# Student Projects

## Student Projects 2024

PROJECT 1: Surface energy balance and sensitivity of melt to climate change

STUDENTS: Aschlesha Khatiwada, Maria Schroeder

ADVISOR: Regine Hock

DESCRIPTION: The project involves calculating the surface energy balance using data over one melt season from an automatic weather station on an Alaskan glacier. You will code the energy balance model from scratch (equations will be provided), or you can use a template code in Matlab. The next steps will evolve with student interests. For example, you may compare different parameterizations for various components of the energy balance, explore the sensitivity of energy components and glacier melt to changes in meteorological input variables, or compare results to a degree-day melt model. You can also bring your own meteorological data.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Any programming language, e.g. Matlab or Python. The project can, in principle, also be done using spreadsheets (e.g. Excel)

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Basic knowledge of any of the software requirements above. Prior knowledge on energy balance is not required.

PROJECT 2: A simple flowline model

STUDENTS: Magali Ponds, Claire Wilson

ADVISOR: Regine Hock

DESCRIPTION: We will investigate the behavior of an idealized simple one-dimensional glacier model which simulates the evolution of the glacier with time (length, surface elevation and thickness along the flowline) based on prescribed surface mass-balance gradients and equilibrium line altitudes. You will code the model in Matlab (based on a template and a handout that summarizes all relevant equations) and then explore the behavior of the glacier and resulting response times in response to varying boundary conditions. You may also investigate the sensitivity of the glacier evolution to changes in glacier bed, ice softness etc.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: The project does not require prior ice flow modeling experience, but some basic knowledge of calculus/differential equations and Matlab is needed (or sufficient programing skills in another programing language in which case you would need to be able to code the model without coding help).

PROJECT 3: Applications of a glacier evolution model

STUDENTS: Inger Bij de Vaate, Michael Daniel

ADVISOR: David Rounce

DESCRIPTION: This project will explore how the incorporation of different datasets of glacier change (e.g., in-situ mass balance, geodetic mass balance, snowlines, melt extents) may be used to constrain the calibration of a large-scale glacier evolution model and assess the impact that these additional constraints have on projections of runoff and mass change. You will use the existing Python Glacier Evolution Model (PyGEM) and explore model performance over the historical period using ERA5 reanalysis data for an individual glacier. Future climate forcing will rely on air temperature and precipitation data for various Shared Socioeconomic Pathways from CMIP6. All coding will be done in Python.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Python, Python Glacier Evolution Model (functioning prior to arrival - advisor will provide support to test model setup prior to McCarthy)

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: The project does not require glacier evolution modeling experience, but some basic knowledge of Python is needed (or sufficient programming n skills in another programming language that are transferable).

PROJECT 4: Simple models of subglacial drainage

STUDENTS: Neosha Gupta Narayanan, Annegret Pohle

ADVISOR: Gwenn Flowers

DESCRIPTION: The morphology and efficiency of subglacial drainage are first-order controls on glacier and ice-sheet dynamics. We will use simple (0-D to 1-D) models of coupled distributed and channelized flow to explore the interaction and evolution of these two drainage types and their implications for basal water pressure and sliding. There is also room to explore different representations of distributed and channelized drainage in these models, as well as the basic dynamics of glacier outburst floods.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Python or Matlab

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Physics and calculus, working knowledge of Python or Matlab. Familiarity with differential equations would be helpful.

PROJECT 5: The evolution of sub-shelf channels during ice shelf acceleration and increased basal melt

STUDENTS: Zachary Katz, Chris Larson

ADVISORS: Martin Truffer and Karen Alley

DESCRIPTION: Sub ice-shelf channels are water channels incised into the bottom of an ice shelf. They have been shown - in some instances - to curve in a fashion that is consistent with Coriolis-favored lateral melting. It is simple to derive an equation for the map coordinates of such a channel under steady-state assumptions for ice flow and melt. However, many ice shelves in Antarctica experience increased rates of melt and/or increased flow velocities. This leads to a modification of the shape of these channels. The goal of this project is to explore the various resulting shapes of channels and to investigate whether channel shapes could be used to infer past history of flow and melt.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Python (Numpy, Matplotlib) or Matlab

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Working knowledge of either Python or Matlab programming. A bit of mathematical background (ODEs) is helpful.

