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Numerous Studies Confirm Geothermal Heat Melting Greenland Ice Sheet

Written by James Edward Kamis

Figure 1.) Illustration of ice melting and subglacial lake forming and anomalously high bedrock geothermal heat flow (light red shading) located beneath Greenland’s Ice Sheet (Image credit: the University of Lancaster and University of Sheffield, red labels by J. Kamis)

Yet another major research study, five if you’re counting, has concluded that accelerated melting at the base of Greenland’s glacial ice sheet is from anomalously high geothermal heat.

High heat flow, according to the combined areas of the four previous studies (NASAAarhus UniversityUniversity of KansasUniversity of Maryland), is present beneath 50% of the world’s second-largest ice sheet as shown in Figure 2 (cross-hatched red).

Also of interest in Figure 2 are outlines of above-sea-level high-bedrock heat-flow areas bordering Greenland, specifically the Svalbard Islands Hotspot (red hatched) and the Iceland Mantle Plume (red hatched), which are both fueled by hot molten lava and heat flow from the deep inner earth reaching the Mid-Arctic Spreading Center  (black hatched) fault system.

The reader is directed to previous Climate Change Dispatch articles that summarize the results of these four research studies and their impact on Arctic climate and climate-related events hereherehere, and here.

Now onto the discussion of the just-released research study by the University of Lancaster and University of Sheffield. Research that established for the very first time the existence of an estimated fifty-four subglacial lakes beneath Greenland’s vast glacial ice sheet.

Study researchers attributed the generation of these lakes to numerous factors, most notably geothermal high-bedrock heat flow that the authors term “enhanced geothermal heat flux.”

This study is of special interest because it provides detailed information that can be utilized to formulate a detailed explanation of exactly how bedrock heat flow generates Greenland’s subglacial lakes:

  • All the various types of subglacial lakes highlighted in Figure 1 are located in long, linear bedrock valleys. This geological configuration is indicative of valley generation by long, linear faults, some of which uplift long, linear hills and others which act to down drop long, linear valleys. This very common geological process acts to form long, linear water catchment basins worldwide.
  • It is here we argue that these long, linear fractured fault planes, especially the very active ones, tap downward into deep and thereby higher temperature geothermally heated rocks. This acts to provide a vertical conduit for this elevated heat area upward onto areas adjacent to the fault plane / overlying glacial ice interfaces. Heat flow that acts to bottom-melt glacial ice that supplies meltwater to fill four-way closed catchment basins.
  • The researchers so-called “isolated” subglacial lakes designation (Figure 1) is an admission that they could not establish a connection of subglacial lakes to overlying glacial ice surface meltwater. It is here hypothesized that this so-called isolation is an indication of areas where the fault induced heat flow has not yet punched upward to the glacial ice / atmospheric interface. Non-isolated long linear subglacial lakes with a connection to the glacial ice / atmospheric interface are areas where the fault induced heat flow aided by fault induced fracturing of the overlying ice has punched through to the glacial ice / atmospheric interface.
  • Further proof of fault involvement in subglacial lake development is demonstrated on the researchers’ Figure 3, which illustrates the long linear straight alignment of multiple subglacial lakes (red line) which perfectly match known fault trends (red line) in this area.

In summary, it’s way past time for the media, responsible scientific organizations, and political entities seeking the truth to step forward and inform the public of the significant, dominant role of Greenland’s extensive geothermal heat flow in melting glacial ice.

Silence by these entities is no longer a truthful option because it indirectly supports the notion that manmade atmospheric warming is the 100% proven cause.  It’s not.


James Edward Kamis is a retired professional Geologist with 42 years of experience, a B.S. in Geology from Northern Illinois University (1973), an M.S. in geology from Idaho State University (1977), and a longtime member of AAPG who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. More than 42 years of research/observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is an important driver of the Earth’s climate as detailed at his site Plate Climatology Theory.

Read more at climatechangedispatch.com

Comments (2)

  • Avatar

    jerry krause

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    Hi James,

    Thanks for the information. Another factor relative to the going and commings of glaciers is that by definition (I believe) glaciers are always moving to a lower elevation so if it rate of snowfall decreases the glacier resides because there is less ice uphill to push the ice sheet downhill. Seldom do I read any discussion how the glaciers (over the northern portions of North America, Europe, and Asia) formed in the first place.

    Have a good day, Jerry

  • Avatar

    jerry krause

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    Hi James,

    You concluded: “In summary, it’s way past time for the media, responsible scientific organizations, and political entities seeking the truth to step forward and inform the public of the significant, dominant role of Greenland’s extensive geothermal heat flow in melting glacial ice.”

    As you make this critical comment about others, I remind the readers that the Geological Community has a ‘sorry’ record of rejecting the idea of continental drift so its been little more than a half century that the cause of the mountain building has been recognized. Only when one recognizes this mountain building, does the magnitude of the ongoing geological activity become obvious. And the possible significant relationships between weather and climate this geological activity become apparent.

    Have a good day, Jerry

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