January 25th, 2019Glacial retreat in the Canadian Arctic has uncovered landscapes that haven’t been ice-free in more than 40,000 years, and the region may be experiencing its warmest century in 115,000 years, new INSTAAR-led research finds. The study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, uses radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of plants collected at the edges of 30 ice caps on Baffin Island, west of Greenland.
October 16th, 2017A new study has measured the sediment carried by Greenland’s rivers to the ocean, with implications for marine ecosystems, carbon in the ocean, and dynamics of the coastal zone. Led by INSTAAR researchers and published today in Nature Geoscience, the study is the first to quantify in detail the concentrations of sediment in rivers flowing from Greenland to the sea.
January 27th, 2017The recent “atmospheric river” weather pattern that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research.
January 17th, 2017As part of the new year, we took a look at the most talked-about INSTAAR papers in recent months. An Altmetric search showed the top 10 papers with INSTAAR authors that have figured most prominently in the news and in social media conversations.
October 13th, 2016A single season of intense melting that affected Antarctica between 2001 and 2002 offers new insights into the southernmost continent's ecological future and the potential impact of climate change worldwide, according to observations collected in a series of papers and published in the journal BioScience.
August 12th, 2016Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research (AAAR) has announced a Call for Papers for a special issue to be published in 2017: “Environmental Change and Impacts in the Kangerlussuaq Area, West Greenland”
November 2nd, 2015By the 2050s, parts of the Arctic Ocean once covered by sea ice much of the year will see at least 60 days a year of open water, according to a new modeling study led by Katy Barnhart of INSTAAR. Barnhart and her colleagues, including CIRES Fellow Jennifer Kay and INSTAAR Fellow Irina Overeem, set out to investigate the very local impacts of open water expansion patterns in the Arctic. Their work is published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The researchers used climate model simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research-based Community Earth System Model to see how the number of open water, or sea-ice-free, days change from 1850 to 2100 in our planet’s northernmost ocean. They also wanted to understand when open water conditions in specific locations would be completely different from preindustrial conditions.
July 6th, 2015Bruce Vaughn describes the international 2015 expedition to drill an ice core through the Renland Ice Cap, Greenland, in a video by student journalist Paul Mcdivitt.
December 15th, 2014INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share new research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, 15 to 19 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, air quality and fracking, polar climate change, atmospheric chemistry, flood impacts, forests and snow, plants and soils, and past climates.
November 13th, 2014A study involving two INSTAAR researchers takes a new view of glaciers and ice sheets as self-organized critical systems, which may explain why a slight climate change can mean the difference between relatively stable ice and the complete collapse of entire ice shelves.
April 2nd, 2014INSTAAR Senior Fellow and Geological Sciences Professor Emeritus John T. Andrews was named an Honorary Member by the Quaternary Research Association (QRA) at its recent meeting in London.
December 5th, 2013INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share their research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting (http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2013/) held in San Francisco, 9 to 13 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, atmospheric chemistry, geomorphology, rivers and oceans, forests and snow, plants and soils, past climates, flood monitoring, Antarctic volcanoes, coastal erosion, and emissions from energy production.
August 21st, 2013Meet the people behind the science—and art—resulting from INSTAAR research, featured in two recent EARTH Magazine interviews.
July 31st, 2013A new study involving Giff Miller, Jim White, and former students and postdocs suggests that an ice-free Arctic Ocean may have amped up temperatures during the Pliocene Epoch. Year-round ice-free conditions across the Arctic Ocean could explain why the Earth was substantially warmer during the Pliocene Epoch than it is today, despite similar concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the research published online in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
May 16th, 2013While 99 percent of Earth’s land ice is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the remaining ice in the world’s glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two ice sheets combined from 2003 to 2009, says a new study led by Clark University and involving INSTAAR Fellow Tad Pfeffer.
January 24th, 2013New results from the international NEEM deep ice core drilling project on Greenland, analyzing cores going back in time more than 100,000 years, indicates the last interglacial period may be a good analog for where the planet is headed in terms of increasing greenhouse gases and rising temperatures.
November 29th, 2012We are deeply saddened by the loss of glaciologist and director emeritus Mark Meier, who passed away Sunday.
October 26th, 2012Chasing Ice, a documentary by director Jeff Orlowski that has won awards at film festivals around the world, is being released nationally in U.S. theaters starting in mid-November. The film follows photographer and INSTAAR affiliate James Balog as he and his team in the Extreme Ice Survey capture stunning time-lapse footage of melting glaciers, despite balky equipment, sideways terrain, terrible weather, and personal injury.
