Meet the oceanography team!
Well, we’re not really a team. Not yet at least. In fact, we have only known each other for a short time. Andreas and Céline met in December in San Francisco, sharing their science with 20 000 other scientists, and Jari met them both late May when we all worked together to load and assemble some of our gear aboard on Oden.
Andreas is a researcher at the University of Delaware, in the US. He has been a US citizen for almost a decade now, although he was born in Germany the year the Berlin Wall came up. He has already been to Petermann and has 12 years of data for the other oceanographers to analyse during the cruise.
Céline is a postdoc at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. She is French, but has lived in England long enough for people to systematically ask her if she is… Dutch. So far, she has only worked in and about Antarctica – this cruise inaugurates her work on the Labrador Sea system for which she just signed the contract.
Jari is a master student at KTH in Stockholm, Sweden as well. Yet he is German (as well), and has a Finnish firstname. Although he is a keen sailor, Petermann is his first research cruise. It concludes his master’s project, which consisted in designing a new temperature measurement instrument: the LoTUS (Long Term Underwater Sensing) bottom landers. Ten of these will be deployed in a month.
And why are we here? We want to know how a changing global climate and Arctic Ocean may change Greenland glaciers. For this, we measure ocean temperature and salinity. These properties vary in both space and time as tides and inflowing warm Atlantic waters mix and provide heat that melts the glacier from below.
Petermann Glacier is currently one of the fastest melting ones of Greenland. Furthermore, Manhattan-sized icebergs have calved the last 5 years more frequently than they did since Sir Nares visited in for the first time in 1876. These islands of ice move fast as far south as the Labrador Sea, posing serious hazards for people who work and live here, and potentially impacting the whole ocean circulation (that’s Céline’s postdoc project topic).
Andreas and his colleagues (see Johnson et al., 2011) are the ones who discovered a few years ago that the ocean circulation under the ice plays a key role in melting the glacier from below. During Petermann2015, we will further investigate the relationship between the ocean properties and the glacier warming and see if and how it has changed since Andreas’s last observations.