Meet-our-scientists: Markus Reinert, Ocean modeler

Today, we speak with Markus Reinert (subtopic 9), who develops high-resolution models of glacier fjords in order to understand how the ocean drives melting at Greenland glaciers. Markus is a Ph.D. student at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde in Rostock (IOW), supervised by Professor Hans Burchard.

Markus, how did you become interested in studying Greenland?

It all started with my master’s degree studies. I aimed at applying my physics and mathematics skills to contribute to an improved understanding of climate change, since I consider it one of the greatest challenges today. That’s why I studied Ocean and Climate Physics at the European Institute of Marine Research (IUEM) in Brest, France. During the study programme, I learned not only about the physics behind various climate processes, but also developed skills in setting up and performing computer simulations of the ocean; namely 'numerical models'. After my studies, I was highly motivated to use these competences and decided to go for a doctorate in physical oceanography. I am excited to do my Ph.D. within the GROCE project because Greenland is one of the areas in the world affected the most by global warming.

What is your contribution to GROCE?

My contribution to GROCE will be a detailed description of the oceanic processes that drive the melting of the 79° North Glacier. I focus on a process called 'subglacial melting', i.e., the melting at the underside of the ice tongue of the 79° North Glacier. Since the ice tongue is floating on the water in the glacier fjord, we expect that the properties of the ocean govern the melt rates. One of our questions is: How much faster does the glacier melt when the Atlantic water becomes warmer and saltier? Our detailed analysis will allow us to set up a 'parametrization' for the subglacial melting at the 79° North Glacier. This parametrization is a mathematical description that is sufficiently simple to be used in large-scale ocean and climate models, while also being sufficiently accurate to predict the correct amount of subglacial melting.

What do you aim to accomplish by the end of the GROCE project?

My first goal is to develop a high-resolution computer simulation of the 79° North Glacier fjord. This simulation will help us to describe and explain how the ocean drives the melting at the glacier’s floating ice tongue. The results will then be integrated in the numerical ice sheet/ocean-model simulations (on larger spatial scales) developed by our colleagues in GROCE subproject 2.

When I have finished my Ph.D. studies, I want to have made an important contribution to climate models. I hope that my detailed simulations of glacial melting will allow for better predictions of future climate change.

You can find Markus’s recent publications on his website. To always stay up-to-date follow @ReinertMarkus on Twitter.

August 16, 2021