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Geophysical Glaciology

Observing and Investigating Ice-Sheet Processes 

The greatest sources of uncertainty in projections of future sea level is the contribution of continental ice sheets. This is due, in large part, to poorly understood processes and conditions at the base of ice sheets that govern their evolution, particularly during periods of rapid retreat. One reason for this is the challenge of observing subsurface conditions within and below kilometers of ice at the temporal and spatial scales over which they evolve. In this area, we work to overcome that challenge by jointly analyzing radar sounding data with geophysical models to test geologically and glaciologically informed hypotheses at scales not possible with data or models alone. Much this work focuses on observing and evaluating the conditions beneath and interactions between the Thwaites and Pine Island Glacier catchments as well as their impact on the behavior and stability of the Amundsen Sea Embayment of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. We are also pursuing broader fundamental questions in glaciology related to the evolution of englacial hydrology, the fine-scale configuration of basal water, topographically unconfined shear margins, basal thermal transitions, ice-sheet crystal fabric, englacial temperature profiles, and the comparative study of paleo and contemporary ice-sheet bed conditions using radar scattering and geostatistics. Each of these projects is focused on investigating physical processes with the potential to significantly affect ice sheet stability and projections future of sea level.

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Related Publications