Distribution of an Acoustic Scattering Layer, Petermann Fjord, Northwest Greenland

TitleDistribution of an Acoustic Scattering Layer, Petermann Fjord, Northwest Greenland
Publication TypeConference Abstract
AuthorsHeffron, E, Mayer, LA, Jakobsson, M, Hogan, K, Jerram, K
Conference Name2017 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Conference LocationNew Orleans, LA
Conference DatesDecember 11-15
Keywordsacoustic, arctic, DSL, EK80, EM122, Petermann, scattering layer

The Petermann 2015 Expedition was a comprehensive paleoceanographic and paleoclimatological study of the marine-terminating Petermann Glacier and its outlet system in Northwest Greenland carried out July-August 2015. The purpose was the reconstruction of glacial history and current glacial processes in Petermann Fjord to better understand the fate of the Petermann Glacier and its floating ice tongue that acts as a critical buttressing force to the outlet glacier draining about 4% of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Seafloor mapping was a critical component of the study and an EM122 multibeam sonar was utilized for this purpose; additionally, water column data were acquired with this sonar and an EK80 split-beam echosounder.

During the expedition, the mapping team noted an acoustic scattering layer in the EK80 and EM122 water column data which was observed to change depth in a spatially consistent manner that appeared to be related to location. Initial onboard processing revealed what appears to be a strong spatial coherence in the layer distribution that corresponds to our understanding of the complex circulation pattern in the study area, including inflow of warmer Atlantic waters and outflow of subglacial waters. This initial processing was limited to observations at 46 discrete locations that corresponded to CTD stations, a very small subset of the 4800 line kilometers of data collected by each sonar. Both sonars were run 24 hours per day over the 30-day expedition, providing continuous time-varying acoustic coverage of the study area.

Post-cruise additional data has been processed to extract the acoustic returns from the scattering layer using a combination of commercial sonar processing software and specialized MATLAB and Python routines. 3-D surfaces have been generated from the extracted points in order to visualize the continuous spatial and temporal distribution of the scattering layer across the entire study area. Multiple crossings of the same location at different times of day address the question of the temporal stability of the scattering layer while the detailed map of the spatial distribution demonstrates the relationship of the scattering layer to the water masses and implies that continuous acoustic coverage may be a powerful proxy for oceanography.