Really oceans of water on Mars?

The news is reporting the discovery of a lot of water on Mars which is frozen below ground level (correct?). One report states that “So much ice has been found in the polar regions that if it were to melt it would deluge the planet.” (Cite) Other report state that the oceans could be very deep. (Sorry, no cite; heard it on the radio.)

The reports imply that if we were to melt all the water and raise it above ground level, there would be enough to cover the planet.

How is this possible? The water is frozen, so it is taking up more space than if it were melted. The water is dispersed by dust and dirt and rock, so it is taking up even more space now than it would if melted. So if we melt it, it will be less “voluminous”.

Also, the water is only at the poles (primarily south pole), and not spread around the globe. And if we raise it above ground, the surface area required to be covered increases.

So, we take an admittedly big chunk of water at a pole, melt it, and spread it around, and we have an instant water planet?

Doesn’t seem to add up. What gives?

The story has been sensationalized. The Weekly World News will no doubt soon tell us that Noah’s ark has been found discarded near the south pole of Mars :rolleyes:
The New York Times seems to have kept a clearer head than the BBC on this: Scientists Measuring Martian Ice Detect Oceans’ Worth
The actual data should come when Science is published later this week.
This APOD image was based on preliminary results.

FWIW, the press release I received today said the water was equivalent to twice that of Lake Michigan.

Bear in mind they don’t actually directly detect water. They detect hydrogen, but it’s most likely to be in the form of water.

Not that I’m supporting this theory, but suppose you had a large volume of mixed ice/grit/rocks/dust (but mostly ice) that was covered by a few metres of rocks and dust, melting the ice would allow the rocks, dust and grit to sink to the bottom, exposing the water.