Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

ArCS Blog

Field observations of surface mass balance and meltwater discharge on Qaanaaq Ice Cap, northwestern Greenland

Project team of ArCS Research Theme 2 "Variations in the ice sheet, glaciers, ocean and environment in the Greenland region" began a summer field campaign in Qaanaaq, northwestern Greenland, to investigate ice sheets/glaciers ocean interaction. One of our focuses is Qaanaaq Ice Cap located north of Qaanaaq Village. We have been measuring surface mass balance and ice flow velocity since 2012. This continuous effort provides us important information about glaciers in northwestern Greenland, where field data are sparse. We installed weather stations and time lapse cameras on the ice cap for continuous observations of snow/ice melting and surface conditions. Our data show exceptionally rapid snow/ice melting this summer. We carefully observe weather and snow/ice conditions to investigate the effects of warm summer on shrinking Qaanaaq Ice Cap.

Since 2017, we have also measuring discharge of an outlet stream from Qaanaaq Ice Cap. In 2015 and 2016, this outlet stream flooded, and destroyed a road connecting a settlement and Qaanaaq Airport. The floods are due to increasing amount of snow/ice melt and heavy rain storm. These disasters are recognized as a consequence of changing Arctic climate. To investigate the mechanism of the flood, we develop a runoff routing model based on field data obtained at the stream as well as on the ice cap. The goal of the study is to provide the locals future prospect of the river discharge, which should help them for planning sustainable future.

Until the end of August, we conduct ocean measurements in glacial fjords and landslide survey at a nearby village Siorapaluk. We also organize a workshop with local residents to discuss our research outcome and collaborative research activity in the future.

Ken Kondo (Hokkaido University)


Surface mass balance observation on Qaanaaq Ice Cap


Supraglacial stream on Qaanaaq Ice Cap


Observation of discharge in proglacial river

Qaanaaq observation team 2019 are:
Ken Kondo, Izumi Asaji, Shin Sugiyama, Yefan Wang, Takuto Ando, Yuta Sakuragi

Other posts of Qaanaaq observation
<2016>
Field observation in Qaanaaq, northwestern Greenland (From Qaanaaq 1)
Field campaign in Bowdoin Glacier, Greenland (From Qaanaaq 2)
Oceanographic observation in the Bowdoin fjord near Qaanaaq, northwestern Greenland (From Qaanaaq 3)
Workshop with Qaanaaq village people (from Qaanaaq 4)

<2017>
Research expedition on the northwestern Greenland Ice Sheet 1 - Maintenance of Auto Weather Station -
Research expedition on the northwestern Greenland Ice Sheet 2 - Geophysical survey at Bowdoin Glacier, northwest Greenland (6-17 July 2017) -
Workshop with Qaanaaq village people
Ocean observations in Bowdoin Fjord, Northwest Greenland

<2018>
Ice cap and outlet stream observations in Qaanaaq, northwestern Greenland
Workshop with the residents of Qaanaaq in Greenland
Ocean measurements in Inglefield Fjord and workshop with the residents of Qeqertat Village in Greenland