Ocean circulation and variability beneath Nioghalvfjerdsbrae (79 North Glacier) ice tongue
Lindeman, Margaret R.
Wilson, Nathaniel J.
Toole, John M.
Krishfield, Richard A.
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The floating ice tongue of 79 North Glacier, a major outlet glacier of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, has thinned by 30% since 1999. Earlier studies have indicated that long‐term warming of Atlantic Intermediate Water (AIW) is likely driving increased basal melt, causing the observed thinning. Still, limited ocean measurements in 79 North Fjord beneath the ice tongue have made it difficult to test this hypothesis. Here we use data from an Ice Tethered Mooring (ITM) deployed in a rift in the ice tongue from August 2016 to July 2017 to show that the subannual AIW temperature variability is smaller than the observed interannual variability, supporting the conclusion that AIW has warmed over the period of ice tongue thinning. In July 2017, the AIW at 500 m depth in the ice tongue cavity reached a maximum recorded temperature of 1.5°C. Velocity measurements reveal weak tides and a mean overturning circulation, which is likely seasonally enhanced by subglacial runoff discharged at the grounding line. Deep inflow of AIW and shallow export of melt‐modified water persist throughout the record, indicating year‐round basal melting of the ice tongue. Comparison with a mooring outside of the cavity suggests a rapid exchange between the cavity and continental shelf. Warming observed during 2016–2017 is estimated to drive a 33 ± 20% increase in basal melt rate near the ice tongue terminus and a 14 ± 2% increase near the grounding line if sustained.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2020. 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 125(8), (2020): e2020JC016091, doi:10.1029/2020JC016091.
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Suggested CitationLindeman, M. R., Straneo, F., Wilson, N. J., Toole, J. M., Krishfield, R. A., Beaird, N. L., Kanzow, T., & Schaffer, J. (2020). Ocean circulation and variability beneath Nioghalvfjerdsbrae (79 North Glacier) ice tongue. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125(8), e2020JC016091.
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