September 10th, 2012A new University of Colorado Boulder-led study that ties forest “greenness” in the western United States to fluctuating year-to-year snowpack indicates mid-elevation mountain ecosystems are most sensitive to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt. Led by CU-Boulder researcher Ernesto Trujillo and Assistant Professor Noah Molotch, the study team identified the threshold where mid-level forests sustained primarily by moisture change to higher-elevation forests sustained primarily by sunlight and temperature. Being able to identify this “tipping point” is important because it is in the mid-level forests--at altitudes from roughly 6,500 to 8,000 feet--where many people live and play in the West and which are associated with increasing wildfires, beetle outbreaks and increased tree mortality.
April 19th, 2012Six papers published this month in the journal BioScience report on ecological changes at 26 research sites, including INSTAAR's Niwot Ridge site, adjacent to the Mountain Research Station west of Boulder. They indicate that ecosystems dependent on seasonal snow and ice are the most sensitive to changes in climate.
February 2nd, 2012Director Jeff Orlowski spent months following photographer James Balog as he struggled with balky equipment, terrible weather, sideways terrain, and personal injury to acquire time-lapse photography of retreating glaciers. The resulting documentary, Chasing Ice, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival January 21. The 75-minute film received standing ovations after each of ten screenings, and Orlowski took home the Excellence in Cinematography Award for Documentary Films.
January 30th, 2012A new study led by INSTAAR Fellow Gifford Miller appears to answer contentious questions about the onset and cause of Earth’s Little Ice Age, a period of cooling temperatures that began after the Middle Ages and lasted into the late 19th century. According to the study, the Little Ice Age began abruptly between A.D. 1275 and 1300, triggered by repeated, explosive volcanism and sustained by a self-perpetuating sea ice-ocean feedback system in the North Atlantic Ocean.
January 23rd, 2012Mark W. Williams has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Fellowship is conferred on less than 0.1% of the 60,000 AGU members from 148 countries in any given year and recognizes scientists who have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences. The primary criteria for evaluation are major breakthroughs or discoveries and paradigm shifts. Williams was elected "for outstanding research that has made fundamental advances in mountain hydrology and biogeochemistry."
December 15th, 2011One third of the world's population relies on water from the rivers originating in the high mountain ranges of Asia. USAID has commissioned CU-Boulder researchers to assess snow and glacier contributions to this water supply as part of a comprehensive look at freshwater resources in the area.
December 13th, 2011John Andrews has been elected Fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2011. Each year the AAAS Council elects Fellows whose “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.” Andrews, a fellow of INSTAAR and professor emeritus of Geological Sciences, was cited for his leadership and seminal contributions to glacial geology and paleoclimatology in high latitudes for more than 40 years, especially in abrupt climate change and ice sheet dynamics.
December 1st, 2011The Sundance Film Festival announced Wednesday that the film Chasing Ice has been selected for its 2012 slate. The documentary feature, directed by Jeff Orlowski, reveals the work of photographer James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) project. Balog, once a skeptic about climate change, discovers through EIS undeniable evidence of a warming world. Chasing Ice features hauntingly beautiful, multi-year time-lapse videos of vanishing glaciers, while delivering fragile hope to our carbon-powered planet.
March 15th, 2011INSTAAR postdoc Vasilii Petrenko was interviewed by Public Radio International (PRI) while helping drill shallow ice cores on the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica. The interview begins with the the eerie pinging sounds created by dropping leftover ice blocks back into a borehole 20 m (70 ft) deep.
October 20th, 2010INSTAAR affiliate James Balog is a 2010 recipient of a Heinz Award for his dramatic photography to document the rapid depletion of ancient glaciers around the world associated with global warming. He is acknowledged for his unique techniques and creative ability to capture images for pioneering scientific studies.
September 10th, 2010An international science team involving CU-Boulder that is working on the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling project (NEEM) hit bedrock July 27 after two summers of work, drilling down more than 1.5 miles in an effort to help assess the risks of abrupt future climate change on Earth.
July 20th, 2010To the untrained eye, Craig Lee's recent discovery of a wooden hunting weapon might look like a small branch that blew off a tree in a windstorm, but nothing could be further from the truth. Radiocarbon dating showed that the dart is 10,400-years-old, making it the oldest artifact ever discovered melting out of ancient ice. Its age and preservation provide a unique window into late Paleoindian society, including its technology, social protocols, and high-altitude subsistence practices.
