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Glacier retreat alters downstream fjord ecosystem structure and function in Greenland

New publication from Lorenz Meire, Maria Lund Paulsen, Patrick Meire, Søren Rysgaard, Mark James Hopwood, Mikael Kristian Sejr, Alice Stuart-Lee, Koen Sabbe, Willem Stock & John Mortensen


The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is accelerating, with glaciers shifting from marine to land termination and potential consequences for fjord ecosystems downstream. Monthly samples in 2016 in two fjords in southwest Greenland show that subglacial discharge from marine-terminating glaciers sustains high phytoplankton productivity that is dominated by diatoms and grazed by larger mesozooplankton throughout summer. In contrast, melting of land-terminating glaciers results in a fjord ecosystem dominated by bacteria, picophytoplankton and smaller zooplankton, which has only one-third of the annual productivity and half the CO2 uptake compared to the fjord downstream from marine-terminating glacier.