MODIS observed increase in duration and spatial extent of sediment plumes in Greenland fjords
- 1University of Colorado, Department of Geological Sciences, Boulder, CO, USA
- 2University of Colorado, Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, INSTAAR, Boulder, CO, USA
- 3University of Colorado, CIRES, Boulder, CO, USA
- 4University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Abstract. 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.