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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-174
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-174
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 Jan 2019

Research article | 02 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

A reconstruction of warm water inflow to Upernavik Isstrøm since AD 1925 and its relation to glacier retreat

Flor Vermassen1,2, Nanna Andreasen1,3, David J. Wangner1,2, Nicolas Thibault3, Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz4, Rebecca Jackson1, Sabine M. Schmidt5, Kurt H. Kjær2, and Camilla S. Andresen1 Flor Vermassen et al.
  • 1Department of Glaciology and Climate, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 3Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 4Institute for Geoscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 5CNRS, OASU, EPOC, UMR5805, Pessac Cedex, France

Abstract. The mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet has increased over the past two decades. Marine-terminating glaciers contribute significantly to this mass loss due to increased melting and ice discharge. Rapid retreat periods of these tidewater glaciers have been linked to the concurrent inflow of warm, Atlantic derived waters. However, little is known about the variability of Atlantic-derived waters within these fjords, due to a lack of multi-annual, in situ measurements. Thus, to better understand the potential role of ocean warming on glacier retreat, reconstructions that characterize the variability of Atlantic water inflow to these fjords are required. Here, we investigate foraminiferal assemblages in a sediment core from Upernavik Fjord, West Greenland, in which the major ice stream Upernavik Isstrøm terminates. We investigate the environmental characteristics that control species diversity and derive that it is predominantly controlled by changes in bottom water variability. Hence, we provide a reconstruction of Atlantic water inflow to Upernavik Fjord, spanning the period 1925–2012. This reconstruction reveals peak Atlantic water inflow during the 1930s and again after 2000, a pattern that is similar to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). We compare these results to historical observations of front positions of Upernavik Isstrøm. This reveals that inflow of warm, Atlantic-derived waters indeed likely contributed to high retreat rates in the 1930s and after 2000. However, moderate retreat rates of Upernavik Isstrøm also prevailed in the 1960s/1970s, showing that retreat continued despite reduced Atlantic water inflow, albeit at a lower rate. Considering the link between bottom water variability and the AMO in Upernavik Fjord and the fact that a persistent negative phase of the AMO is expected for the next decade, Atlantic water inflow into the fjord may decrease in the next ~10 years.

Flor Vermassen et al.
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Flor Vermassen et al.
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Short summary
This study shows that warming of ocean waters is related to the retreat of Upernavik Isstrøm, a glacier in Northwest Greenland. We show that in the 1930s and after 2000 the waters in the fjord warmed and the glacier retreated. We found this by investigating microfossils from sediments in Upernavik Fjord; different species occur in response to warmer waters.
This study shows that warming of ocean waters is related to the retreat of Upernavik Isstrøm, a...
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