Meltwater pathways from marine terminating glaciers of the Greenland ice sheet

Laura Gillard, Xianmin Hu, Paul Myers, Jonathan L Bamber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
471 Downloads (Pure)


The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) stores the largest amount of freshwater in the northern hemisphere and has been recently losing mass at an increasing rate. An eddy-permitting ocean general circulation model is forced with realistic estimates of freshwater flux from the GrIS. Two approaches are used to track the meltwater and its trajectory in the ocean. We show that freshwater from western and eastern GrIS have markedly different fates, on a decadal timescale. Freshwater from west Greenland predominantly accumulates in Baffin Bay before being exported south down the Labrador shelf. Meanwhile, GrIS freshwater entering the interior of the Labrador Sea, where deep convection occurs, comes predominantly (~80%) from east Greenland. Therefore, hosing experiments, which generally assume a uniform freshwater flux spatially, will not capture the true hydrographic response and regional impacts. In addition, narrow boundary currents are important for freshwater transport and distribution, requiring simulations with eddy-resolving resolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10873–10882
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
Early online date25 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2016


  • Greenland Ice Sheet
  • Labrador Sea
  • Oceanography
  • Convection
  • Meltwater
  • Marine Terminating Glaciers

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Meltwater pathways from marine terminating glaciers of the Greenland ice sheet'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this