At tidewater glaciers, plume dynamics affect submarine melting, fjord circulation, and the mixing of meltwater. Models often rely on buoyant plume theory to parameterize plumes and submarine melting; however, these parameterizations are largely untested due to a dearth of near-glacier measurements. Here we present a high-resolution ocean survey by ship and remotely operated boat near the terminus of Kangerlussuup Sermia in west Greenland. These novel observations reveal the 3-D structure and transport of a near-surface plume, originating at a large undercut conduit in the glacier terminus, that is inconsistent with axisymmetric plume theory, the most common representation of plumes in ocean-glacier models. Instead, the observations suggest a wider upwelling plume—a “truncated” line plume of ∼200 m width—with higher entrainment and plume-driven melt compared to the typical axisymmetric representation. Our results highlight the importance of a subglacial outlet's geometry in controlling plume dynamics, with implications for parameterizing the exchange flow and submarine melt in glacial fjord models.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
- subglacial discharge
- submarine melt