Alaska Science Center
MODIS observed increase in duration and spatial extent of sediment plumes in Greenland Fjords
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Full Publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/tc-8-1161-2014
Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hudson, B., I. Overeem, D. McGrath, J. P. M. Syvitski, and A. Mikkelsen
The freshwater flux from the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) to the North Atlantic Ocean carries extensive but poorly documented volumes of sediment. We develop a suspended sediment concentration (SSC) retrieval algorithm using a large Greenland specific in situ data set. This algorithm is applied to all cloud-free NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) Terra images from 2000 to 2012 to monitor SSC dynamics at six river plumes in three fjords in southwest Greenland. Melt-season mean plume SSC increased at all but one site, although these trends were primarily not statistically significant. Zones of sediment concentration > 50 mg L-1 expanded in three river plumes, with potential consequences for biological productivity. The high SSC cores of sediment plumes ( > 250 mg L-1 expanded in one-third of study locations. At a regional scale, higher volumes of runoff were associated with higher melt-season mean plume SSC values, but this relationship did not hold for individual rivers. High spatial variability between proximal plumes highlights the complex processes operating in Greenland's glacio-fluvial-fjord systems.