Transient weather systems determine the atmospheric transport of moisture and trace elements. In particular, these weather systems drive the uptake of moisture from the ocean, its long-range transport in the atmosphere, and the formation of clouds, rain and snow. These processes are all particularly intense and complex near Greenland, and they have far-reaching consequences for polar ocean dynamics, the mass balance of Greenland’s ice sheet and the atmospheric cycling of trace elements. This primarily meteorological project aims at improving the understanding of these processes by observing the vertical structure of the polar atmosphere with balloon soundings, examining near-Greenland precipitation with a radar, and measuring stable water isotopes in water, in air, sea and ice. In addition, the project analyses trace elements in water samples with a global health impact, i.e., the essential element selenium (Se) and the toxic element arsenic (As).
The stable water isotopes are very useful to characterise the water cycle as they record how water molecules evaporate from the ocean, are transported over thousands of kilometres in the atmosphere, condense into water droplets in clouds, freeze and form snowflakes, and eventually are deposited in Greenland ice.
The expected outcome of this project is a unique dataset of water and trace element information near Greenland, which leads to an improved understanding of how different cycles in the Earth’s system are interacting.