The moorings' instruments showed that fast currents shot up and down the fjord, driven by winds and ocean currents outside the fjord. Winds blowing along the coast drove the top layer in through the fjord toward the glacier, displacing bottom-layer waters outward.
When winds died down, the currents reversed direction. The process constantly flooded the fjord with new water, transmitting ocean water temperature changes on the continental shelf through the fjord toward the glacier. Understanding this phenomenon might be important for predicting how changing ocean conditions could affect the acceleration of glacial ice into the ocean and the rise in global ocean sea level.
The Sermilik Fjord links the terminus of the Helheim Glacier to the open ocean off Greenland continental shelf. Cooler, fresher water lies atop denser, warmer, saltier water below.