An oceanic perspective on Greenland’s recent freshwater discharge since 1850
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScientific Reports. 2019, 9, 17680. 10.1038/s41598-019-53723-z
Instrumental data evidence an accelerating freshwater release from Arctic sea ice export and the Greenland Ice Sheet over the past three decades causing cooling and freshening in the subpolar North Atlantic region. However, evaluating the observed acceleration on a historical oceanic and climatic perspective remains challenging given the short available instrumental time series. Here we provide a marine perspective on the freshwater releases to the ocean since 1850 as reflected in the northern limb of the Subpolar Gyre. Our reconstructions suggest that the recent acceleration tracks back to the 1940s/50s and is unprecedented since 1850. The melting, initiated by the 1920s natural rise in solar irradiance, accelerated in response to a combined effect of natural and anthropogenic forcing factors. We find that Greenland’s freshwater discharge has contributed to a nutrient-driven fertilization of the upper ocean and consequently increased the marine primary productivity since the 1940s/50s.