Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: ARI: Seasonal Fluxes across Submarine Ice Sheet Margins: A Pilot Study in West Greenland (Award# WHOIFjord)

PI: Das, Sarah Borsody (
Phone: (508) 289.2464 
Institute/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Department of Geology & Geophysics 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Research/Higher Ed\WHOI
Program Manager: Ms. Renee Crain (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere\Biogeochemistry | Cryosphere\Climate Change | Cryosphere\Oceanography |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This is a pilot study to investigate seasonally varying discharge across submarine ice sheet margins (aka grounding lines), one of the most important but least accessible, and thus least well understood, regions of the polar ice sheets. Glacial meltwater provides a significant source of freshwater, chemicals, nutrients and sediment to the surrounding oceans, but the lack of observations at the submarine ocean-ice interface, where the bulk of this meltwater is released, have thus far precluded the ability to understand the magnitude and variability of these fluxes. Researchers have chosen an outlet glacier / fjord system in western Greenland that is relatively shallow and free of large iceberg calving activity as the study site, enabling measurements and sampling at the ice-ocean interface. Field work will occur during targeted field campaigns that represent both low melt/discharge (“winter”) conditions and peak melt/discharge (“summer”) conditions to investigate the temporal and spatial nature of these highly variable fluxes. Researchers will use passive and active water mass tracers following classical oceanographic methods, along with discrete water sampling, carried out by ice-edge and under-ice AUV surveys (leveraging work being done under a separate NSF-MRI award), to investigate the character and fate of meltwater released at the submarine ice edge.

Logistics Summary:
For this study of seasonal variations in freshwater discharge across submarine glacier grounding lines, the PI will collect information on water properties of Greenland’s Saqqarleq Fjord. The work will be carried out during three trips taken in 2012 and 2013: in July 2012, late winter/spring 2013 and summer 2013. For each of these trips, during the summer season a field team of six to eight will travel on commercial airlines to Ilulissat and then put in to the field and establish a tent-camp base on land south of Saqqarleq Fjord. Researchers will use moored instruments, CTD casts, and AUV missions to measure the temporal and spatial variability of the water properties in this fjord.

CPS will provide Air National Guard (ANG) coordination for cargo from Scotia NY>< Kangerlussuaq >< Ilulissat, and camp equipment from CPS inventory on a not-to-interfere basis. The NSF will recoup costs directly from the PI's institute. All other logistics in and outside of Kangerlussuaq will be arranged and paid for by the research team.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2012Greenland - Ilulissat07 / 17 / 2012 07 / 26 / 20126
2012Greenland - Saqqarleq Fjord07 / 17 / 2012 07 / 26 / 20126
2013Greenland - Ilulissat05 / 21 / 2013 08 / 03 / 20134
2013Greenland - Saqqarleq Fjord05 / 21 / 2013 08 / 03 / 20134

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