Vertical distribution of water mass properties under the influence of subglacial discharge in Bowdoin Fjord, northwestern Greenland

Ohashi, Yoshihiko; Aoki, Shigeru; Matsumura, Yoshimasa; Sugiyama, Shin; Kanna, Naoya; Sakakibara, Daiki

Subglacial discharge has significant impacts on water circulation, material transport, and biological productivity in proglacial fjords of Greenland. To help clarify the fjord water properties and the effect of subglacial discharge, we investigated the properties of vertical water mass profiles of Bowdoin Fjord in northwestern Greenland based on summer hydrographic observations, including turbidity, in 2014 and 2016. We estimated the fraction of subglacial discharge from the observational data and interpreted the observed differences in subglacial plume behavior between two summer seasons with the numerical model results. At a depth of 15–40 inline-formulam, where the most turbid water was observed, the maximum subglacial discharge fractions near the ice front were estimated to be inline-formula∼6 % in 2014 and inline-formula∼4 % in 2016. The higher discharge fraction in 2014 was likely due to stronger stratification, as suggested by the numerical experiments performed with different initial stratifications. Turbidity near the surface was higher in 2016 than in 2014, suggesting a stronger influence of turbid subglacial discharge. The higher turbidity in 2016 could primarily be attributed to a greater amount of subglacial discharge, as inferred from the numerical experiments forced by different amounts of discharge. This study suggests that both fjord stratification and the amount of discharge are important factors in controlling the vertical distribution of freshwater outflow.

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Ohashi, Yoshihiko / Aoki, Shigeru / Matsumura, Yoshimasa / et al: Vertical distribution of water mass properties under the influence of subglacial discharge in Bowdoin Fjord, northwestern Greenland. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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