ArCS Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

International Collaborative Researches
Study the ice sheet, glaciers, ocean, climate and environment in and around Greenland

Theme 2
Variations in the ice sheet, glaciers, ocean and environment in the Greenland region

Dr. Kumiko Goto-Azuma (NIPR)

PI : Kumiko Goto-Azuma (NIPR)Implementation Structure

Study Sites : Greenland ice sheet, Qaanaaq, norhthwestern Greenland

Background of the Research

The Greenland ice sheet and the glaciers, ocean, climate and environment in and around Greenland have been experiencing drastic changes, as has been reported in the IPCC AR5 and the SWIPA reports, and this has been attracting international attention. Mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet could lead not only to sea level rise, but also to abrupt changes in the global climate and ocean circulations, which would influence human societies and economies. However, the mechanisms of these changes and their impacts on climatic and oceanic changes have not been well-understood. The changes occurring in the coastal regions of Greenland have also been affecting the lives of the local communities of Greenland and their cultures, but the details have not been understood. Under these circumstance, we plan to carry out two research items: (1) variability of the Greenland ice sheet and climate, which will focus on Greenland’s interior areas; and (2) ice sheet/glacier-ocean interaction in Greenland, which will focus on the coastal regions of Greenland.

Overview of the Research

Under "Variability of the Greenland ice sheet and climate" research, we participate in the international ice coring project (East Greenland Ice Core Project, EGRIP) and collaborate with Denmark, U.S.A., Norway, France, Switzerland etc. A deep ice core to the bed will be drilled at the onset of the North-East Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS), where horizontal flow velocity is expected to be several tens of meters per year. As NEGIS is the largest ice stream in Greenland, we expect to advance our knowledge on the dynamics and past changes of the Greenland Ice Sheet through analyses of the EGRIP core, borehole observations and modeling studies. We will reconstruct the climate, environment and ice sheet elevation/extent during the early Holocene, which was considered to be warmer than today and should be an excellent analogue to the future Greenland affected by global warming. We will also study the impacts of warming.

"Ice sheet/glacier - ocean interaction in Greenland" research aims to quantify glacier and ice sheet changes in Greenland, with special attention to ice sheet/glacier-ocean interaction. We also investigate the influence of glacier and ice sheet changes on ocean environments and marine ecosystems. Furthermore, we also study the impact of these changes on human activity in the region. To this end, we perform field and satellite observations, sampling and analyses of snow/ice and sea water, and numerical modeling of the ice sheet/glaciers and the ocean in Greenland. Our focus is on the region in the vicinity of Qaanaaq, which is one of the northernmost villages in northwestern Greenland. The goal of this sub-program is to provide the indigenous people of Qaanaaq with useful information for their activities. Accurate data on changing glaciers and the ocean should help them to adjust their lifestyle to the changing environment.

The East Greenland Ice Core Project (EGRIP) will involve drilling a deep ice core at the head of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream. Through ice core analyses, bore hole observations and remote sensing studies, ice sheet dynamics and the past climate/ice sheet variability will be studied. The camp was moved from the previous drill site (NEEM) to the new drill site (EGRIP) in May 2015.

Arctic glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet are losing mass under the influence of the changing ocean. In turn, changes in the glaciers are affecting the ocean environment.

Location of Qaanaaq, in northwestern Greenland. In July, the coast of Qaanaaq village is still covered with sea ice.

The diagram illustrates the research targets of "Ice sheet/glacier - ocean interaction in Greenland". We study the interaction of the ice sheet/glaciers and the ocean, and its impact on coastal environments and human activities in the Arctic.

Cooperative Institutions / International Projects

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI, Germany), University of Bern (Switzerland), University of Calgary (Canada), Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR, Denmark), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Swiss), University of Florence (Italy)
East Greenland Ice Core Project (EGRIP)

Implementation Structure


Name Institutes
Kumiko Goto-Azuma National Institute of Polar Research
Hideaki Motoyama National Institute of Polar Research
Shuji Fujita National Institute of Polar Research
Kenji Kawamura National Institute of Polar Research
Jun'ichi Okuno National Institute of Polar Research
Fumio Nakazawa National Institute of Polar Research
Motohiro Hirabayashi National Institute of Polar Research
Ikumi Oyabu National Institute of Polar Research
Naoko Nagatsuka National Institute of Polar Research
Tomoyuki Homma Nagaoka University of Technology
Morimasa Takata Nagaoka University of Technology
Nobuhiko Azuma Nagaoka University of Technology
Tomotaka Saruya Nagaoka University of Technology
Name Institutes
Shin Sugiyama Hokkaido University
Sumito Matoba Hokkaido University
Yoshinori Iizuka Hokkaido University
Ralf Greve Hokkaido University
Masato Furuya Hokkaido University
Evgeniy Podolskiy Hokkaido University
Kazutaka Tateyama Kitami Institute of Technology
Tatsuya Watanabe Kitami Institute of Technology
Daiki Sakakibara Hokkaido University
Naoya Kanna Hokkaido University
Takuto Ando Hokkaido University


Name Institutes
Wataru Shigeyama The Graduate University for Advanced Studies
Jun Ogata National Institute of Polar Research
Kyotaro Kitamura National Institute of Polar Research
Ayako Abe-Ouchi The University of Tokyo
Fuyuki Saito JAMSTEC
Sergio Faria BC3
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen University of Copenhagen
Ilka Weikusat Alfred Wegener Institute
Hubertus Fischer University of Bern
Paul Vallelonga University of Copenhagen
Name Institutes
Yasushi Fukamachi Hokkaido University
Jun Nishioka Hokkaido University
Shigeru Aoki Hokkaido University
Minori Takahashi Hokkaido University
Yoshimasa Matsumura Hokkaido University
Daiki Nomura Hokkaido University
Atsushi Yamaguchi Hokkaido University
Yutaka Watanuki Hokkaido University
Bungo Nishizawa Hokkaido University
Teruo Aoki Okayama University
Shintaro Yamasaki Kyoto University
Masashi Niwano Meteorological Research Institute
Martin Funk Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Guillaume Jouvet Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Anders Bjork University of Copenhagen
Naotaka Hayashi University of Calgary

Study Sites (Map)

  • Qaanaaq, norhthwestern Greenland

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