Preliminary results are described from a glaciometeorological experiment carried out in the margin (melting zone) of the Greenland ice sheet in the summers of 1990 and 1991. This work was initiated within the framework of a Dutch research program on land ice and sea level change. Seven meteostations were operated along a transect running from the tundra well onto the ice sheet. At the ice edge, humidity, temperature, and wind profiles were obtained with a tethered balloon. On the ice sheet, 90 km from the edge, a boundary-layer research unit, including a sound detecting and ranging system (SODAR) and a radio acoustic sounding system (RASS), was established.
Although focusing on the relation between surface energy balance, glacier mass balance, and ice flow, the experiment has also delivered a unique dataset on the dynamics of the atmospheric boundary layer around the warm tundra–cold ice sheet transition.
Unexpected behavior was found for the surface albedo during the melt season. Lowest values are not found close to the ice edge, which is usual for glaciers, but higher on the ice sheet. Meltwater accumulation due to inefficient surface drainage was found to be the cause for this.
The wind regime is dominated by katabatic flow from the ice sheet. The katabatic layer is typically 100–200 m thick. Close to the ice edge, the flow exhibits a very regular daily rhythm, with maximum wind speed in the afternoon. Farther on the ice sheet, the regime changes, and wind speed reaches maximum values in late night/early morning.
*Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
+Faculty of Earth Sciences, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands