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Durham University

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Greenland in a Warmer Climate: What Controls the Advance & Retreat of the NE Greenland Ice Stream? (NEGIS)

A research project of the Department of Geography.


  • Understanding the impacts of climate change on ice sheets and the subsequent changes to global sea-level over 100 - 1000yr timescales are fundamental scientific and societal challenges. This project will focus on the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS); a key sector of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) because it controls ice flux into the NE Atlantic (an area sensitive to freshwater input) and it holds a sea-level equivalent (SLE) of ~1.4m.
  • This sector of the ice sheet is predicted to be vulnerable to future climatic changes through dynamic ice loss and surface mass balance change and has shown recent signs of accelerated retreat (Khan et al., 2014; Mouginot et al. 2015). It is also known to have undergone dramatic retreat during the Holocene Thermal Maximum (a period of increased air temperatures analogous to that predicted for 2100) (Bennike and Weidick, 2001).
  • This NERC funded project therefore aims to reconstruct the past behaviour of NEGIS in order to calibrate and validate the sensitivity of 3D numerical models that can predict ice stream-shelf dynamics over 100 - 1000yr timescales. Our integrated data-model approach will be relevant to ice sheet-shelf systems in other parts of Greenland and Antarctica, and will help to underpin policy on future sea-level rise.
  • The project will work within a funded European programme 'Greenland Ice Sheet/Ocean Interaction and Fram Strait Fluxes' (GRIFF) and in partnership with the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany and the British Antarctic Survey. The project will start in summer 2016 and run for four years. It will be managed by the Department of Geography, Durham University and supported by two Post Doctoral Researchers. There will be two cruises on the RV Polarstern as well as onshore Expedition in 2016 and 2017.


From the Department of Geography

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