PROJECT 6: The isostatic compensation of melt in basal channels

STUDENTS: Logan Mann, Margot Shaya

ADVISOR: Martin Truffer

DESCRIPTION: Sub ice-shelf channels are an ubiquitous feature of ice -shelves. As they cut into the underside of the ice, the surface will sag to accommodate the created stresses. In this project we will explore the rates of compensation and the steady-state surface profiles using the finite element code Firedrake. The project team can explore different questions such as what scale of subglacial features (e.g. stepped terraces) are expressed at the glacier surface.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Python (Numpy, Matplotlib), Firedrake, GMesh, Paraview. Note: It is imperative that you install a working copy of Firedrake before coming to McCarthy.

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Working knowledge of Python. Some background in the Finite Element Method is highly advantageous.

PROJECT 7: Evolution of ice-shelf basal channels through remote sensing

STUDENTS: Dylan Kreynen, Marcelo Santis

ADVISOR: Karen Alley

DESCRIPTION: Basal channels form beneath floating ice shelves where buoyant plumes carve troughs in the ice-shelf base. Hydrostatic adjustment over the channel means these features are visible on the surface, and their evolution can be traced through remote-sensing data. We will use digital elevation models from the Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) to develop methods to delineate basal channel extents, paths, and depths, and use these measurements to assess change over time. If time allows, we will combine these observations with ice-flow velocities from the ITS_LIVE dataset to investigate the relationship between ice-shelf flow and basal-channel shape.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: QGIS and Matlab/Python (Matlab preferred)

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some familiarity with GIS and/or coding will be beneficial.

PROJECT 8: Recent ice flow history of Kennicott Glacier

STUDENTS: Mae Evans, Clara Nyquist

ADVISOR: Mark Fahnestock

DESCRIPTION: Recent ice flow history of Kennicott Glacier from ITS_LIVE data, elevation time series, and satellite image time series: Goals: a) Use long time separation image pair velocity fields to map out patterns of ice flow in the lower half of Kennicott glacier and tributary glaciers. b) Determine patterns of change/map magnitudes, spatial extents, and if possible changes in flow direction. Can the pattern of stagnation in the terminal reach be mapped over time? How is this reflected in the elevation record? Can the extent of the recent pulse of faster flow be determined? Does it show up in the elevation time series? c) Derive a “melt surface age” metric (how long has a parcel of ice been in the ablation zone - e.g. how much time has passed since the ice left the ice fall on Root glacier?).d) What does this record suggest about the next few decades of ice flow in this reach? Students will work with ice flow data and satellite imagery starting with existing Python-based tools and QGIS. SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: QGIS, Python environment with a number of libraries - contact instructor (mfahnestock@alaska.edu) for instructions on a conda-based installation that needs to be done prior to departure because of internet limitations in McCarthy.

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some initial experience with Python and/or other data analysis (matlab, etc) programming helpful.

PROJECT 9: Patterns of seasonal velocity variation in Alaskan glaciers

STUDENTS: Gopika Das K, Mamta K C

ADVISOR: Mark Fahnestock

Patterns of seasonal velocity variation in Alaskan glaciers from ITS_LIVE ice flow time series. Goals: a) Determine the range of ice flow speeds where this kind of seasonal variation can be detected in these data. b) Map the spatial extent of detectable “sawtooth” seasonal variations in flow. c) Use this spatial view and a digital elevation model to determine what elevation ranges show this pattern of speed variation, and whether it varies based on aspect or geographic location. d) Can we say anything about hydrologic controls on basal sliding from these records? Students will work with ice flow data starting with existing Python-based tools.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: QGIS, Python environment with a number of libraries - contact instructor (mfahnestock@alaska.edu) for instructions on a conda-based installation that needs to be done prior to departure because of internet limitations in McCarthy.

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some initial experience with Python and/or other data analysis (matlab, etc) programming helpful.

