The mysterious “dark” river that runs in Greenland, why do they call it that?

Researchers from Hokkaido University analyze the famous river, which has a special characteristic that makes it different from others.

They call it a « dark » river because they do not know if it really exists or, if at least, it is as extensive as they presume. It is found in Greenland and scientists are trying to study it.

But why is it so difficult to do it and there are so many speculations about it?

The river – or presumed river – would be far below the surface of Greenland. According to scientists from the Hokkaido University, it would measure more than a thousand kilometers from the deep interior of the island to the Petermann glacier, to the northwest.

So far the area has been surveyed by satellite, but the river would be located under two or three kilometers of ice. Hence, the difficulty in knowing if it really exists.

The voice of the « dark » river researchers

Christopher Chambers and Ralf Greve are the Hokkaido University scientists studying the possibility. Their interest is to explore the area to learn about the dynamics of the water: at the moment they have carried out simulations.

« The results are consistent when you think about a long subglacial river, » Chambers said. « But considerable uncertainty persists. »

“We don’t know how much water, if any, is available to flow through the valley. And if, in fact, it comes out on the Petermann glacier or escapes elsewhere ”.

For Greve. « More additional satellite surveys are needed to confirm that the simulations are accurate. »

Chambers and Greve’s research work was published in The Cryosphere. It is called Possible Impacts of a Hypothetical Subglacial River Valley 1,000 kilometers long in Greenland.