Collaborative Research: A synthesis of rapid meltwater and ice discharge changes: large forcings from the ice with impacts on global sea level and North Atlantic freshwater budgets

Project: Research project

Project Details



Freshwater discharge from the Greenland ice sheet has a direct and immediate effect on global sea level, has the potential to impact global climate by perturbing nearby sensitive regions of oceanic deep-water formation, and is an important but as yet poorly quantified part of the pan-Arctic water balance.

The investigators will synthesize a range of extant data sets using numerous methods. Remote sensing and atmospheric modeling calibrated by surface data accurately reveal a spatially resolved history of surface melting on Greenland over decades, and coastal weather stations extend observations to more than a century. Sophisticated transfer techniques, including nonlinear approaches, will be used to downscale from these instrumental data to specific ice-core records of melt, learning how the widespread signal is archived. The derived transfer functions, the centuries-long ice-core records, and the century-length coastal-station records then will allow upscaling to determine meltwater variability over longer times than now available. Remotely sensed changes in ice shelves/tongues and outlet-glacier flow speeds will be combined with the contemporaneous histories of surface melting, and analyzed using diagnostic ice-flow modeling incorporating longitudinal stresses to learn how meltwater variability and ice shelf changes force ice-flow variability. If successful diagnosis is achieved, then the longer melt history from the ice-cores can be used to estimate the ice-flow variability over the same interval; the relations between ice-flow and melt changes also can be used prognostically in assessing future changes in the ice sheet affecting freshwater fluxes.

Effective start/end date9/1/058/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $194,466.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.