A wise person once said:

Ice sheets are predictable, but progress in understanding them needs to accelerate at a rate faster than the ice sheets themselves!

Alex Gardner, NASA JPL
At the UB Glacier Modeling Lab, we study Earth’s ice sheets, especially the Greenland Ice Sheet, as well as Antarctica, past ice sheets (e.g., the Laurentide), and smaller land ice masses and mountain glaciers around the world.  We ask questions about ice dynamics, and different interactions between ice flow and liquid water that can influence ice dynamics. 
  • How, when, and where does surface melt water get to the glacier bed, and how does this affect ice dynamics?
  • Where do fractures occur, and why? How deep do they go?
  • How do glaciers interact with the environment around them, including their beds, sidewalls, and ocean?
We write and use numerical models (based on basic physics) to study specific ice sheet processes, including the above.  We incorporate remote sensing data into developing and validating these models.
Ilulissat Icefjord
Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland, where icebergs from Jakobshavn Glacier float by on their journey to the ocean.

Student research opportunities

I am always looking for motivated students with skills in, or interest and motivation in developing skills in, mathematical glaciology (including coding and remote sensing). I am particularly interested in working with students from minoritized backgrounds. Members of the Glacier Modeling Lab work together to create an academically supportive and anti-racist community. My primary goal as a professor is to help my students succeed through growth in thinking capacity, research aptitude, and personal fulfillment in the UB Glacier Modeling Lab.  If a certain research topic interests you, send me an email or drop in to my office to tell me why you’d be a good fit! 

Research topics

These topics are ongoing lines of inquiry, ready to begin on, or both!

  • Model-based investigations of glacier flow
  • Formation of moulins
  • Crevasse field locations and prediction
  • Firn aquifers
  • Formation and life cycle of crevasses on mountain glaciers
  • Flow of surface meltwater
  • Subsurface meltwater
  • Permafrost on the periphery of current or past ice sheets
  • Recent history and near future of particular Greenland glaciers, e.g. Helheim Glacier
  • Model-based investigations of glacier history (this can be related to glacial geology)
  • Surging glaciers
  • Supraglacial streams that incise deep canyons
  • Englacial fracture network
  • Detection of subglacial tills
  • Seismoelectric geophysics on ice
  • Sidewall stresses and ice flow of outlet glaciers (Greenland/Antarctica) or ice streams (Antarctica)
  • GHub, an online data and computing hub centered around Greenland glaciology
  • And more…
Glacier flow in Alaska
Gilkey Glacier has ogives (flow bands) that are like tree rings: annual layers that reveal the pattern of ice flow. The glacier ice is flowing away from us.