Quantifying flow regimes in a Greenland glacial fjord using iceberg drifters

David A. Sutherland, George E. Roth, Gordon S. Hamilton, Sebastian H. Mernild, Leigh A. Stearns, Fiammetta Straneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Large, deep-keeled icebergs are ubiquitous in Greenland's outlet glacial fjords. Here we use the movement of these icebergs to quantify flow variability in Sermilik Fjord, southeast Greenland, from the ice mélange through the fjord to the shelf. In the ice mélange, a proglacial mixture of sea ice and icebergs, we find that icebergs consistently track the glacier speed, with slightly faster speeds near terminus and episodic increases due to calving events. In the fjord, icebergs accurately capture synoptic circulation driven by both along-fjord and along-shelf winds. Recirculation and in-/out-fjord variations occur throughout the fjord more frequently than previously reported, suggesting that across-fjord velocity gradients cannot be ignored. Once on the shelf, icebergs move southeastward in the East Greenland Coastal Current, providing wintertime observations of this freshwater pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8411-8420
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • East Greenland Current
  • Greenland ice sheet
  • fjord circulation
  • ice mélange
  • iceberg melt
  • icebergs


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