Research goals

The motivation for our research is the need for better prediction capabilities of global sea level changes. The aim of our project is to extend the current knowledge of interaction and processes that are changing the Greenland Ice Sheet, its properties and its dynamics. This particularly requires a much better understanding of the linkages between the North Atlantic, the Arctic Ocean, the atmosphere and ice sheet, as well as the peripheral glaciers in Greenland.

The focus of GROCE is a coordinated study of the 79°N Glacier and the surrounding ocean (see adjacent figure). This glacier is the most important outlet of one of the largest glacial streams of the Greenland Ice Sheet, but at the same time, it is located in the difficult to access and so far barely studied northeast of Greenland. As there is growing evidence that the 79°N glacier could retreat significantly over the next few years, an interdisciplinary case study of this critical location is overdue. The results of this study will be used to obtain regional estimates of Greenland's freshwater input, and do better projections of global sea-level rise in the future.

In our project, we closely investigate the following key research questions:

Research questions

Investigation of the processes and mechanisms that contribute to basal melting at the interface between warm ocean water and the outlet glaciers:

  1. Which ocean- and glacier-related processes control the strength and temporal changes in the circulation of warm ocean water within the ice-shelf cavity of the 79 ° N outlet glacier?
  2. What are the basal melt rates derived from the oceanic energy budget, and how is the exchange of glacial meltwater and seawater controlled?

Effects of atmospheric conditions, seawater properties and bottom topography on the dynamics of glaciers:

  1. How does the circulation in the cavity impact the movement of the grounding line, which marks the transition of the glacier's grounded inland part to the floating glacier tongue?
  2. How big is the influence of supra- and subglacial water on ice flow properties and glacier dynamics?

Teleconnections and feedbacks between Greenland's melting glaciers and the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans

  1. Can the glacier and ice flow mass balance explain the freshwater budget and -distribution in the adjacent oceans?
  2. What is the influence of the glacial-isostatic balance on the complex system of solid earth - ice - ocean, especially at the boundaries of ​​the Greenland Ice Sheet?
  3. How does the glacial freshwater inflow into the ocean affect the regional circulation?
  4. How do the changed circulation pattern and water mass distribution affect the oceanic heat supply to the glaciers?

Project funding

Coordination

Prof. Dr. Torsten Kanzow

Alfred-Wegener-Institut
Bussestraße 24
27568 Bremerhaven
+49(471)4831-2913
Torsten.Kanzow@awi.de

Website: Mario.Hoppmann@awi.de

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Project parters