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The biogeochemical fingerprint of melting ice

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The high-latitude regions are experiencing some of the most rapid environmental changes observed anywhere in recent decades. The Greenland Ice Sheet, for example, is experiencing significant mass loss largely through surface melting but also via ice discharge at glacier fronts. As well as changing freshwater budgets and ocean buoyancy, there has been increasing focus on the role of glaciers and ice sheets in supplying organic material and inorganic nutrients to marine systems. The extent to which these nutrients reach the coastal oceans and, eventually, mix via boundary currents off the shelf and into the open ocean is poorly constrained and still a matter of lively debate.

Here, I’ll be introducing project ICY -LAB (Isotope Cycling in the Labrador Sea), which aims to take a holistic, multi-disciplinary field approach in quantifying the influence of glacial meltwaters and other active processes on biogeochemical cycling in high-latitude margins. Our preliminary results already highlight the impact of significant glacial discharge on nutrient supply to shelf and slope waters, as well as surface and benthic production in these regions. Ongoing work will use a wider range of geochemical and oceanographic analyses to probe further into modern nutrient cycling in this region, as well as palaeoclimatological approaches to investigate changes in glacial meltwater discharge through time.

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

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