Modelling suspended particulate matter dynamics at an Antarctic fjord impacted by glacier melt

Vera.Fofonova [ at ]


When Antarctic glaciers retreat, high sediment loads from geomorphological and glaciological sources can disturb the biota, especially filtering organisms, and thereby significantly alter the ecology of the Antarctic coast. We applied the Finite volumE Sea-ice Ocean-Coastal Model (FESOM-C), a numerical tool equipped with a sediment module, to simulate for the first time the suspended particulate matter (SPM) dynamics in a fjordic environment at the northern West Antarctic Peninsula, Potter Cove as a case study. Depth-averaged SPM dynamics during a meteorologically representative austral summer (120 days from December to March) considered tidal and atmospheric forcing. Additionally, idealised experiments with passive particles based on post-processing Lagrangian module identified and followed possible material trajectories in Potter Cove. Particle dynamics in the area show them to be primarily tidal and wind-driven, sensitive to bathymetry, with the higher SPM concentrations in the inner cove and the highest hydrographical complexity in the transitional area between the fjordic and marine habitat. The SPM plume covers 5.5 km^2 of the total inlet of 9 km^2, with monthly mean values between 15 and 330 mg/l. The maximum SPM concentrations are during January (790 mg/l), and the maximum plume expansion during February. The model was validated with available in situ measurements. With this study, we can identify areas in Potter Cove (and similar coastal fjordic environments, prospectively) of increasing physical stress by longer SPM residence time and high accumulation rates induced by glacial meltwater. These factors are crucial for pelagic and benthic assemblages dependent on light and food availability, as well sediment deposition.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2022.103734

Cite as
Neder, C. , Fofonova, V. , Androsov, A. , Kuznetsov, I. , Abele, D. , Falk, U. , Schloss, I. R. , Sahade, R. and Jerosch, K. (2022): Modelling suspended particulate matter dynamics at an Antarctic fjord impacted by glacier melt , Journal of Marine Systems, p. 103734 . doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2022.103734

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