Estimating the future ice sheet hydropower potential in Paakitsoq, Ilulissat, West Greenland

Andreas P. Ahlstrøm, R.H. Mottram, C. Nielsen, Niels Reeh, S.B. Andersen, Steen Savstrup Kristensen, Erik Lintz Christensen, Lars Stenseng, René Forsberg

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Meltwater running off the Greenland ice sheet yield significant hydropower potentials in catchments bordering the ice sheet, especially in West and South Greenland. Hydropower has been chosen as the most desired source of energy by the Greenland Home Rule, but recent changes in the Greenland ice sheet has emphasized the risk of sudden changes in catchment supply. In this study, we present a thorough investigation of hydropower feasibility at the Paakitsoq basin, near Ilulissat in West Greenland. The catchment is completely dominated by the Greenland ice sheet which provides large quantities of meltwater during the summer season. However, geometrical changes in the ice sheet, for example due to a retreat or an advance of the ice sheet margin, could change the hydrological catchment within the ice sheet. Such a change would have a devastating economical impact as a hydropower plant is a significant long-term investment for an Arctic community of modest population. Here we present a new bedrock and surface map of the Paakitsoq/Swiss Camp part of the Greenland ice sheet and a prediction of the future discharge up to 2080 AD using regional climate model output, dynamic ice sheet modelling and surface melt modelling. The results are aimed at supporting the political decision-making regarding the future energy supply in Greenland.
Original languageEnglish
JournalE O S
Issue number89
Pages (from-to)53
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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