Have you ever seen a photo of a glacier (or seen one in person) and thought “wow that is beautiful”? I know I have, and that’s exactly why I became a geologist. But there’s so much more to these giant rivers of ice – there a lot that we still don’t know about how Earth’s ice will respond to climate change, and also how changes in the ice itself will affect the climate.
Glaciers in both Greenland and Antarctica move ice from the ice sheets to the oceans, where icebergs break apart and float into the open water. Changes in the water temperature where the glaciers end up can also alter the speed with which these glaciers move ice from one point to another. But scientists are still uncertain exactly how changes in the ocean temperatures can affect these glaciers.
We need to know more about how these glaciers and the oceans interact. As a student in this Glaciology Summer School, I hope to better understand the physics of glaciers and how we can make better measurements, so that we can understand how things are changing and why – in particular, how these conditions affect the future of the ice sheets.
These glaciers do have a big impact on the ice sheets and the whole Earth. They are powerful forces, and that is what I find so beautiful.
- Denis, University of Texas Austin, USA