18 Jun 2024
 | 18 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Freshwater input from glacier melt outside Greenland alters modeled northern high-latitude ocean circulation

Jan-Hendrik Malles, Ben Marzeion, and Paul G. Myers

Abstract. As anthropogenic climate change depletes Earth's ice reservoirs, large amounts of freshwater are released into the ocean. Since the ocean has a major influence on Earth's climate, understanding how the ocean changes in response to an increased freshwater input is crucial for understanding ongoing shifts in the climate system. Moreover, to comprehend the evolution of ice-ocean interactions, it is important to investigate if and how changes in the ocean might affect marine-terminating glaciers' stability. Though most attention in this context has been on freshwater input from Greenland, the other northern hemisphere glacierized regions are losing ice mass at a combined rate roughly half that of Greenland, and should not be neglected. In order to get a first estimate of how glacier mass loss around the Arctic affects the ocean and how potential changes in the ocean circulation might affect marine-terminating glaciers, we conduct one-way coupled experiments with an ocean general circulation model (NEMO-ANHA4) and a glacier evolution model (Open Global Glacier Model; OGGM) for the years 2010 to 2019. We find an increase in heat content of Baffin Bay and changes in the subpolar gyre's structure. Additionally, we find a decreased heat transport into the Barents Sea due to increased freshwater input from Svalbard and the Russian Arctic. The rerouting of Atlantic water from the Barents Sea Opening through Fram Strait leads to an increased heat transport into the Arctic Ocean and a decrease of sea ice thickness in the Fram Strait area.

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Jan-Hendrik Malles, Ben Marzeion, and Paul G. Myers

Status: open (until 06 Aug 2024)

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Jan-Hendrik Malles, Ben Marzeion, and Paul G. Myers

Data sets

Model output for: "Freshwater input from glacier melt outside Greenland alters modeled northern high-latitude ocean circulation" Jan-Hendrik Malles

Model code and software

jmalles/oggm/submarine_melt Jan-Hendrik Malles

Jan-Hendrik Malles, Ben Marzeion, and Paul G. Myers


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Short summary
Glaciers in the northern hemisphere outside Greenland are losing mass at roughly half the Greenland ice sheet's (GrIS) rate. Still, this is usually not included in the freshwater input data for numerical ocean circulation models. Also, the submarine melt of glaciers (outside the ice sheets) has not been quantified yet. We tackle both issues by using a numerical glacier model's output as additional freshwater for the ocean model and by using the ocean model's output to quantify submarine melt.