Characteristic depths, fluxes and timescales for Greenland's tidewater glacier fjords from subglacial discharge‐driven upwelling during summer

D. A. Slater, D. Carroll, H. Oliver, M. J. Hopwood, F. Straneo, M. Wood, J. K. Willis, M. Morlighem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Greenland’s glacial fjords are a key bottleneck in the earth system, regulating exchange of heat, freshwater and nutrients between the ice sheet and ocean and hosting societally important fisheries. We combine recent bathymetric, atmospheric, and oceanographic data with a buoyant plume model to show that summer subglacial discharge from 136 tidewater glaciers, amounting to 0.02 Sv of freshwater, drives 0.6-1.6 Sv of upwelling. Bathymetric analysis suggests that this is sufficient to renew most major fjords within a single summer, and that these fjords provide a path to the continental shelf that is deeper than 200 m for two-thirds of the glaciers. Our study provides a first pan-Greenland inventory of tidewater glacier fjords and quantifies regional and ice sheet-wide upwelling fluxes. This analysis provides important context for site-specific studies and is a step towards implementing fjord-scale heat, freshwater and nutrient fluxes in large-scale ice sheet and climate models.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL097081
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume49
Issue number10
Early online date2 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2022

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