Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Greenland: marine researchers examine the influence of the rapid rise in freshwater inflow

14.08.2012
Witnesses of glacial melting: marine researchers examine the influence of the rapid rise in freshwater inflow on marine algae along the west coast of Greenland

This year Greenland is experiencing one of the warmest summers in its recent history. This heat wave has meant that an international research team is in the unique position of being able to collect important climate data from the changing Arctic.

Until today German and US scientists on board the research ship MARIA S. MERIAN have been studying the extent to which the strong inflow of meltwater into the fjords along Greenland’s west coast are altering the chemical composition of the seawater and thus the living conditions for algae and other microorganisms.

Under the scientific leadership of Prof. Dr. Allan Cembella from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, scientists from the University of Oldenburg, the US-American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Alfred Wegener Institute have until now spent 16 days travelling along the waters of the west coast of Greenland. During this time the biologists, chemists, physicists and oceanographers have been witnesses to an advancing ice melt: “The glacial ice is currently melting at an unprecedented speed, and in doing so it is releasing freshwater and substances that have been enclosed in the Arctic ice for hundreds if not for thousands of years,” says Allan Cembella.

The scientists also observed changes in water temperature which they measured in fjords at depths ranging from the water surface through to 700 metres. “An initial analysis of our measurement data from the Disko bay, for example, confirmed previous studies. According to this, there has been a clear rise in water temperature at a depth of 200 metres due to changes in ocean currents in the 90s. This warm water probably gets underneath the tips of glaciers where it can additionally promote glacial melting,” according to Allan Cembella.

Heat waves, glacial melting, decline in sea ice: the widespread changes in the Arctic present great challenges for its residents – especially on the west coast of Greenland. Allan Cembella: “We expect the habitats of many marine organisms to shift as a result of the warming. This shift will particularly affect the species that live in flat coastal waters because of late their summer ice cover has always melted. This means that fish stocks are affected in the same way as the plankton, the several species living on the sea bed, the sea birds and marine mammals – and ultimately also humans.”

With the expedition on the MARIA S. MERIAN research ship which ends today, the scientists are for the first time trying to document possible changes in the chemical composition of the fjord water and of the bodies of water in the coastal areas of Greenland and Iceland, and to draw conclusions about possible effects on symbioses in the ocean. “It is our aim to find out the extent to which the great inflow of melt water and resultant changed water properties specifically affect the life cycle of the phytoplankton. To this end we have taken samples of water from areas close to the glaciers and coast in the transition zone to the open sea,” explains Allan Cembella.

These data will be of incalculable scientific value, especially in view of icebergs breaking off glaciers as happened recently at the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland. “Several different future scenarios have until now assumed that harmful algal blooms will occur more frequently in the Arctic in the course of warming. Our current studies will help us understand whether and to what extent widespread glacial melting provides the chemical and physical foundations for such blooms,” says Allan Cembella.

Notes for Editors: Your contact partner at the Alfred Wegener Institute is Sina Löschke, Dept. of Communications and Media Relations (phone +49 (0)471 4831-2008; e-mail: Sina.Loeschke(at)awi.de). Please find printable images on our website http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/.

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and in the high and mid-latitude oceans. The Institute coordinates German polar research and provides important infrastructure such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the international scientific world. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Ralf Röchert | idw
Further information:
http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/.

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht A damming trend
17.12.2018 | Michigan State University

nachricht Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis
13.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When a fish becomes fluid

17.12.2018 | Studies and Analyses

Progress in Super-Resolution Microscopy

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

How electric heating could save CO2 emissions

17.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>