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Greenland’s coastal margins are influenced by the confluence of Arctic and Atlantic waters, sea ice, icebergs, and meltwater from the ice sheet. Hundreds of spectacular glacial fjords cut through the coastline and support thriving marine ecosystems and, in some places, adjacent Greenlandic communities. Rising air and ocean temperatures, as well as glacier and sea-ice retreat, are impacting the conditions that support these systems. Projecting how these regions and their communities will evolve requires understanding both the large-scale climate variability and the regional-scale web of physical, biological, and social interactions. Here, we describe pan-Greenland physical, biological, and social settings and show how they are shaped by the ocean, the atmosphere, and the ice sheet. Next, we focus on two communities, Qaanaaq in Northwest Greenland, exposed to Arctic variability, and Ammassalik in Southeast Greenland, exposed to Atlantic variability. We show that while their climates today are similar to those of the warm 1930s–1940s, temperatures are projected to soon exceed those of the last 100 years at both locations. Existing biological records, including fisheries, provide some insight on ecosystem variability, but they are too short to discern robust patterns. To determine how these systems will evolve in the future requires an improved understandingmore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
Abstract The structure, transport, and seasonal variability of the West Greenland boundary current system near Cape Farewell are investigated using a high-resolution mooring array deployed from 2014 to 2018. The boundary current system is comprised of three components: the West Greenland Coastal Current, which advects cold and fresh Upper Polar Water (UPW); the West Greenland Current, which transports warm and salty Irminger Water (IW) along the upper slope and UPW at the surface; and the Deep Western Boundary Current, which advects dense overflow waters. Labrador Sea Water (LSW) is prevalent at the seaward side of the array within an offshore recirculation gyre and at the base of the West Greenland Current. The 4-yr mean transport of the full boundary current system is 31.1 ± 7.4 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 10 6 m 3 s −1 ), with no clear seasonal signal. However, the individual water mass components exhibit seasonal cycles in hydrographic properties and transport. LSW penetrates the boundary current locally, through entrainment/mixing from the adjacent recirculation gyre, and also enters the current upstream in the Irminger Sea. IW is modified through air–sea interaction during winter along the length of its trajectory around the Irminger Sea, which converts some ofmore »
Abstract. The effect of the North Atlantic Ocean on the Greenland Ice Sheet through submarine melting of Greenland's tidewater glacier calving fronts is thought to be a key driver of widespread glacier retreat, dynamic mass loss and sea level contribution from the ice sheet. Despite its critical importance, problems of process complexity and scale hinder efforts to represent the influence of submarine melting in ice-sheet-scale models. Here we propose parameterizing tidewater glacier terminus position as a simple linear function of submarine melting, with submarine melting in turn estimated as a function of subglacial discharge and ocean temperature. The relationship is tested, calibrated and validated using datasets of terminus position, subglacial discharge and ocean temperature covering the full ice sheet and surrounding ocean from the period 1960–2018. We demonstrate a statistically significant link between multi-decadal tidewater glacier terminus position change and submarine melting and show that the proposed parameterization has predictive power when considering a population of glaciers. An illustrative 21st century projection is considered, suggesting that tidewater glaciers in Greenland will undergo little further retreat in a low-emission RCP2.6 scenario. In contrast, a high-emission RCP8.5 scenario results in a median retreat of 4.2 km, with a quarter of tidewater glaciers experiencingmore »