Another key target region for the expedition is northeast Greenland, where the team will investigate the ocean’s influences on marine glaciers. The two glaciers there (79 N Glacier and Zachariae Isstrom) are both characterised by ocean-driven ice loss and accelerated ice flows, making them contributors to sea-level rise. “We plan to install moorings in order to gauge the sensitivity of ocean-driven glacier melting to changing environmental conditions,” says Kanzow, who’s been pursuing research in the region since 2016. Accompanying geodetic-glaciological studies will be conducted on Greenland. On the one hand, they will assess how the solid ground is rising on extremely small scales, because it is still rebounding from the past weight of ice masses that melted after the last glacial maximum. On the other, they will explore temporal variations in supraglacial lakes; their drainage out to sea can have considerable effects on glacier flow speeds and glacier melting.
For the AWI’s time series dating back to 1997, the expedition team will also deploy measuring devices at the FRAM Observatory between Greenland and Svalbard. And farther to the north in the Arctic Ocean, new instruments will be deployed in the Aurora Vent Field, where they will continually record the seismic activity and physical characteristics of the local heated-water discharges (hydrothermal vents) for the next year. In mid-August, the Polarstern is slated to return to Bremerhaven, from where, following a nearly two-week break, she will depart again, this time bound for the Antarctic.
Interested parties can follow the expedition here with exciting reports and photos from on board as well as position and weather data: https://follow-polarstern.awi.de