Project: Greenland fjord productivity under climate change (GreenShift)

Greenland fjords, modulated by ice-ocean interactions, are among the most productive ecosystems in the Arctic and have sustained the livelihood of local communities in Greenland for millennia. Understanding the impact of the ongoing cryosphere changes on Greenland fjord productivity has important socio-economic implications and it also advances knowledge of the CO2 ocean sink, buffering climate change.

The main goal of this project is to reconstruct and project long-term changes in primary productivity for two contrasting fjord systems impacted by Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) melt. In order to interpret recent changes, we will assess fjord productivity over multi-decadal and centennial time scales encompassing natural variability by bridging modern satellite, historical and paleo-records.

The project will bring together complementary skills from all the Geocenter partners to:

1) Constrain GIS freshwater discharge into the fjords and mass loss since the Little Ice Age (1840 to present)

2) Reconstruct fjord primary productivity spanning the Holocene, with focus on past warm intervals

3) Project changes in fjord productivity harmonized with site-specific numerical modelling of GIS freshwater fluxes into 2100 under different IPCC emission scenarios.

This project will focus on two contrasting Greenland fjord systems (Godthåbsfjord and Young Sound) indicated as dots on the map, alongside with satellite-derived spatial trends in primary production (from the photosynthetic pigment tracer chlorophyll a), and ice sheet velocity.

This project will focus on two contrasting Greenland fjord systems (Godthåbsfjord and Young Sound) indicated as dots on the map, alongside with satellite-derived spatial trends in primary production (from the photosynthetic pigment tracer chlorophyll a), and ice sheet velocity.


This project addresses a research need identified in the IPCC AR5 calling out for long-term data on cryosphere and ocean systems in the context of climate change. Projecting changes in primary productivity will provide policy-relevant insight on the anticipated impacts of climate change on Greenlandic fisheries, which directly addresses the need for sustainable development of marine resources (SDG 14 – Life Under Water), and also contributes to shaping sustainable human consumption patterns (SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production).

Sofia Ribeiro
Senior Researcher
Glaciology and Climate


Geocenter Denmark


Project team
GEUS: Sofia Ribeiro (project leader), William Colgan, Jason Box, Robert Fausto, PhD student (AU)

IGN: Thorbjørn J. Andersen, Aart Kroon

SNM: Kurt Kjær, Postdoctoral researcher

AU: Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz