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Students and Faculty Study Water Trapped in Greenland for NASA

Setting Up Camp

After 10 days of weather delays at the end of March and beginning of April, a team from the University of Utah and NASA were able to investigate the physical properties of a firn aquifer in southeast Greenland. Following up on their first expedition to the region in 2013, U geography doctoral student, Clément Miège, and research associate for University Space Research Association at NASA Goddard Space Flight, Ludovic Brucker, under the direction of U geography professor Rick Forster, the team was able to install an intelligent weather station and collected more than 17 miles of high-frequency radar data.

The Greenland firn aquifer was discovered accidentally in the spring of 2011 while a team of glaciologists led by Forster were sampling regions of high snow accumulation. A firn aquifer is a reservoir of perennial water (doesn’t freeze in the winter) that is trapped within the compacted snow layer.

Read more about both the 2014 and 2013 Greenland firn aquifer expeditions in their blog. Also read the story of the findings from their first expedition put out by NASA.

University of Utah Researchers in Greenland

From left to right: Clément Miège, Ludovic Brucker, and Rick Forster happy to be finally boarding the helicopter for the flight to the ice sheet. (Credit: Rick Forster.)

Aerial Greenland's Aquifer Firn

An outlet glacier draining the Greenland ice sheet into an ice covered fjord. The individual rough blocks of ice within the smooth surface of the frozen fjord are icebergs that calved off the glacier last summer and are now trapped in the winter fjord ice. (Credit: Rick Forster.)