Expedition to study melting ice sheets

Posted on 27 Sep 2017 and read 491 times
Expedition to study melting ice sheetsA group of international researchers, led by scientists at the University of Bristol (www.bristol.ac.uk), have returned from an expedition to the Labrador Sea and coastal Greenland to investigate the role of melting ice on the chemistry and biology of the oceans — to find out how melting ice supplies the essential nutrients that feed marine life.

Dr Kate Hendry from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, led the expedition. She said: “We used ‘cutting edge’ automated equipment to make measurements and take samples.

"Two automated gliders took high-resolution measurements of water temperature, saltiness and particles in the water — including algae that take up carbon from the atmosphere and form the bottom of the marine food chain.

"Furthermore, an autonomous underwater vehicle took high-definition video images of the biology on the seafloor; it also collected samples of sediments and water.”

The team’s preliminary results show that glacial channels in the shallow, continental shelf feed low-salinity waters into the open ocean, and that these channels are key in the distribution of nutrients and marine organisms.

The sediments within the channel are also likely to be important in supplying nutrients to the overlying seawater.

However, the scientists have a lot of data and many more samples to analyse before they can fully tie together the physical, chemical and biological impacts of the meltwater.

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