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Ocean-glacier Interaction at the East Coast of Greenland


Program / partnership
Arctic Science Partnership (ASP)
Project start
Project end
Type of project
Project theme
Ocean & fiord systems
Project topic
Glacier - ocean coupling

Project details

Science / project plan

In the last two decades a warming of ocean waters has significantly contributed to the retreat of marine terminating glaciers around the coast of Greenland. However, the mechanisms driving warm Atlantic waters across the continental shelves and into glacial fjords are barely understood yet. In our projects, we study the ocean-glacier interaction at the east coast of Greenland. We focus on two study areas: Area A is the 79 North Glacier, which has Greenland's largest floating glacier tongue, and areas B is Daugaard-Jensen in  Scoresby Sound. Our expeditions in 2016, 2017 and 2018 revealed a flow of warm waters toward both glaciers causing high submarine melt rates. In order to better understand the temporal variability of the oceanic forcing, we measure ocean temperature and salinity, and current speed along the pathway of warm waters by moored instruments. In summer 2020, we plan to recover our three moorings from Scoresby Sound.

Publications related to project

Schaffer, J. et al. (2017): Warm water pathways toward Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier, Northeast Greenland. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans 122, 4004–4020,

Mayer, C., Schaffer, J. et al. (2018): Large ice loss variability at Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier, Northeast-Greenland. Nat. Commun 9, 2768,

Seifert, M. et al. (2019): Influence of Glacial Meltwater on Summer Biogeochemical Cycles in Scoresby Sund, East Greenland. Front. Mar. Sci. 6:412,

Schaffer, J. et al. (in press): Bathymetry constrains ocean heat supply to Greenland's largest glacier tongue. Nat. Geosci.,

Münchow, A., Schaffer, J., and Kanzow, T. Ocean circulation connecting Fram Strait to glaciers off North-east Greenland: mean flows, topographic Rossby waves, and their forcing. (accepted): J. Phys. Oceanogr.,