A new study of glacial rivers in Greenland has important implications for how scientists might model future ice melts in the region and subsequent sea level rise.

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Laurence Smith, study coauthor and Brown University environmental studies professor, told Earther, “These findings will help to refine ice sliding models, which are critically important for predicting future ice sheet contributions to global sea level rise.”

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Smith says, “In 2015 when we started this study, there was surprisingly little attention paid to the hydrology of streams and rivers on the ice sheet, especially inland away from the ice edge, and we felt that this was a critical scientific gap. These findings affirm the importance of supraglacial rivers to subglacial water pressure and ice dynamics, even in relatively thick ice,” the researchers wrote.

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