Export of Strongly Diluted Greenland Meltwater From a Major Glacial Fjord Academic Article uri icon


  • The Greenland Ice Sheet has been, and will continue, losing mass at an accelerating rate. The influence of this anomalous meltwater discharge on the regional and large?scale ocean could be considerable but remains poorly understood. This uncertainty is in part a consequence of challenges in observing water mass transformation and meltwater spreading in coastal Greenland. Here we use tracer observations that enable unprecedented quantification of the export, mixing, and vertical distribution of meltwaters leaving one of Greenland's major glacial fjords. We find that the primarily subsurface meltwater input results in the upwelling of the deep fjord waters and an export of a meltwater/deepwater mixture that is 30 times larger than the initial meltwater release. Using these tracer data, the vertical structure of Greenland's summer meltwater export is defined for the first time showing that half the meltwater export occurs below 65 m.

publication date

  • May 16, 2018