Physics of polar snow and firn

The polar ice sheets play key roles in Earth’s climate system and also serve as natural archives of past environmental conditions. The physical structure of snow is sensitive to changes in the environment; on the cold polar ice sheets where snow does not melt but accumulates over centuries and millennia, the structure of old snow (called firn) and underlying ice is an indicator of past environmental changes. Through measurements on firn and ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica and numerical studies, we are investigating evolution of the firn microstructure and properties and the trapping of gases in firn and ice for improved understanding of past environment and climate.

Faculty contact: Mary R. Albert, Ian Baker, Rachel W. Obbard