May 20th, 2010Detlev Helmig, Jacques Hueber, and Brie Van Dam share their stories of working on the Greenland Ice Sheet for a podcast entitled "Of Snow Forts and Frostbite: Learning to Work (and Play) at the Poles."
April 10th, 2010Detlev Helmig led a team from six countries to summarize initial results of a global monitoring network for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Although still being built, the global VOC network is already yielding insights into how the complex interactions associated with these organic chemicals influence climate and air quality.
September 6th, 2009It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and valued colleague, Mark Dyurgerov passed away on September 5th, 2009.
September 4th, 2009An international team of scientists have reconstructed past climate in the Arctic over the past 2,000 years in unprecedented detail. The team found that Arctic temperatures have reversed from a long-term cooling trend and are now the warmest they have been in at least 2,000 years, bad news for the world’s coastal cities facing rising seas in the coming decades.
August 26th, 2009A new international research effort on the Greenland ice sheet--with Jim White helping lead the U.S. contribution--set a record for single-season deep ice-core drilling this summer, recovering more than a mile of ice core that is expected to help scientists better assess the risks of abrupt climate change in the future.
June 21st, 2009Researchers have produced an exceptionally detailed record of past ice-sheet retreat through a Canadian fjord and, in the process, have provided insight into how present ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica may thin and retreat with continued global warming.
April 23rd, 2009Vasilii Petrenko (INSTAAR postdoc) led a large international team in developing and applying a new technique for analyzing the carbon-14 content of methane in ancient Greenland ice. Their analyses suggest that a spike in the greenhouse gas methane about 11,600 years ago originated from wetlands rather than the ocean floor or from permafrost, a finding that is good news from a global warming standpoint.
September 8th, 2008A CU-Boulder team working at 16,400 feet in the Peruvian Andes has discovered how barren soils uncovered by retreating glacier ice can swiftly establish a thriving community of microbes, setting the table for lichens, mosses and alpine plants.
August 24th, 2008Tad Pfeffer's new book on Alaska's Columbia Glacier represents not only a valuable contribution to the scientific literature, but a history of exploration and a stunningly beautiful photographic record of one of the most studied glaciers on the face of the earth.
June 19th, 2008Jim White and Trevor Popp are part of a 17-person international ice-core team who discovered that two huge temperature spikes prior to the close of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago were tied to rapid and fundamental shifts in atmospheric circulation.
January 30th, 2008Rebecca Anderson, Gifford Miller, Stephen DeVogel, and colleagues have determined that ice caps on the northern plateau of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic are currently smaller than they have been for at least the last 1,600 years, with their extent shrinking by more than 50% since 1958. Even with no additional warming, the ice caps are expected to disappear in 50 years or less.
January 18th, 2008Masters student Tim Bartholomaus with Bob and Suzanne Anderson have published their work on the sliding of Alaska's Kennicott Glacier. Their results show meltwater periodically overwhelms the interior drainpipes of the glacier and causes it to lurch forward, similar to processes that may help explain the acceleration of glaciers observed recently on the Greenland ice sheet that are contributing to global sea rise.
July 19th, 2007Mark Meier led a team of INSTAAR and Russian scientists who found that Earth's mountain glaciers and small ice caps are contributing more to global sea-level rise than previously anticipated--more than the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets combined.
July 10th, 2007John Andrews has been chosen to receive the Distinguished Career Award with the Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division of the Geological Society of America for his legacy in Quaternary geology and geomorphology.
January 11th, 2007Mark Williams and Brian Lazar presented a study of the potential effects of global warming on Park City to more than 1,000 of the town's 8,500 residents, who crowded into the local auditorium to hear that temperatures are projected to rise 6 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and that the snowpack will likely be substantially reduced by the end of the century.
December 18th, 2006Research by INSTAAR scientists shows that small glaciers and ice caps have been contributing more to rising sea levels in recent years than the large Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
December 12th, 2006Diane McKnight has published a children's book, The Lost Seal, that describes an unexpected encounter with a seal pup in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica, more than five miles inland from the sea.
November 12th, 2006David Bahr (INSTAAR Affiliate) and Tad Pfeffer have used time-lapse photography to demonstrate that ski moguls move uphill, a counterintuitive result.
