University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series > Ice melt driven by the ocean - Two process studies on the physics of ice-ocean interactions based on observations from NE Greenland and the central Arctic Ocean

Ice melt driven by the ocean - Two process studies on the physics of ice-ocean interactions based on observations from NE Greenland and the central Arctic Ocean

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Part I: Rapid supply of warm Atlantic waters below Greenland’s largest glacier tongue

Mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet has increased over the past two decades, currently accounting for 25% of global sea level rise. This is due to increased surface melt driven by atmospheric warming and the retreat and acceleration of marine terminating glaciers forced by oceanic heat transport. We use ship-based profiles, bathymetric data and moored time series from 2016 to 2017 of temperature, salinity and water velocity collected in front of the floating tongue of the 79 North Glacier in Northeast Greenland. These observations indicate that a year-round bottom-intensified inflow of warm Atlantic Water through a narrow channel is constrained by a sill. The associated heat transport leads to a mean melt rate of 10.4 ± 3.1 m yr–1 on the bottom of the floating glacier tongue. We conclude that near-glacier, sill-controlled ocean heat transport plays a crucial role for glacier stability.

Part II: Trapped in the Arctic ice – First results from the MOS AiC expedition (leg 3)

MOS AiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) aims at a breakthrough in understanding the Arctic climate system and in its representation in global climate models. The backbone of MOS AiC is the year-round operation of RV Polarstern, drifting since October 2019 with the sea ice across the central Arctic. A distributed regional network of observational sites has been set up on the sea ice in an area of up to ~40 km distance from RV Polarstern. Team OCEAN aims at a better understanding of ocean boundary-layer mixing processes and heat fluxes from the warm Atlantic water across the halocline. On leg 3, all teams carried out measurements during the transition from 24-hours darkness to 24-hours light. Furthermore, we sampled in newly formed leads and ridges, during the passage of storms, and captured the onset of the melting season – under challenging work conditions.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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