Spatial and temporal variations in high turbidity surface water off the Thule region, northwestern Greenland

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Abstract

Glacial meltwater discharge from the Greenland ice sheet and ice caps forms high turbidity water in the proglacial ocean off the Greenland coast. Although the timing and magnitude of high turbidity water export affect the coastal marine environment, for example, through impacts on biological productivity, little is known about the characteristics of this high turbidity water. In this paper, we therefore report on the spatial and temporal variations in high turbidity water off the Thule region in northwestern Greenland, based on remote sensing reflectance data at a wavelength of 555 nm (Rrs555). The high turbidity area, identified on the basis of high reflectivity (Rrs555 ≥ 0.0070 sr−1), was generally distributed near the coast, where many outlet glaciers terminate in the ocean and on land. The extent of the high turbidity area exhibited substantial seasonal and interannual variability, and its annual maximum extent was significantly correlated with summer air temperature. Assuming a linear relationship between the high turbidity area and summer temperature, annual maximum extent increases under the influence of increasing glacial meltwater discharge, as can be inferred from present and predicted future warming trends.

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Ohashi, Y., Iida, T., Sugiyama, S., & Aoki, S. (2016). Spatial and temporal variations in high turbidity surface water off the Thule region, northwestern Greenland. Polar Science, 10(3), 270–277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polar.2016.07.003

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