eCite Digital Repository

Ocean regulation hypothesis for glacier dynamics in southeast Greenland and implications for ice sheet mass changes


Murray, T and Scharrer, K and James, TD and Dye, SR and Hanna, E and Booth, AD and Selmes, N and Luckman, A and Hughes, ALC and Cook, S and Huybrechts, P, Ocean regulation hypothesis for glacier dynamics in southeast Greenland and implications for ice sheet mass changes, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 115, (F3) Article F03026. ISSN 2169-9003 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2010 The American Geophysical Union

DOI: doi:10.1029/2009JF001522


Synchronous acceleration and thinning of southeast (SE) Greenland glaciers during the early 2000s was the main contributor that resulted in the doubling of annual discharge from the ice sheet. We show that this acceleration was followed by a synchronized and widespread slowdown of the same glaciers, in many cases associated with a decrease in thinning rates, and we propose that ice sheet–ocean interactions are the first-order regional control on these recent mass changes. Sea surface temperature and mooring data show that the preceding dynamic thinning coincides with a brief decline in the cold East Greenland Coastal Current (EGCC) and East Greenland Current. We suggest this decline was partly induced by a reduction in ice sheet runoff, which allowed warm water from the Irminger Current to reach the SE Greenland coast. A restrengthening of the cold waters coincides with the glaciers' subsequent slowdown. We argue that this warming and subsequent cooling of the coastal waters was the cause of the glaciers' dynamic changes. We further suggest that the restrengthening of the EGCC resulted in part from cold water input by increased glacier calving during the speedup and increased ice sheet runoff. We hypothesize that the main mechanism for ice sheet mass loss in SE Greenland is highly sensitive to ocean conditions and is likely subject to negative feedback mechanisms.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:glaciology, ice-ocean interaction, Greenland
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Cook, S (Dr Sue Cook)
ID Code:102755
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:137
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2015-09-04
Last Modified:2015-10-06

Repository Staff Only: item control page