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Mystery of glacial lake floods solved

Mystery of glacial lake floods solved
The hot water drill used to drill through the glacier to the subglacial lakes. The drill stem is hundreds of meters below in the ice, suspended on a rubber hose through which hot water is pumped down. Credit: Eric Gaidos

A long-standing mystery in the study of glaciers was recently —- and serendipitously—solved by a team led by University of Hawai’i at Mānoa astrobiologist and earth scientist Eric Gaidos. Their findings were published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


The mystery involves floods or “jokulhlaups” that emerge suddenly and unpredictably from glaciers or ice caps like those in Iceland where volcanic heat melts the ice and water accumulates in lakes underneath the glaciers. Scientists have long studied the development of these floods, which are some of the largest on Earth.

“These floods may affect the motion of some glaciers and are a significant hazard in Iceland,” said

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