Characteristics and dynamics of two major Greenland glacial fjords
Sutherland, David A.
Pickart, Robert S.
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KeywordGreenland; Fjord circulation; Estuarine circulation; Intermediary circulation; Meltwater; East Greenland Current; Atlantic Water; Glaciers
The circulation regimes of two major outlet glacial fjords in southeastern Greenland, Sermilik Fjord (SF) and Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord (KF), are investigated using data collected in summer 2009. The two fjords show similar flow patterns, with a time-dependent, vertically sheared flow structure dominating over the background estuarine flow driven by buoyancy input. We show that this time-dependent flow is consistent with circulation induced by density interface fluctuations at the fjord mouth, often referred to as intermediary circulation. One difference between the fjords is that the hydrographic and velocity structure below a surface modified layer is found to be three layer in KF in summer, compared to two layer in SF. Outside each fjord, large-scale geostrophic currents dictate the stratification at the mouth, although the way in which these large-scale flows impinge on each fjord is distinct. Combining the observations with estimates from existing theories, we find the magnitudes of the estuarine (Qe) and intermediary (Qi) circulation and show that Qi >> Qe, although along-fjord winds can also be significant. We expect that the critical parameter determining Qi/Qe is the sill depth compared to the fjord depth, with shallower sills corresponding to weaker intermediary circulation. Finally, we discuss the implications of strong intermediary circulation on calculating heat transport to the glacier face and its potential feedbacks on the background circulation in these highly stratified estuaries.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 119 (2014): 3767–3791, doi:10.1002/2013JC009786.
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