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Ice-ocean interactions, Helheim Glacier

I've been involved in a few NSF-funded projects investigating the variability of Helheim Glacier, and other glaciers along the East Coast of Greenland (both as a student and now a PI). We have been deploying networks of high-precision GPS units on Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq Glaciers in East Greenland since 2005. The data derived from the GPS units allows us to compare glacier flow patterns with calving events, weather anomalies, melt pond drainage events, tidal fluctuations and glacial earthquakes.

Our projects consist of a team of glaciologists and oceanographers, jointly investigating the role of fjord circulation on glacier variability. Most of the rapidly changing glaciers in Greenland terminate in tidewater, and thus understanding ocean changes is an important part of the glaciology puzzle. Fjord measurements show >4ºC waters circulating near Helheim Glacier, which has the potential to dramatically melt the front. We hypothesize that atmosphere/ocean changes since the mid-1990s have resulted in the unprecedented inflow of warm, subtropical waters off the Greenland continental shelf. We are studying the effect that the circulation patterns in several fjords in East Greenland, and investigating the interaction between circulation changes and glacier flow.

This NSF project "Collaborative Research: Glacier-Ocean Coupling in a Large East Greenland Fjord" is with:

  • Gordon Hamilton, University of Maine
  • Leigh A. Stearns, University of Kansas
  • Fiamma Straneo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
  • David Sutherland, University of Oregon

Papers about East Greenland outlet glaciers

  1. Sutherland, D. A., G. O. Roth, G. S. Hamilton, S. Mernild, L. A. Stearns, and F. Straneo. 2015.
    Using iceberg drifters as proxies for ice m´elange movement, fjord circulation, and shelf flow
    near Sermilik Fjord, East Greenland. Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2014GL062256.
  2. Foga, S., L. A. Stearns, C. J. van der Veen. 2014. Using satellite remote sensing data to
    determine terminus and ice m´elange variability at Helheim Glacier, East Greenland. Marine
    Technology Society Journal (Polar Instruments and Methods), doi:10.4013/MTSJ.48.5.3.
  3. Stearns, L. A. and H. Jiskoot, 2012. Greenland Chapter, in: Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS), J. S. Kargel, G. J. Leonard, M. P. Bishop, A. Ka ̈a ̈b and B. Raup (Editors), Praxis- Springer (Publishers), Heidelberg, ISBN: 978-3-540-79817-0, in press.
  4. Andersen, M. L., M. Nettles, P. Elo ́segui, T. B. Larsen, G. S. Hamilton and L. A. Stearns. 2011. Quantitative estimates of velocity sensitivity to surface melt variations at a large Greenland outlet glacier. Journal of Glaciology, 57:204, 609 – 620.
  5. Straneo, F., R. G. Curry, D. A. Sutherland, G. S. Hamilton, C. Cenedese, K. Va ̊ge and L. A. Stearns. 2011. Impact of ocean stratification on submarine melting of Helheim Glacier in Greenland, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo1109.
  6. Andersen, M. L., T. B. Larsen, M. Nettles, P. Elo ́segui, D. van As, G. S. Hamilton, L. A. Stearns, J. L. Davis, A. P. Ahlstrøm, J. de Juan, G. Ekstro ̈m, L. Stenseng, S. A. Khan, R. Forsberg and D. Dahl-Jensen. 2010. Spatial and temporal melt variability at Helheim Glacier, East Greenland, and its effect on ice dynamics, Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1029/2010JF001760.
  7. De Juan, J., P. Elo ́segui, M. Nettles, T. B. Larsen, J. L. Davis, G. S. Hamilton, L. A. Stearns, M. L. Andersen, G. Ekstro ̈m, A. P. Ahlstrøm, S. A. Khan and R. Forsberg. 2010. Sudden increase in tidal response linked to calving and acceleration at a large Greenland outlet glacier. Geophysical Research Letters, 37, L12501, doi:10.1029/2010GL043289.
  8. Straneo, F., G. S. Hamilton, D. A. Sutherland, L. A. Stearns, F. Davidson, and A. Rosing-Asvid. 2010. Wind-Forced Circulation of Subtropical Waters in a large, East Greenland Glacial Fjord. Nature Geo- science, doi:10.1038/ngeo764.
  9. Nettles, M., T. B. Larsen, P. Elo ́segui, G. S. Hamilton, L. A. Stearns, A. P. Ahlstrøm, J. L. Davis, M. L. Andersen, J. de Juan, S. A. Khan, L. Stenseng, G. Ekstrøm and R. Forsberg. 2008. Step-wise changes in glacier flow speed coincide with calving and glacial earthquakes at Helheim Glacier, Greenland. Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L24503, doi:10.1029/2008GL036127.
  10. Khan, S. A., J. Wahr, L. A. Stearns, G. S. Hamilton, T. van Dam, K. M. Larson and O. Francis. 2007. Elastic uplift in southeast Greenland due to rapid ice mass loss. Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L21701, doi:10.1029/2007GL031468.
  11. Stearns, L. A. and G. S. Hamilton. 2007. Rapid volume loss from two East Greenland outlet glaciers quantified using repeat stereo satellite imagery. Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L05503, doi:10.1029/ 2006GL028982.

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