Mark Serreze photo portrait
Distinguished Professor of Geography • Arctic climate; global implications; and climate warming in the Arctic • Director of NSIDC • Fellow of CIRES • Arts and Sciences College Professor of Distinction • Ph.D. University of Colorado at Boulder, 1989
Physical Geography

Research Interests

Mark C. Serreze is the Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). While his research has encompassed all aspects of our planet's cryosphere - ie snow and ice cover - he has a long standing love of the Arctic. Interests include atmosphere-sea ice interactions, synoptic climatology, boundary layer problems, and climate change. He has conducted field work in the Canadian Arctic on sea ice and icecaps, and on the Alaskan tundra. Efforts over the past ten years have increasingly focused on trying to make sense of the rapid environmental changes being observed in the Arctic.

What's New

Arctic sea ice reflects sunlight, keeping the Arctic cool and moderating global climate. Arctic sea ice has declined dramatically over the past forty years, most strongly in late summer. The extreme seasonal ice extent minima are only part of the story. Recent winters have seen unprecedented heat waves over the Arctic Ocean, and the ocean circulation is changing bringing evermore heat into the region. As the Arctic loses its sea ice cover, the region becomes more accessible to shipping, extraction industries, tourism, and other activities. 

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) provides year-round analysis of Arctic sea ice conditions. Rapid processing of satellite data yields near real-time (one day lag) updates of Arctic sea ice extent. During the first week of each month, and more frequently during the summer melt season, NSIDC scientists provide scientific analysis of evolving sea ice conditions and comparisons with previous years.

More Info

I can trace my interest in snow, ice and very cold water to growing up in Maine, where in most winters there is plenty of all three. Many a childhood afternoon was spent daredevil sledding, skating, or foolishly riding ice floes down the Kennebunk River on the outgoing tide. I come from a science family. Grandpa was involved in the early development of radar. Both of my parents became research chemists. My brother is involved in immunology research and my uncle works with lasers and solar cells. Perhaps there is some genetic aberration at work. When not teaching, studying the Earth's cryosphere, or herding the 70 or so programmers, data specialists and scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, I enjoy golf, gardening, playing the piano and fly fishing.

Recent Courses Taught

  • Spring 2023  GEOG 4271/5271  The Arctic Climate System
  • Fall 2023  GEOG 1001  Environmental Systems: Climate and Vegetation
  • Spring 2023  GEOG 4271/5271  The Arctic Climate System
  • Fall 2022  GEOG 2271  Arctic Environment
  • Spring 2022  GEOG 1001  Environmental Systems: Climate and Vegetation
  • Fall 2021  GEOG 2271  Arctic Environment
  • Spring 2021  GEOG 4271/5271  The Arctic Climate System
  • Fall 2020  GEOG 2271  Arctic Environment
  • Spring 2020  GEOG 1001  Environmental Systems: Climate and Vegetation
  • Fall 2019  GEOG 2271  Arctic Environment
  • Spring 2019  GEOG 4271/5271  The Arctic Climate System

Honors and Awards

  • 2019 Named a University of Colorado Distinguished Professor by the Board of Regents
  • 2014-2017 Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher Award, in recognition of ranking among the top 1% of
    researchers for most cited documents in their respective field.
  • 2017 Named Professor of Distinction, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • Fellow of the American Meteorological Society

Selected Publications

Serreze, M.C., Crawford, A. and Barrett, A.P. 2015. Extreme daily precipitation events at Spitsbergen, an Arctic Island. International Journal of Climatology. doi:10.1002/joc.4308.

Serreze, M.C. and Strove, J. 2015. Arctic sea ice trends, variability and implications for seasonal ice forecasting. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, A373:20140159, 

Serreze, M.C., Crawford, A., Stroeve, J. C., Barrett, A.P. and Woodgate, R.A. 2016. Variability, trends and predictability of seasonal sea ice retreat and advance in the Chukchi Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research, 121, doi:10.1002/2016JC011977.

Serreze, M.C., Stroeve, J., Barrett, A.P. and Boisvert, L.N. 2016. Summer atmospheric circulation anomalies over the Arctic Ocean and their influences on September sea ice extent: A cautionary tale. Journal of Geophysical Research, 121, doi:10.1002/2016JD025161.

Serreze, M.C., Raup, B., Hardy, D.R. and Bradley, R.S. 2017. Rapid wastage of the Hazen Plateau ice caps, northeastern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada. The Cryosphere, 11, 169-177, doi:10.5194/tc-11-169-2017.

Serreze, M.C. and Barry, R.G. 2014. The Arctic Climate System. Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, 404 pp.

Serreze, M.C. 2018. Brave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting North, Princeton University Press (in press).

Publications updated March 2018