September 10th, 2006John Andrews, Anne Jennings, and colleagues have assembled marine core records of ice-rafted debris (IRD) off North Iceland, East Greenland, and Labrador that are at odds with an earlier and oft-cited study showing a pervasive ~1.5 thousand year periodicity of IRD delivery during the Holocene (last ~11,400 years).
May 20th, 2006John C. Behrendt was elected President of the prestigious American Polar Society in spring 2006.
March 24th, 2006John Behrendt, Jim White, Karen Cozzetto, and several other CU-Boulder scientists shared their experiences in the arctic, Greenland and Antarctic at a March 22 campus event in a prelude to the next International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007.
December 4th, 2005Tad Pfeffer (INSTAAR and CEAE) leads a research group that has documented the rapid tidewater retreat of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska, one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world.
November 28th, 2005Landscape paintings depicting high mountains and polar regions by internationally known University of Colorado at Boulder glaciologist Mark Meier will be on display at the Boulder Public Library and at his home studio from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9 as part of Open Studios.
November 5th, 2005Humans have been tinkering with greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere for at least 2,000 years and probably longer, according to a surprising new study of methane trapped in Antarctic ice cores conducted by an international research team.
April 9th, 2005John Behrendt has published an memoir of his work with the United States Antarctic Research Program in the early 1960s, when the Cold War was at its height and research on the ice sheet was risky.
December 13th, 2004A University of Colorado at Boulder research team has discovered evidence of microbial activity in a rock glacier high above tree line in the Rocky Mountains, a barren environment previously thought to be devoid of life.
October 28th, 2004A number of INSTAARs were interviewed in Rocky Mountain News stories about environmental change in the Colorado alpine.
September 15th, 2004A new, undisturbed Greenland ice deep-core record going back 123,000 years shows the Eemian period prior to the last glacial period was slightly warmer than the present day before it gradually cooled and sent Earth into an extended deep freeze.
August 12th, 2004A team of international researchers working on the North Greenland Ice Core Project recently recovered what appear to be plant remnants nearly two miles below the surface between the bottom of the glacial ice and the bedrock.
June 27th, 2004Joe Stoner participated in a German-led study of marine sediments from the Chilean continental margin that show a clear "Antarctic" timing of sea surface temperature changes.
June 9th, 2004Recovery of a new ice core in Antarctica that extends back 740,000 years--nearly twice as long as any other ice core record--will help scientists better understand the Earth's climate and issues related to global warming, according to INSTAAR Jim White.
October 14th, 2003Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder continued their search in southeast Alaska last summer to pinpoint rapidly melting glaciers and ice fields that hold prehistoric human artifacts before exposure triggers their decomposition.
September 17th, 2003The ability of several of Colorado's prime ski areas to respond to winter drought is threatened by acidic runoff from abandoned mines, according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. Contamination known as acid-rock drainage enters waterways, such as Summit County's Snake River, that are used for making artificial snow. When the snow melts, the water can run into streams not previously polluted, further spreading the contamination, said the research team.
September 4th, 2003A new University of Colorado at Boulder study has shown that microbes living under the tundra snow pack ramp up their populations in late winter, a finding with implications for changing estimates of carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere.
August 11th, 2003Researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder will receive $1.8 million from NASA to compile an online database of the world's glaciers that combines historical records with measurements from the latest technologies in satellite remote sensing.
January 15th, 2003E. James Dixon recorded an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) in January about the research that he and William Manley are conducting on the archaeological potential of snow and ice.
December 26th, 2002Two University of Colorado at Boulder faculty, including INSTAAR's John Behrendt, have been elected fellows of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2002.
October 2nd, 2002Mark Meier, one of the world's leading glaciologists, has been named the winner of the Goldthwait Polar Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to polar research.
August 24th, 2002Tad Pfeffer, Nel Caine, and colleagues measured the depth of the Arapaho Glacier west of Boulder at 22 meters (about 72 feet), in a study relevant to water use and environmental change in the Front Range.
July 22nd, 2002Mark Meier and Mark Dyurgerov have written a commentary for Science magazine that discusses the contributions of glacier melting in Alaska to global sea level rise.
June 26th, 2002James Dixon, William Manley, and colleagues are generating excitement about the archaeological potential of glaciers and snowfields by using Geographic Information System (GIS) models to predict the locations of well-preserved artifacts exposed by recent melting in Alaska.
