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Rain delay

where are we?

Rain is a drag when it cancels something as exciting as a helicopter ride. Fog and clouds aren’t safe for flying, so the scientists’ plan today to fly over the lakes was put on hold until the sky clears. Instead, they dressed in wet weather gear and worked in the cold, wet wind on the final deconstruction and rebuilding of two instrument towers that will be left here for the next 12 months.

Over breakfast, Sarah Das talked by iridium phone to her graduate student, Maya Bhatia, working on the coast of Greenland. “Still no sign of the dye,” Sarah said when she hung up. Sarah is eager to see if the nine pounds of fluorescent powder she poured into the draining moulin yesterday has made it to the coast, allowing her to better “see” its path under the ice.

“I can’t poke my head under the ice, so we’re figuring out other ways to learn what happens there,” she said. If draining water flows out fast, she may conclude that the under-ice drainage system is like a system of large tunnels. If it flows slowly, she thinks the water could go through a system of smaller, interwoven capillaries.

Knowing about the flow’s pace will help her draw conclusions about how draining water helps—or doesn’t help—move the ice sheet out to sea. If the water moves fast, Sarah thinks it may have less opportunity to lubricate and thus accelerate the ice sheet’s base. However, a slower flow may allow more time for draining lake water to build up pressure under the ice, speeding the ice sheet’s flow out to sea.

Read on about our adventure in the slideshow below. Can't see the slideshow? Get the Flash plug in »


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