Skip to content

The biogeochemical impact of glacial meltwater from Southwest Greenland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Kate Hendry
  • Veerle A I Huvenne
  • Laura Robinson
  • Amber Annett
  • Marcus P.S. Badger
  • Allison W. Jacobel
  • Hong Chin Ng
  • Jacob Opher
  • Rebecca Pickering
  • Michelle Taylor
  • Stephanie Bates
  • Adam Cooper
  • Grace Cushman
  • Claire Goodwin
  • Shannon Hoy
  • George Rowland
  • Ana Samperiz Vizcaino
  • James Williams
  • Eric P. Achterberg
  • Carol Arrowsmith
  • James Alexander Brearley
  • Sian Henley
  • Jeffrey Krause
  • Melanie Leng
  • Tao Li
  • Jerry McManus
  • Michael Meredith
  • Rupert Perkins
  • E Malcolm Woodward
Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Oceanography
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Jun 2019


Biogeochemical cycling in high-latitude regions has a disproportionate impact on global nutrient budgets. Here, we introduce a holistic, multi-disciplinary framework for elucidating the influence of glacial meltwaters, shelf currents, and biological production on biogeochemical cycling in high-latitude continental margins, with a focus on the silica cycle. Our findings highlight the impact of significant glacial discharge on nutrient supply to shelf and slope waters, as well as surface and benthic production in these regions, over a range of timescales from days to thousands of years. Whilst biological uptake in fjords and strong diatom activity in coastal waters maintains low dissolved silicon concentrations in surface waters, we find important but spatially heterogeneous additions of particulates into the system, which are transported rapidly away from the shore. We expect the glacially-derived particles – together with biogenic silica tests – to be cycled rapidly through shallow sediments, resulting in a strong benthic flux of dissolved silicon. Entrainment of this benthic silicon into boundary currents may supply an important source of this key nutrient into the Labrador Sea, and is also likely to recirculate back into the deep fjords inshore. This study illustrates how geochemical and oceanographic analyses can be used together to probe further into modern nutrient cycling in this region, as well as the palaeoclimatological approaches to investigating changes in glacial meltwater discharge through time, especially during periods of rapid climatic change in the Late Quaternary.

    Research areas

  • biogeochemistry, nutrients, glaciers, primary production, silica cycling



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Accepted author manuscript, 1 MB, PDF-document

    Embargo ends: 1/01/99

    Request copy

    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND

View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups