Leadership

Conducted in conjunction with the Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University, Denmark.

Our Young Explorers will become highly informed on core climate change science through participating in our scientific fieldwork program. The expedition will make the first-ever detailed studies of Greenland’s sensitive south-eastern glaciers which are key indicators of climate change.

The science program will focus on four areas of study:

1. Bathymetry
Depth profiles of selected fjords and glacial snout mapping. Data used to constrain models of ice dynamics and ice sheet – ocean interactions. Possible collaboration with Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK.

2. Fjord water profiling
Salinity and temperature profiles collected from selected fjords. Data used to estimate melt rate at the base of floating glaciers and provide calibration data for models of ocean mixing.

3. Glacial calving
Time-lapse photography of most active glaciers in study area. Data to provide frequency and scale of calving events to indicate quantity of fresh water flowing into the Atlantic. Collaboration with the Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research at the Colorado University, Boulder, USA.

4. Supraglacial lake drainage
Time-lapse photography, involving special cameras set up using helicopters, to make first visual record of a supraglacial lake drainage event. The recent phenomenon of shallow surface lakes forming on the icecap is increasing in extent and frequency. Recently, the lakes have been observed by satellite to simply disappear, presumably down vast crevasses to the bedrock where the water lubricates glaciers to speed up their journey to the sea. Data may help provide understanding of mechanics, scope and speed of such drainage events.

GLOBAL RECOGNITION

Our expedition logistics enable ACLC to be in a unique position to access this remote and previously unstudied region, comprising some 30 glacial headwalls. Lying south of the Arctic Circle, the area is sensitive to rapid rise in temperatures from climate change and hence serves as the climate’s early warning system. Glaciers from here are swept by the East Greenland Polar Current into the North Atlantic to melt.

By using field computers and satellite communications, we can broadcast our findings daily to enable the Young Explorers to share the excitement of this important scientific field work with their Teams and so their greater networks. Through this system, we will try to ensure that Australia is recognised for its contribution to the world’s understanding of the pace of global warming.

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Floating glacier snout. Icebergs break free and are carried away by coastal and ocean currents to melt, raising sea levels.

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Surface melt flow. Rivers flow across the top of the icecap and through tunnels beneath the icecap surface. The icecap will become rotten & unstable.

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Retreating glacier. Observers at an icefall that is slowly retreating from the sea.

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Melt mapping. This map of the Greenland icecap’s southern dome shows the dramatic effects of global climate change on ice thickness

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