Studies of icy and snowy landscapes are inextricably linked with learning about our climate system – past, present and future. Ice cores taken from glaciers can give us information about what climate was like in the distant past. Present-day melting rates of glaciers can help us forecast sea-level rise and other hazards. Changes in snowfall can have serious ecological impacts on rivers and streams and consequences for drinking water. Our scientists study all of these aspects of the icy parts of our planet, and more.

Glaciers at both poles contain clues to past climates and have immense effects on our climate today. Faculty in this research area examine glacial structure and melt dynamics, and tie their observations to the global climate system.

Affiliated faculty: Peter Clark, Jenny Hutchings, Alan Mix, Jonathan Nash, Erin PettitEmily Shroyer 

This research area focuses on determining climate drivers in the distant past in order to understand what might happen in the future. Some of these researchers use ice cores containing layers of ancient ice to search for answers about the Earth’s past, and others use tools like mathematical modeling and stable isotope analysis.

Affiliated faculty: Ed Brook, Christo BuizertPeter ClarkJC Creveling, Alan Mix

Ice and snow both affect and are affected by modern-day climate change. Researchers in this area examine ice and snow dynamics across spatial and temporal scales, incorporate these dynamics into climate and weather models, and look at impact of snowmelt on agriculture and other societal water needs.

Affiliated faculty: Jenny Hutchings, Erin PettitMark Raleigh, Karen Shell, Nick SilerJustin Wettstein

Researchers in this area study polar ecosystems and food webs, with emphases on carbon cycling and krill ecology.

Affiliated faculty: Laurie Juranek, Kim Bernard