Ice-Sheet Ocean Interactions around Greenland
Greenland Ice Sheet's contribution to sea-level rise has
doubled over the last decade due to increased melting and, to
a greater extent, to the widespread acceleration of outlet
glaciers around Greenland. One of the mechanisms scientists believe
may have triggered this acceleration are changes in ocean
circulation in the North Atlantic which are delivering larger
amounts of subtropical waters to the high latitudes. As these
waters reach the glaciers, they can result in increased submarine
melting thus modifying the force balance at the edge of the
glaciers – potentially driving glacier acceleration. Our knowledge
of the properties of the ocean waters reaching Greenland's glaciers and our
understanding of the oceanic, atmospheric and glaciogical mechanisms that
control their variability, however, is presently very limited. Furthermore,
the physics of ice sheet/ocean interactions are typically absent or
crudely represented in ice sheet, glacier and climate models.
Thus more and longer term measurements from the ice/ocean boundary as well
as process oriented modeling studies are needed to address these issues
and improve our ability to interpret past and predict future ice sheet
As part of this effort, I have been collecting data at the edge of several
major outlet glaciers in East Greenland (Helheim, Kangerdlugssuaq and 79 N Glaciers)
- including moored instrument deployment and helicopter surveys.
The goal of these measurements is
to understand those oceanic processes which control the submarine melt
rate and improve our understanding of the relevant dynamics.
Photo: Ocean Measurements at 79 N Glacier: F. Straneo
and J. Ryder (WHOI) collected temperature, salinity
profiles in a rift in the glacier September 2009 (Photo by
Hamilton – University of Maine
Sutherland – University of
Curry – WHOI
Stearns – University of Kansas
Co-Chair of the U.S. CLIVAR WORKING
GROUP ON ICE SHEET-OCEAN INTERACTIONS IN GREENLAND
The overarching goal of this working group is to foster and promote interaction between the diverse oceanographic,
glaciological, atmospheric and climate communities, including modelers and field and data scientists within each
community, interested in glacier/ocean interactions around Greenland, to advance understanding of the process and
ultimately improve its representation in climate models.
changes in the subpolar North Atlantic trigger the recent
mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet?.,F.Straneo et al.
U.S. Clivar Variations
Circulation of warm subtropical waters in a major glacial fjord off East
Greenland, F. Straneo et al., Nature Geoscience, 2010, 3, 182-186.
Impact of fjord dynamics and
glacial runoff on the circulation near Helheim Glacier, F. Straneo et al.,
Nature Geoscience, 2011, 10.1038/NGEO1109.
project is supported by WHOI's Ocean and Climate Change
Institute and by the National Science Foundation Ocean