Heat and Ice in Sermilik Fjord: Novel Observational Techniques Using PIES

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Magdalena Andres1, Fiammetta Straneo1 and Dave Sutherland2, (1)WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (2)University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, United States
A 1-year pilot experiment using pressure-sensor-equipped inverted echo sounders (PIES) was conducted in Sermilik Fjord in eastern Greenland to test non-traditional methods for measuring the time-varying
heat content in high-latitude seas, shelves, and fjords and for detecting the presence of ice. PIES, which are installed on the seafloor below the reach of destructive iceberg keels, present
a promising and inexpensive way to improve understanding of fjord dynamics and shelf-fjord interactions and will increase long-term monitoring capabilities in high latitudes where
remoteness and harsh conditions hamper traditional in situ observation techniques. The use
of PIES to characterize variability at high latitudes is a novel application of an existing
technology, but rests on the same principle as the traditional blue-water uses for PIES: due
to the dependence of sound speed on temperature, the surface-to-bottom round-trip acoustic-travel-time associated with reflections between the PIES and the air-sea interface is an excellent proxy
for heat content in the intervening water column. Furthermore, since reflections from seawater-ice interfaces are also detected when ice
is present, PIES provide a means to characterize the ice component in high-latitude systems. The PIES deployed in Sermilik Fjord (August 2011 – September 2012) resolved changes in heat content at scales ranging from hourly to seasonal. Furthermore, during winter, the PIES logged about 300 iceberg detections and recorded a 2-week period of land-fast ice cover in March. The deepest icebergs in the fjord were found to have keel depths reaching to ~350 m and iceberg speeds averaged about 0.2 m/s but were as high as 0.5 m/s.