Milne Glacier, northern Ellesmere Island. (c) Andrew K. Hamilton

GO-ICE Research

GO-ICE aims to better understand the links between glaciers, the ocean, and icebergs in the Canadian Arctic at a time of rapid climate change. We are taking an interdisciplinary and trans-methodological approach to answer pressing and fundamental questions at the interfaces of glaciology, oceanography, and atmospheric science. Our research consists of observational, remote sensing, and numerical modelling. We are conducting both regional monitoring surveys and intensive process studies at targeted field sites. Our research topics can be broadly grouped into three main categories: 1) glaciers, 2) oceans, 3) icebergs.

We aim to understand:

  1. How does atmospheric and ocean warming influence the mass balance and motion of tidewater glaciers, and how does this compare to changes in land-terminating glaciers?
  2. Are regional changes in the properties of ocean waters in contact with glaciers, ice shelves and icebergs controlling the stability of these ice bodies?
  3. What is the distribution of glacier mass loss to the ocean, through both meltwater runoff and the drift and deterioration of icebergs, and how does this freshwater impact ocean stratification and circulation?

Research Methods

To address these objectives, we are developing a new community- and Canadian Rangers-based ocean monitoring program, continuing comprehensive measurements at field sites on Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands, utilizing new remote sensing datasets to provide regional records of ice motion, mapping ocean bathymetry and ocean properties from research vessels, and deploying satellite beacons to track iceberg drift. In turn, these observations are being used to run high-resolution numerical models of glacial hydrology and ocean circulation that are examining controls on ice dynamics and mass loss of glaciers, investigating ocean forcing of tidewater glaciers in the CAA, improving iceberg drift models, and assessing ship-iceberg collision hazards in a warming climate.

Field Sites

GO-ICE has three main field sites where targeted processes studies are underway. These are:

  • Milne Fiord, northern Ellesmere Island
  • Expedition Fiord, Axel Heiberg Island
  • Talbot Inlet, southeast Ellesmere Island

Regional surveys are being conducted by:

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