This PhD aims to understand how changes in the ocean impact on the dynamics of tidewater glaciers. I am particularly interested in how changes in the temperature and salinity of ocean waters are delivered to the glacier, how they affect the glacier calving rates and dynamics, and whether and how the fjords moderate these waters. To achieve this I will produce a numerical model which simulates the processes and interactions operating in an Arctic fjord over seasonal and longer timescales and use this to explore the significance of the different processes. The ultimate goal is to be able to predict the impact of future oceanic changes on Greenland’s tidewater glaciers.
Greenland is currently contributing significantly to sea-level rise, and this contribution appears to be increasing over time. Understanding the processes which connect changes in climate to glaciers is therefore important, particularly oceanographic influences, which have previously received relatively little attention compared to atmospheric controls. Key to this relationship are Arctic fjords, which act as a buffer between tidewater glaciers and the ocean. Modelling of Arctic fjords, and specifically Greenland Arctic fjords, is still in its infancy. Many questions remain about the role the fjord plays as a buffer and the fluid mechanics involved, whereas the oceans and glaciers as separate systems are relatively well studied. This situation means detailed modelling and study of fjords is both important and necessary.