Geothermal heat flux can foment upper mantle temperature anomalies of 800–1000 °C, and these extreme heat intensities have been found to stretch across 500 km of central-east Greenland. This could result in “a significant contribution of ice melt to the ice-drainage system of Greenland” (Artemieva et al., 2019).
Evidence of more than 100,000 formerly or currently active volcanic vents permeate the Earth’s sea floor (Kelley, 2017).
Active volcanoes spew 380°C sulfuric acid and “metal-laden acidic fluids” into the bottom waters of the world ocean on a daily basis. In other words, literal ocean acidification is a natural phenomenon.
The carbon dioxide concentrations present in these acidic floods reach “astounding” levels, dwarfing the potential for us to even begin to appreciate the impact this explosive geothermal activity has on the Earth’s carbon cycle (Kelley, 2017).
Image Source: Kelley, 2017
Geothermal heat “explains the observed melting of the ice sheet’s base”
Just as impacts of sea floor volcanism may be largely unheralded, the ice-melt significance of high geothermal heat flux beneath the polar ice caps may still be in the early stages of exploration.
The geothermal heat contribution to the basal melt rates of Antarctic glaciers is substantial.
Image Source: Loose et al., 2018, Shroeder et al., 2014
Significant melting at the base of the north-central and northeastern Greenland ice sheet occurs in close proximity to high geothermal heat flux regions, and “several thousands” of 55-62°C hot springs have been identified “all over Greenland.”
Image Source: Rogozhina et al., 2016, Rysgaard et al., 2018
High geothermal heat flux has “dramatic consequences” for ice basal melting in central-eastern Greenland
In a new paper, Dr. Irina Atemieva employs a new method to assess the accelerated basal melting occurring across wide swaths (extending 500 kilometers inland) of the Greenland ice sheet associated with high geothermal heat flux.
“Huge” near-surface temperature anomalies reaching amplitudes of 800–1000 °C have been spotted.
Geothermal heat flux is suggested to be “an important contributor to the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream in Central Greenland.”