Beneath Greenland's ice, a grand canyon - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Beneath Greenland's ice, a grand canyon

Posted: Updated:
  • CBS19.tv Web ExclusivesMore>>

  • Web Exclusive: Ultra HD TVs

    Web Exclusive: Ultra HD TVs

    (CNN) -Some people just have to have the latest in television technology. The newest TVs on the market- ultra-high definition TVs- or UHD TVs. They have higher screen resolution than current high def screens, and are also known as "4-K" sets. "More >>
    (CNN) -Some people just have to have the latest in television technology. The newest TVs on the market- ultra-high definition TVs- or UHD TVs. They have higher screen resolution than current high def screens, and are also known as "4-K" sets. "More >>
  • Web Exclusive: A product to help keep sharks away on sale

    Web Exclusive: A product to help keep sharks away on sale

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:40 AM EDT2014-07-28 13:40:46 GMT
    If you're headed on a beach vacation, there's a product you may be interested in to help keep sharks away.  The device is called a Shark Shield.  It is now being sold in Florida.More >>
    If you're headed on a beach vacation, there's a product you may be interested in to help keep sharks away.  The device is called a Shark Shield.  It is now being sold in Florida.More >>
  • Web Exclusive: Back to School costs really add up

    Web Exclusive: Back to School costs really add up

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:14 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:14:59 GMT
    Before you know it, fall will be here and it will be time to go back to school.  For parents that means stocking up on notebooks, number two pencils, and back to school clothes, all of which usually take a big chunk out of a family's budget.  So, just how much do parents will pay to send their kids off to school this year?More >>
    Before you know it, fall will be here and it will be time to go back to school.  For parents that means stocking up on notebooks, number two pencils, and back to school clothes, all of which usually take a big chunk out of a family's budget.  So, just how much do parents will pay to send their kids off to school this year?More >>

(CNN) -- British and American scientists watching Greenland's massive ice sheet have found what appears to be a 460-mile "megacanyon" far beneath the frozen surface of the world's largest island.

Airborne radar images taken by the U.S. space agency NASA and compiled by scientists at the University of Bristol revealed the canyon's existence, Bristol glaciologist Jonathan Bamber said Thursday. It's buried under the layer of ice that blankets Greenland, a covering up to 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) thick.

The gouge is more than half again as long as Arizona's 277-mile Grand Canyon, but not as deep -- ranging from 650 feet to about 2,600 feet (200 to 800 meters), Bamber said. It runs from the middle of Greenland to its northern shore, on the Arctic Ocean, and it's likely to have been covered over by ice for 4 million years.

"It's a continuous canyon. It's pretty deep. It very much looks like it predates the ice sheets," Bamber said. "We think it's indicative of a river system that was here before the ice sheet was there, and which perhaps was modified by the ice sheet cover some, but not much."

Greenland adapts to climate changeGreenland adapts to climate change

The discovery is a byproduct of the intense scientific focus on Greenland amid concerns about rising global temperatures. The radar images were shot by NASA's Operation IceBridge, which flies aircraft over the island because the ice sheet is too thick for satellite-based radar to penetrate, said Michael Studinger, the project's lead scientist.

Bamber and colleagues from Bristol, the University of Calgary in Canada and Urbino University in Italy published their findings Thursday in the journal Science. They were trying to compile an updated set of ice-sheet records when they noticed "this long linear feature that seemed to be pretty continuous," Bamber said.

"It looks like it was a pretty extensive river system millions of years ago," he said.

The find isn't a "first-order concern" for scientists studying climate change but will help researchers understand how the ice ebbs and flows across the face of Greenland and other polar environments, Bamber said.

The main reason Greenland is under study is to record the height of the ice above it, not to map the land beneath, Studinger said. The existence of the canyon is "basically a tiny piece in the big puzzle of what's going on in Greenland," but still an exciting find, he said.

"We live in the 21st century, and we are still discovering 750-kilometer features under the Greenland ice sheet that we didn't know about," he said.

Powered by WorldNow

CBS19, MYTX & KCEB
2211 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone (903) 581-2211
Fax (903) 581-5769

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KYTX. All Rights Reserved. Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights, and Ad Choices.