Castelao Renato M.

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Renato M.

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  • Article
    Meltwater-enhanced nutrient export from Greenland's Glacial Fjords: a sensitivity analysis
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-06-22) Oliver, Hilde ; Castelao, Renato M. ; Wang, Chuning ; Yager, Patricia L.
    As mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet accelerates, this modeling study considers how meltwater inputs to the ocean can impact marine ecosystems using a simplified fjord scenario. At marine‐terminating glaciers in Greenland fjords, meltwater can be delivered far below the sea surface, both as subglacial runoff (from atmosphere‐driven surface melt) and as basal melt (from ocean heat). Such delivery can result in buoyancy‐driven upwelling and the upward entrainment of nutrient‐rich deep water, which can support phytoplankton growth in fjord surface waters. For this study, we use an idealized fjord‐scale model to investigate which properties of glaciers and fjords govern the transport of buoyantly upwelled nutrients from fjords. We model the influence of fjord geometry, hydrology, wind, tides, and phytoplankton growth within the fjord on meltwater‐driven nutrient export to the ocean. We use the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) coupled to a buoyant plume model and a biogeochemical model to simulate physical and biogeochemical processes within an idealized tidewater glacial fjord. Results show that meltwater‐driven nutrient export increases with larger subglacial discharge rates and deeper grounding lines, features that are both likely to change with continued ice sheet melting. Nutrient export decreases with longer residence times, allowing greater biological drawdown. While the absence of a coastal current in the model setup prevents the downstream advection of exported nutrients, results suggest that shelf‐forced flows could influence nutrient residence time within fjords. This simplified model highlights key uncertainties requiring further observation to understand ecological impacts of Greenland mass loss.