Collaborative Research: Mechanics of Dry-Land Calving of Ice Cliffs
This award supports a comprehensive study of land-based polar ice cliffs. Through field measurements, modeling, and remote sensing, the physics underlying the formation of ice cliffs at the margin of Taylor Glacier in the McMurdo Dry Valleys will be investigated. At three sites, measurements of ice deformation and temperature fields near the cliff face will be combined with existing energy balance data to quantify ice-cliff evolution over one full seasonal cycle. In addition, a small seismic network will monitor local "ice quakes" associated with calving events. Numerical modeling, validated by the field data, will enable determination of the sensitivity of ice cliff evolution to environmental variables. There are both local and global motivations for studying the ice cliffs of Taylor Glacier. On a global scale, this work will provide insight into the fundamental processes of calving and glacier terminus A better grasp of ice cliff processes will also improve boundary conditions required for predicting glaciers' response to climate change. Locally, the Taylor Glacier is an important component of the McMurdo Dry Valleys landscape and the results of this study will aid in defining ecologically-important sources of glacial meltwater and will lead to a better understanding of moraine formation at polar ice cliffs. This study will help launch the career of a female scientist, will support one graduate student, and provide experiential learning experiences for two undergraduates. The post-doctoral researcher will also use this research in the curriculum of a wilderness science experiential education program for high school girls.
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