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Grad student talk - The effect of sediment on glacial melt dynamics in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Thursday, October 06, 2016, 12:30PM - 1:30PM


Anna Bergstrom


SEEC room S225

The Dry Valleys of Antarctica are the coldest deserts on Earth. The Dry Valley ecosystem has developed unique strategies for existing there, but still relies on glacial melt as the dominant source of water. Summer temperatures are very close to zero degrees Celsius, meaning a slight change in energy balance can result in very large changes in the amount of glacial melt and available water downstream. Since the early 2000s, it has been shown that the glaciers have increasingly lost mass despite no positive trend in summer temperatures. Researchers have suggested a fundamental shift in the function of the glaciers and the mechanisms causing melt, which is hypothesized to be partiall due to reorganization and/or increase in sediment on the glacial surface. While this result has been suggested through modeling, we have yet to observe this through direct measurement. This research will examine the role sediment plays in the melt dynamics of Dry Valley glaciers. Specifically, I will discuss the glacial albedo and the evolution of albedo throughout the season, the distribution and concentration of sediment within the ice profile, as well as future related research on the glaciers. This work will help us better predict glacial melt and contribute to our understanding of how glaciers are linked to the larger Dry Valleys ecosystem.