Arctic climate change manifests itself in freshening of the surface seawater over recent decades due to increased precipitation, river runoff, and glacier- and sea-ice melt. Sea ice and glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates. The Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) melt has accelerated since the 1990s with potentially major consequences on the hydrography, biogeochemical cycles, and marine productivity in the Greenlandic coastal ecosystem.
The objectives of the interdisciplinary project BIGDEAL are to determine the glacial meltwater discharge entering the Arctic from the GIS and its impacts on biogeochemical cycles of carbondioxide, methane and mercury, and sea ice dynamic and thermodynamic processes. Those goals will be achieved through collaboration between teams specialized in physical oceanography, glaciology, and biogeochemistry.
Glacial meltwater is assumed to have unique biogeochemical characteristics. Changes in the glacial meltwater discharge may strongly influence coastal productivity around Greenland with large ecological and socio-economic impacts. Our research output will assist marine resource managers in identifying sustainable practices and establishing community-based monitoring targets for regional fisheries in response to increasing freshwater fluxes. These targets will assist communities and local governments in developing strategies to mitigate changing sea and glacier ice conditions and contaminant exposure via the consumption of marine food.