Video of the Week: Discovery of the Hiawatha Impact Crater

Researchers at the Centre for GeoGenetics and a NASA glaciologist, Joe MacGregor, have discovered an enormous crater buried beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northern Greenland. The crater’s c-shape and planar deformation of nearby quartz samples indicate that this crater was created by a massive meteor. Using ice-penetrating radar from NASA’s Operation IceBridge, researchers discovered the crater “hiding in plain sight.” It is the first impact crater found under ice.

The “Hiawatha Impact Crater” spans 19 miles wide and 1,000 feet deep, making it among the largest craters on our planet. Evidence suggests that this crater is geologically young, and the impact could’ve occurred as recently as the last Ice Age (some 12-115 thousand years ago). View this week’s Video of the Week below to learn more about the Hiawatha Impact Crater.

Discover more glacier news at GlacierHub:

Exception or Rule? The Case of Katla, One of Iceland’s Subglacial Volcanoes

Qoyllur Rit’i: Changing Tradition Due to Glacial Melt

Human Capital Investments for Glacier Countries

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Photo Friday: Island Glaciers of the Canadian Arctic

Outside of Greenland, a quarter of the Arctic’s ice lies in Canada, much of it covering the Queen Elizabeth Islands. A recent paper in Environmental Research Letters found that, during the decade between 2005 and 2015, surface melt from the ice caps and glaciers of the Queen Elizabeth Islands increased by a staggering 900 percent, from an annual average of 3 gigatons to 30 gigatons of water.

This vast input to the ocean renders the Canadian Arctic a major contributor to sea level rise. As the Arctic continues to warm, researchers expect the glacial melt to increase significantly in the next decades. While the glaciers of the Canadian Arctic remain, take a look at some striking NASA imagery of the glaciated Queen Elizabeth Islands.

A MODIS satellite image shows the icy Queen Elizabeth Islands and Baffin Island (Source: NASA).

 

Ellesmere Island has been inhabited since about 2000 B.C., and its current population is less than 200 (Source: NASA).

 

Retreating glaciers provide melt water to Ellesmere Island’s Oobloyah Valley during the summer. A willow and primrose species have been found in the moraine of the Arklio Glacier (Source: NASA).

 

About a third covered by a large ice cap, Devon is the largest uninhabited island in the world (Source: NASA).

 

A NASA Operation IceBridge flight captured a picture of Belcher Glacier, which flows from the Devon ice cap to the ocean (Source: NASA/Twitter).

 

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