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Snow, firn, and water on ice sheets
People: Nander Wever, Devon Dunmire, Eric Keenan, Megan Thompson-Munson, Tri Datta, Jan Lenaerts
Tools: SNOWPACK model, satellite remote sensing, machine learning, field observations
Funding sources: NASA ICESat-2, NASA FINESST, NASA IDS, University of Colorado Boulder, BELSPO
Mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets increasingly contributes to global sea level rise. These ice sheets are covered with a thick layer of firn, that is, compressed snow up to hundreds of meters deep. Firn contains pockets of air and can act as a sponge that stores liquid water from melting at the ice sheet surface. Because this storage mechanism breaks the direct link between surface melt and runoff, it can delay and mitigate ice sheet mass loss. However, as the atmosphere warms and surface melt increases, the ice sheet’s sponge slowly saturates. Additonal effects, such as meltwater refreezing in the firn layer, can hasten along saturation and a reduction in storage capacity. These processes can lead to mass loss in Greenland and increase the risk of destabilization of the floating ice shelves that buttress much of Antarctica’s ice. Our group works on understanding firn processes, drivers of firn change, and impacts of atmospheric variables such as temperature and wind, using a combination of numerical (snow) modeling, observations from the field and from satellites, and utilizes novel machine learning methods to detect changes in the ice sheet firn.
Ice sheet precipitation and climate change
People: Tri Datta, Michelle Maclennan, Becca Baiman, Tessa Gorte, Devon Dunmire, Jan Lenaerts
Tools: climate models, atmospheric reanalysis, machine learning, field observations
Funding sources: NSF Antarctic Glaciology, NASA FINESST, NASA Cryosphere, NSF/NERC ITGC, University of Colorado Boulder
Ice sheet - Ocean Interactions
People: Tessa Gorte, Tri Datta, Jan Lenaerts
Tools: climate models, satellite remote sensing
Funding sources: NASA Cryosphere, NASA Sea Level Change Team, University of Colorado Boulder
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