It’s not too often we see the polar regions making headline news, but a highly publicized occurrence was the dramatic collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002. 3250 km2 of ice was lost- that’s about twice the size of Greater London, or about the size of Rhode Island for my colleagues in the US, where I currently work. It is thought that significant surface melt on Larsen B (and subsequent lake formation and drainage) played a key role in this sudden ice shelf disintegration and that meltwater formation on other ice shelves may also lead to their instability.
My research career has been dedicated to understanding the surface melt on ice shelves and I am currently developing the first comprehensive model for surface hydrology on Antarctica during my postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Tech. This community-driven and open-access model has been developed based on inputs from observations, providing new insights into surface meltwater distribution on Antarctica’s ice shelves. This enables us to answer key questions about the ice shelves’ past and future evolution under changing atmospheric conditions and vulnerability to meltwater.
This, of course, isn’t a problem unique to Antarctica. In the Arctic, surface melt on Greenland has significant implications for the ice sheet there and I’m excited that colleagues are planning to use my model to learn more about the future of Greenland’s ice. Furthermore, ponds on Arctic sea ice play a key role in seasonal ice melt and break up. Wherever you are in the polar regions, there’s a good chance that meltwater is shaping the landscape around you, or will be in the future.
In addition to my modelling work, I have also spent some time working on the remote sensing of snow on Arctic sea ice so have experienced being part of the observational community too. I’d like to be mostly involved as an IASC fellow acting as in intersection between these communities as I think it’s important for modelling and observational scientists to communicate as much as possible. Although the Fellowship hasn’t quite started out as planned (turns out jet lag is much less fun when you’re not at ASSW in Iceland and you are instead trying to take meeting minutes at 4 am on the sofa!), I’m hugely grateful to have been selected and hope to meet many more members of the Arctic science community in Lisbon in 2021.
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IASC Fellowship Program
The IASC Fellowship Program is meant to engage Early Career Scientists (ECS) in the work of the IASC Working Groups (WGs). IASC Fellows are doctoral or postdoctoral researchers who actively participate in selected activities of the IASC WGs. The total duration of the IASC Fellowship Program is 1+2 years. After the first year the Fellows have an opportunity to stay involved up to 2 more years. The further involvement is individually decided by the WG Steering Group and the Fellow.
From 2020, following the recommendations of the IASC Action Group on Indigenous Involvement (AGII), IASC welcomed also two indigenous Fellows (Inaugural Fellows announced on 27 April 2020). IASC has had Indigenous Fellows before, but this new recommendation (and budget line!) means that there will be at least one every year, as an additional sixth Fellow appointed each year. They will be able to choose whichever IASC Working Group is most of interest and relevance to them.
The IASC fellowship Program opens for new candidates every year around late September and is due mid-November. The call and the selection is held in collaboration with APECS.