3 years ago

Evidence of local and regional freshening of Northeast Greenland coastal waters

Thomas Juul-Pedersen, Jakob Abermann, Jørgen Bendtsen, Mikael K. Sejr, John Mortensen, Søren Rysgaard, Colin A. Stedmon
The supply of freshwater to fjord systems in Greenland is increasing as a result of climate change-induced acceleration in ice sheet melt. However, insight into the marine implications of the melt water is impaired by lack of observations demonstrating the fate of freshwater along the Greenland coast and providing evaluation basis for ocean models. Here we present 13 years of summer measurements along a 120 km transect in Young Sound, Northeast Greenland and show that sub-surface coastal waters are decreasing in salinity with an average rate of 0.12 ± 0.05 per year. This is the first observational evidence of a significant freshening on decadal scale of the waters surrounding the ice sheet and comes from a region where ice sheet melt has been less significant. It implies that ice sheet dynamics in Northeast Greenland could be of key importance as freshwater is retained in southward flowing coastal currents thus reducing density of water masses influencing major deep water formation areas in the Subarctic Atlantic Ocean. Ultimately, the observed freshening could have implications for the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation.

Publisher URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-10610-9

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-10610-9

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