Kristin is studying specific environmental controls, such as warming temperatures that are driving an increase in ice mass loss through Greenland's tidewater glaciers. She uses remote sensing (satellite imagery and time lapse cameras taking pictures of the glacier terminus) to determine how much of the glacier is experiencing melt and when meltwater exits the glacier and enters the fjord. The timing between melt onset and when the meltwater emerges gives her an idea as to how the meltwater travels through and below the glacier.
Kristin and her colleagues have found that the fastest flowing glaciers episodically release meltwater rather than con¬stantly discharging water through efficient subglacial networks. A buildup of water beneath the glacier creates pressure and causes these glaciers to move faster.
Greenland has the potential to contribute 6-7 meters of global sea level rise predominantly through ice mass lost out of large tidewater glaciers. Currently, these glaciers have discharged enough ice and meltwater to alter the fjord stratification. This change around the Greenland coast can influence the fish and animal populations that are important subsistence resources for local communities.
YouTube: Kristin Schild talks about what's happening underneath the glaciers