anandakrishnan being a key primary investigator. The University statement quoted Anandakrishnan as saying that the students and researchers would be conducting geophysical investigations like seismic and radar ones, in order to determine the properties of ice and rock in Greenland Ice Sheet. With the help of these investigations, the locations of the drill and the samples would be guided.

The project is scheduled to last for five years, and it has received a grant of $3 million and a support of $4 million in field operations from the National Science Foundation. The researchers hope to zero in on the exact extent, timing as well as frequency of the periods of time in the past when the Ice Sheet was either much smaller or was completely gone, the university statement said.

The project would be co-led by Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory geochemist Joerg Schaefer. The Columbia statement quoted Schaefer as saying that with this project, researchers would be entering an Earth zone that has not yet been systematically studied. Schaefer added that the researchers would be recovering samples from the basal ice and sub-ice bedrock, which can be compared to the Moon rocks on the basis of their preciousness and their rareness. These samples would tell scientists directly about the past of the Ice Sheet, and as a result they would be able to better understand the modern as well as future stability of the ice sheet.

Before this, the last major ice-drilling effort made by the US was the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 and it ceased in the mid-1990s.

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