Lake BlueSnow

There are lots of lakes in Greenland — a growing number these days as temperatures there continue to rise and the ice sheet melts. Scientists researching the lakes have to name them so everyone involved in a project knows which lake they’re talking about. Not surprisingly, they tend to acquire boring, unimaginative names, like Lake 1 and Lake 2.  Or Lake 74MS15, on Canada’s Banks Island. 

Enter five-and-a-half-year-old Olivia Tedesco, whose father, Marco Tedesco, studies these meltwater lakes. She nicknamed a lake her dad had visited “Lake BlueSnow” for reasons obvious to anyone looking at a picture of the azure pool. The scientists had been calling it “Lake at Summit.” But when a PFS staff member asked Tedesco for a new name so that the lake wasn’t confused with the station called Summit, he deferred to his daughter’s good judgment, and the body of water was officially christened Lake BlueSnow this month, just in time for Father’s Day.

Tedesco, whose NSF- and NASA-funded research studying the melting trends of these Greenland lakes was featured in a National Geographic cover story this month, is an assistant professor at the City College of New York. He visited Olivia’s kindergarten class on Earth Day to talk about his work. He brought along pictures of lakes and crevasses, time-lapse video of the midnight sun, and crampons, ice axes and climbing gear so the kids could dangle in a harness like true glacial investigators.

“They asked me, among other things, if the water from the lakes can go through the ice and if there is water under the ice,” says Tedesco, who was impressed since these are the very questions he and his fellow Greenland scientists are exploring. “These are ‘hot’ questions in our scientific community. I hope I will be able to enroll some of them in our Ph.D. program.”

If current trends continue and more and more lakes appear on top of the ice sheet, Olivia’s 18-month-old sister, Francesca, may get a shot at naming her own lake in a few years.--Emily Stone