The Arctic Ocean around Greenland is one of the prime sentinels of the Earth’s climate. It exerts important controls on the global ocean circulation, and in turn on the distribution and transport of nutrients and heat. Primary productivity, the photosynthetic fixation of CO2 into organic matter, is an important component of the global carbon cycle. It consequently affects marine ecosystem dynamics and global climate. The Greenland ice sheet has been melting at unprecedented rates as a consequence of global warming. The physical and chemical effects of freshwater addition to the Arctic Ocean are multifaceted, and can either operate in tandem or oppose each other.
The main objective of the project GreenMelt is to investigate the links between ice-loss-associated nutrient fluxes to coastal- and open-ocean ecosystems, and related consequences for primary production and processes that affect the air-sea fluxes of climate-relevant gases in the Arctic Ocean around Greenland. Iron (Fe) and nitrogen (N), key elements that are crucial for phytoplankton growth, are the prime focus of investigation. We expect that the contribution of meltwater to the iron and nitrogen inventories in the coastal- and open-ocean waters around Greenland have a strong impact on nutrient availability, ecosystem productivity and diversity, as well as the CO2 and N2O gas exchange between the surface ocean and the atmosphere.