Published: June 2010

Melt Zone

melt zone

True Colors

There's a meltdown on the ice sheet—and optimism among Greenlanders.

By Mark Jenkins
Photograph by James Balog

At first glance Greenland is an expanse of blinding white. But as my chopper swings low over the island, color catches my eye. For miles on end, bands of blue meltwater fringe the ice sheet. Fields of white are threaded with riv­ers, etched with crevasses, and blotched with lakes. There is also ice that appears neither white nor blue but rather brown and even black—darkened by a substance called cryoconite. This muddy-looking grit is a key topic of investigation for my four companions: photogr­apher James Balog with his assistant, Adam LeWinter, and geophysicist Marco Tedesco with Ph.D. stu­dent Nick Steiner, both from the City College of New York.

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