Greenland Ice Sheet Research Asks How Glaciers Move And Affect Sea Level Rise : Short Wave There's always a moment of intense isolation when Jessica Mejía gets dropped off on the Greenland ice sheet for a multi-week research stint. "You know you're very much alone," said Jessica, a postdoctoral researcher in glaciology at the University of Buffalo. Glaciers such as those that cover Greenland are melting due to climate change, causing sea levels to rise. That we know. But these glaciers are also moving. What we don't know is just how these two processes – melting and movement – interact and ultimately impact how quickly sea levels will rise. Jessica joins Short Wave's Aaron Scott to explain what it's like to live on a glacier for a month, and what her research could mean for coastal communities all over the world.

How Glaciers Move

How Glaciers Move

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Animated GIF from a video showing the flow of meltwater in a glacier

Notes

Meltwater from the surface of Sermeq Avannarleq glacier in western Greenland flows in a glacial river.

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There's always a moment of intense isolation when Jessica Mejía gets dropped off on the Greenland ice sheet for a multi-week research stint.

"You know you're very much alone," said Jessica, a postdoctoral researcher in glaciology at the University of Buffalo. "You just hear kind of the wind, or if the wind dies down, it's silent."

Glaciers such as those that cover Greenland are melting due to climate change, causing sea levels to rise. That we know. But these glaciers, massive and motionless as they seem, are also moving. What we don't know is just how these two processes – melting and movement – interact and ultimately impact how quickly sea levels will rise.

Jessica joins Short Wave's Aaron Scott to explain what it's like to live on a glacier for a month, and what her research could mean for coastal communities all over the world.

Researchers camp out on the Greenland ice sheet beneath the Aurora Borealis. Jessica Mejia/Jessica Mejia hide caption

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Jessica Mejia/Jessica Mejia

Researchers camp out on the Greenland ice sheet beneath the Aurora Borealis.

Jessica Mejia/Jessica Mejia

This episode was produced by Berly McCoy, edited by Gisele Grayson and Gabriel Spitzer, and fact-checked by Brit Hanson. The audio engineer was Josh Newell.

Correction Jan. 11, 2023

The original version of this caption misidentified the location as the Helheim glacier. It is the Sermeq Avannarleq glacier.