Hydrographic measurements in Jökulsárlón lagoon, Iceland

Brandon, Mark; Hodgkins, Richard; Björnsson, Helgi and Ólaffson, Jón (2013). Hydrographic measurements in Jökulsárlón lagoon, Iceland. In: American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2013, 9-13 Dec 2013, San Francisco, CA, USA.

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Abstract

Jökulsárlón lagoon is an enclosed lake bordering the retreating Breidamerkurjökull glacier which flows down from the Vatnajökull ice cap. As the glacier calves most of the ice it releases decays within the lake and the addition of the stored fresh water modifies the water local properties. The lake itself is connected to the North Atlantic Ocean through a narrow channel only ~80 m wide, and all tidal and residual flows in and out of the lake are through this channel. In April 2012 (early spring) we conducted four hydrographic sections from a small boat to determine the early season hydrographic structure of the lake. We conducted two hydrographic sections from the entrance of the channel to sea across the lagoon to the Breidamerkurjökull glacier, one across the centre of the lagoon, and one along, and close to the glacier face. Four months of time series hydrographic data from the channel show that the oceanic tidal pulse into the lagoon is short in duration. The water that enters the lagoon is warm and saline enough to descend rapidly to the greatest depths within the lagoon. With our CTD measurements we have mapped the properties of water across the lake. These reveal the pathway of the Atlantic derived water towards the ice face. The warmest water measured within the lagoon was just below the surface and only adjacent to the glacier face. Whilst this warm water was created from solar input, its location and concentration reveal the complex density driven circulation patterns close to the ice face. Calculated oceanic driven melt rates from the ice face show enhanced oceanographic melting in this near surface layer which contributes to the more substantial deeper melting.

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