Fjord Dynamics and Modulation of Ice/Ocean Exchange

FjordMIX is a NERC funded project (2022-2025) which seeks to advance our understanding of the influence of fjord processes on the interaction of the Greenland Ice Sheet with the ocean, through the development of a novel fjord-modelling framework and its application on an ice-sheet wide scale.

Nuup Kangerlua, a large fjord in southwest Greenland (Photo: Andrew Sole)


The connection between the Greenland Ice Sheet and surrounding ocean is increasingly recognised as a key coupling in the climate system, with major implications for ice loss, sea level rise, and ocean circulation. Much of this exchange takes place through fjords – the deep, long and narrow inlets that join marine-terminating glaciers to the open ocean. By governing the exchange of heat and freshwater, fjord processes play a key role in controlling the interaction between the ocean and ice sheet. Fjords remain poorly understood however, and difficult to incorporate in the large scale modules used to predict climate change and sea level rise.


FjordMIX aims to:

  • Provide the first systematic, Greenland-wide assessment of fjord dynamics and their role in modulating the exchange of heat and freshwater between the ice sheet and ocean
  • Evaluate how this has changed historically, and will continue to evolve through the 21st Century
  • Assess the impacts of this modulation on ice sheet mass loss and regional ocean circulation.


To address the project aims, we need a numerical model capable of simulating fjords processes with a good degree of accuracy whilst remaining computationally efficient enough to apply to fjords on a Greenland-wide scale. To achieve this, we will develop a fjord ‘box model’, which represents key fjord processes in a comparatively simple yet physically realistic way. For this, we will take an existing model and add new functionality, such as glacier and iceberg melting. After a programme of testing and validation, we will apply this model to Greenland’s fjords on a large scale, allowing us to explore the key exchange mechanisms and their impact on the ice sheet and ocean.

Project team


We are delighted that FjordMIX is supported by an international team of experts, including Dr Dustin Carroll (NASA Jet Propulsion Lab/Moss Land Marine Laboratories), Dr Kelly Hogan (BAS), Prof Colm O’Cofaigh (Durham University), Dr Ken Mankoff (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland), Dr An Nguyen (University of Texas at Austin), Dr Sophie Nowicki (University of Buffalo), Dr Jeff Ridley (UK Met Office), Prof Fiamma Straneo (Scripps Institute of Oceanography) and Dr David Sutherland (University of Oregon).