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Climate scientists monitor the flow of glacier Kangiata Nunaata Sermia Published 30.04.2010

Scientists Martin Truffer, David Podrasky and Daniela Dellagiustina from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have just returned from a ten day trip to Kangiata Nunaata Sermia, the glacier at the end of the Godthåbsfjord north of Nuuk. With the capable help from Kunuk Lennert and Thomas Krogh from the Greenland Climate Research Centre they established a base camp and put out cameras, GPS and seismic stations to monitor the flow of ice into the fjord.

During the past decade glaciers around Greenland have been speeding up and contributing increasing amounts of ice and freshwater to the surrounding ocean. It is generally believed that warmer ocean water is to blame. Direct measurements of ocean melt are challenging in ice-covered fjords with calving glaciers.

In this three-year collaborative “Glacier-Fjord-Ocean” project between the Greenlandic Climate Research Centre and the University of Alaska and University of New Hampshire in the US, the researchers are trying to understand the interaction between glacial ice and fjord waters. This is done by measuring the flow of ice into the fjord and the loss of glacier volume from surface melting and calving.

The ice measurements will then be related to ocean heat transport in the fjord, which is assessed with the help of moorings and repeated CTD transects (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth), as well as models.

Video from the Kangiata Nunaata Sermia glacier.

Martin Truffer and Kunuk Lennert preparing scientific equipment. Photo: Thomas Krogh

View over glacier Kangiata Nunaata Sermia towards Godthåbsfjord. Photo: Martin Truffer