PhD defence: Where does the freshwater go? Pathways for Greenland and Arctic waters from the east Greenland shelf to the North Atlantic

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In the coming decades, climate change will lead to increasing amounts of freshwater from Greenland and the Arctic entering the northern North Atlantic Ocean. Since freshwater is less dense than seawater, this could slow down the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation, with consequences for both the ocean and climate on land. Before reaching the open ocean, waters from Greenland and the Arctic initially flow over the continental shelf surrounding Greenland. The extent to which they then spread into the open ocean remains uncertain. In this study, oceanographic instruments that track surface ocean currents are used to understand how freshwater spreads away from the eastern coast of Greenland.

Very few of the instruments released as part of this project entered the open ocean east of Greenland. Most of them remained over the continental shelf until they reached the western side of Greenland, where some entered the open ocean. This indicates that east of Greenland, freshwater tends to stay close to the coast. Nonetheless, certain mechanisms can locally push freshwater into the open ocean, such as strong wind events occurring at the southern tip of Greenland. The circulation patterns along the eastern coast of Greenland are complex. Arctic and Greenland origin waters flow southwards in two current cores that are influenced by the shape of the seabed, which also affects how much freshwater can enter the open ocean. The dynamics of water flow around Greenland are small-scale and challenging to accurately represent in climate models, making such observational studies particularly important.

Start date and time
End date and time
Location
Utrecht University Hall, Domplein 29, and online via this link
PhD candidate
Elodie A.M. Duyck
Dissertation
Where does the freshwater go? Pathways for Greenland and Arctic waters from the east Greenland shelf to the North Atlantic
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. Dr Gert-Jan Reichart
Co-supervisor(s)
Dr Femke de Jong
More information
Full text via Utrecht University Repository