EARS 46: "STRETCH" Field Methods in Banff and Glacier National Parks

In September, 2008, Professor Bob Hawley and I led a new 2-week field course to teach undergraduate majors about polar and alpine glacier-related research in Banff (Alberta, Canada) and Glacier (Montana, USA) National Parks. We visited 2 glaciers (Peyto and Athabasca) along with many other stops, covering topics including glaciology, glacier travel and safety, ice coring, glacial geology (dating moraines using dendochronology), glacial remote sensing, glacial sedimentology (till till till!! and outwash deposits...), and climate change. Check out some pictures from our first year !

EARS 86: Earth's Past, Present and Future Climate

This course investigates the characteristics and causes of short- (1 yr) to long-term (>1 million yrs) climate change over the past ~400 million years and ~1000 years into the future. Future climate change is currently an active topic of discussion in the scientific community and public policy arena. In order to make informed predictions about Earth’s climate and informed decisions about our society’s response, it is essential to understand how and why Earth’s climate has changed in the past. We will investigate the climate system and its forcing mechanisms over three broad timescales: the tectonic timescale (millions of years), the orbital timescale (6,000-400,000 years), and the sub-orbital timescale (1-1,000 years). We will see that the climate has always been changing due to processes such as plate tectonics and changing geography, variations in the amount of solar energy absorbed in the climate system, and complex interactions and feedbacks between the ocean, atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and cryosphere – many of which are only partially understood. We will then use this understanding to make reasonable (hopefully!) predictions of future climate under various scenarios. View Syllabus

EARS 37: Marine Geology

This course investigates the geology, processes, and paleoarchives hidden beneath the world’s oceans. Major   topics include morphology and history of the sea floor (plate  tectonics), marine geology field and remote sensing techniques, the origin  of ocean crust and sediments, dynamics at marine crustal margins, hydrothermal vents, coastal processes including catastrophic events (hurricanes, tsunamis), and marine records of past climate and sea level conditions. View Syllabus


Student Advising:

Tina Praprotnik, Dartmouth College Senior Thesis

  • Tina is working with me on her senior thesis project investigating mercury (Hg) pollution from Asia over the past several hundred years. She is using the ICP-MS in the Dartmouth Trace Element core facility run by Dr. Jackson to determine the Hg concentration in archive samples from the Mt. Logan ice core (Yukon, Canada), as well as new samples from Denali (Alaska, USA) and Peyto Glacier (Alberta, Canada). She is interested in the history of Hg pollution, particularly from China, and differences in Hg concentrations and sources in western North America. She was able to collect the Peyto Glacier samples herself during a field expedition in the summer of 2008.

Dom Winski, Dartmouth College Senior Thesis

I am co-advising Dom on his senior thesis project with Dr. Hawley at Dartmouth. Dom is investigating recent changes in the volume of Peyto Glacier in Alberta, Canada. He is using ice penetrating radar, generously loaned by Dr. Arcone from CRREL, to determine the modern volume of the glacier tounge and compare it with two previous published volume estimates from the 1980s and the 1960s. He will be using aerial photographs and satellite imagery to interpolate the volume at various intervals between these volume studies to compare with regional temperature and precipitation measurements. Dom was able to collect his own ice-penetrating radar data from the Peyto Glacier during a field expedition in the summer of 2008. 

EriC Kelsey, University of New Hampshire PhD

I am on EriC's PhD committee for his dissertation work with Dr. Wake at UNH on Late Holocene climate change in the North Pacific using ice core stable isotope and precipitation records from the Saint Elias (Eclipse site) and Alaska (Denali) Ranges. Eric will be developing an understanding of the synopic conditions that contibute to the isotope and accumulation records in the North Pacific so as to interpret the 1000+ year ice core records from this region. EriC was able to collect ice cores, snowpit, and ice geophysical data on the Denali massif during a reconaissance expedition in the summer of 2008.

Ben Gross, University of Maine, MSc

I have been working with Ben, who is advised by Dr. Kreutz at UMaine, on his Master's project investigating the history and sources of Pb pollution in the North Pacific. Ben has been measuring Pb isotopes on ice core samples from the Eclipse Site in the Saint Elias Mountains to determine if they have a similar Asian source as the nearby Mt. Logan summit plateau, or if the source is more Eurasian (former USSR) in origin. Ben collected samples for his research from Mt. Logan on an expedition with Gerry Holdsworth in 2007, and was part of the Denali ice core site reconaissance team in the summer of 2008.


Teaching Modules:

As graduate students, Leigh Stearns and I developed a website on using "Flubber" to model the flow of the Malaspina Glacier. Check out our website here.

Leigh has incorporated this into a site on Glacier Education complete with K-12 lesson plans here.