March 27th, 2002An art exhibit featuring photography by Tad Pfeffer and paintings by Mark Meier ran at the Macky Gallery (Macky Auditorium) on the CU Boulder Campus, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of INSTAAR and the International Year of the Mountain.
February 16th, 2002Mark Meier and Mark Dyurgerov calculate that global sea levels likely will rise more by the end of this century than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001.
February 2nd, 2002Mark Dyurgerov and editors Mark Meier and Richard Armstrong (NSIDC) recently released the most complete glacier regime dataset for worldwide mountain and subpolar glaciers as INSTAAR Occasional Paper No. 55. This paper is not only a data collection, but a global analysis of glacier regime in connection with present-day climate, water balance, sea-level rise, and other environmental issues.
January 16th, 2002A team led by Peter Doran (Univ of Illinois at Chicago) - including INSTAAR scientist Diane McKnight and INSTAAR affiliates Andrew Fountain and Gary Clow - discovered that continental Antarctica has generally cooled during the last 35 years. This cooling is unique among the Earth's continental landmasses, according to a paper published in the online version of Nature. Continental Antarctic cooling, especially the seasonality of cooling, poses challenges to models of climate and ecosystem change.
November 25th, 2001INSTAAR graduate student Hans-Peter Marshall communicated from Antarctica with Casey Middle School students through the Web.
June 6th, 2001High school student Evan Burgess won the 2001 Colorado State Science Fair (Senior division) for his study of glacier moraines using a Geographic Information System (GIS).
December 5th, 2000Ancient ice cores indicate air temperatures in Antarctica rose up to 18 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few decades as the last ice age began to wane some 19,000 years ago, the largest and most abrupt warming spike ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.
December 4th, 2000Alaska's Columbia Glacier appears to be on course to disintegrate and evolve into a spectacular fjord rivaling Glacier Bay in the coming years, according to Tad Pfeffer.
August 9th, 2000Arctic temperatures in the late 20th century, which were the warmest in four centuries, have been accompanied by a variety of other environmental changes, according to a review paper published in mid-July by a group of the world's leading Arctic researchers.
May 2nd, 2000In November 1999, CU-Boulder senior Sarah Blakeslee found herself in a place she never would have imagined. She was standing atop 18,900-foot Antisana Peak in Ecuador, part of an international science team studying a retreating South American glacier.
In The News
Today’s Earth looks a lot like it did 115,000 years ago. All we’re missing is massive sea level rise
February 6th, 2019New research (including from INSTAAR and NSIDC) suggests the planet is already paralleling the most recent major warm period in its past. Now the only question is how fast Antarctica could collapse.
January 25th, 2019Over the next year, The Colorado Independent will examine, season by season, the effects climate change is having on the state’s water supply and the many forms of life it sustains. This story shows the impact of climate change on snow, as winters are warming and mountain regions bear the brunt of the immediate consequences. Features INSTAAR Noah Molotch.
January 16th, 2019ECS Nepal feature by Alton Byers on glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) and how they are being amplified and changed by climate change.
January 11th, 2019Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) are sudden, fast flowing releases of glacial lake water that move downslope as a result of ice- or moraine-dam failures. As water rushes downslope, it picks up rock, mud, and debris, endangering people, infrastructure, fields and livestock in its path. Recent research, published in Landslides, provides new understanding of GLOFs by studying their trigger mechanisms and disaster impacts.
December 14th, 2018The history of our climate is written in ice. Reading it is a matter of deciphering the complex signals pulled from tens of thousands of years of accumulated isotopes frozen miles below the surface of Antarctica. When making sense of the massive amount of information packed into an ice core, scientists face a forensic challenge: how best to separate the useful information from the corrupt. A new paper published in the journal Entropy shows how tools from information theory, a branch of complexity science, can address this challenge by quickly homing in on portions of the data that require further investigation.
November 13th, 2018This NSF Science360 Radio podcast shows that in a warmer world, rain-on-snow events could bring more intense and frequent flooding in some western states. CU Boulder hydrologist Keith Musselman discusses findings and areas most at risk.
CWEST Seminar: Changing river dynamics cause permafrost thaw: Exploration of the coupling of a river
Wednesday, February 20th at 11:00am
SEEC room S228 (Sievers Room)
Thursday, February 21st at 12:30pm
SEEC room S225
Monday, April 22nd at 12:15pm
SEEC room S228
Noon seminar - Neogene tectonic events in the West Antarctic rift system: Implications for landscape
Monday, April 29th at 12:15pm