Polar Science in a Time of Rapid Change

Mary Albert, Thayer School of Engineering

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

The polar regions play key roles in the climate system, and we are now in a time of rapid change in the polar regions that is vividly witnessed in daily accounts in newspapers, television, internet sites, and podcasts that depict polar change, including crumbling ice shelves and melting of the fragile Arctic sea ice. The International Polar Year 2007-2009 has focused attention of scientists around the world on polar issues, and the award of the Nobel Prize to the IPCC has served to heighten the awareness of citizens and policy-makers. Now is an unprecedented time to use new technologies to investigate previously inaccessible realms and to form international partnerships to investigate evidence of polar climate change during a time of changing climate. Recent research and education results from the polar research community during the current IPY will be discussed, including those from scientific traverses across Antarctica, expeditions in the Arctic, ice coring in both polar regions, and discoveries by individuals and small groups.

About the Speaker

Dr. Mary Albert's current research is centered on transfer processes in porous media, including air-snow exchange in the polar regions and in soils in temperate areas. Her research includes field measurements, laboratory experiments, and theoretical modeling. Mary conducts field and laboratory measurements of the physical properties of natural terrain surfaces, including permeability, microstructure, and thermal conductivity. Mary uses the measurements to examine the processes of diffusion and advection of heat, mass, and chemical transport through snow and other porous media. She has developed numerical models for investigation of a variety of problems, from interstitial transport to freezing of flowing liquids. These models include a two-dimensional finite element code for air flow with heat, water vapor, and chemical transport in porous media, several multidimensional codes for diffusive transfer, as well as a computational fluid dynamics code for analysis of turbulent water flow in moving-boundary phase change problems. Mary is also professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, where she serves as thesis advisor to students at undergraduate, Master's, and Ph.D. levels.