PROJECT 10: SAR Glacier melt extents

STUDENTS: Mahsa Bahrami, Hannah Phelps

ADVISOR: David Rounce

DESCRIPTION: This project will explore how changes in backscatter from C-band SAR can be used to understand spatial and temporal variations in glacier melt and potentially winter rain-on-snow events. This project will feature a data stack of Sentinel SAR data of a small glacierized region to explore and evaluate trends from 2016 - 2023. Questions to be addressed will include how does the onset of melt change from year-to-year? How the portion of the glacier and duration of melt vary from year-to-year? The geospatial data analysis will be performed using Python with Jupyter Notebooks.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Python

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some initial experience with Python and/or other data analysis (matlab, etc) programming may be helpful.

PROJECT 11: Uncertainties in Greenland mass loss due to uncertainties in accounting

STUDENTS: Yueyi Che, Jakub (Kuba) Oniszk

ADVISOR: Andy Aschwanden

DESCRIPTION: How much mass is the Greenland Ice Sheet losing? Published numbers vary not only due to the use of different data sets and methods, but also due to use of different ice sheet and basin outlines. Sometimes, glaciers and ice caps disconnected from the main ice sheet are included, sometimes they are not. This makes comparison challenging, and a community consensus is needed. In this project, we will explore different methods for basin delineation. Using a python tool to calculate flowlines, we will attempt to quantify the variability in basin size due to uncertainties in ice flow observations. A challenge is that uncertainties posted along velocity observations are most likely underestimating the true uncertainties. The code of the coupled model is currently being update and will be posted here: https://github.com/pism/glacier-flow-tools

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Conda package manager

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Good understanding of python

PROJECT 12: Are ice thickness datasets getting better?

STUDENTS: Dia Martinez Gracey, Simon Jung

ADVISOR: Andy Aschwanden

DESCRIPTION: NASA’s Operation IceBridge (2009-2019) changed our understanding of the subglacial topography beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet. Radar-derived Ice thickness along flightlines have been gridded using kriging and algorithms based on mass conservation, resulting in the now widely-used ”BedMachine Greenland”. A manuscript in 2016 showed that BedMachine Greenland significantly improves the ability of ice flow models to reproduce the flow patterns of Greenland’s outlet glaciers. The study was done using BedMachine version 1, however, the release version is version 5. In this project we will investigate the changes in ice thickness in BedMachine throughout the different versions, and how it affects an ice flow model’s fidelity in reproducing outlet glacier flow. The code of the coupled model is currently being update and will be posted here: https://github.com/pism/glacier-flow-tools

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Conda package manager

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Good understanding of python

PROJECT 13: Drag from waves in the glacier bed

STUDENTS: Max Filter, Niya Shao

ADVISOR: Ed Bueler

DESCRIPTION: How much drag is caused by waves in the bed topography of a glacier? How does this depend on wavelength and magnitude? Does sliding make the effect larger or smaller? These questions can be explored using a numerical Stokes model. We will compare slab-on-slope solutions to cases where the base has added topography or sliding, and measure the modeled velocity change. Because these questions have been addressed by analytical/expansion techniques in earlier literature, we can also use the model results to assess those conclusions. Students will gain experience and understanding as they modify an already-written finite-element solver of the 2D (planar) Glen-Stokes equations.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: You will need a recent version of Python running locally on your machine. Please try to build/install the following: Firedrake, Gmsh, Paraview. (As backup, I'll bring an extra laptop, pre-loaded.)

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Linear algebra and some differential equations are required. Optionally, perhaps a bit of numerical methods or the finite element method?

PROJECT 14: Cliffs, overhangs, damage

STUDENTS: Amy Jensen, Richard Parsons

ADVISOR: Ed Bueler

DESCRIPTION: At the surface of a glacier, and especially on steep margins, our viscous-fluid understanding of glaciers can break down. Near cliffs and overhangs, stresses within the ice can turn into fractures and crevasses. A numerical Stokes model can address where fractures appear, via a model of damage, that is, a model of how stresses cause the deterioration of polycrystalline structure. We will try to model the initial damage, starting from some of the relevant literature, using an already-written finite-element solver of the 2D (planar) Glen-Stokes equations. The solver will connect ice geometry and surface stresses to stresses within the ice, and these stresses can be evaluated as rates of change of damage. By modifying the solver we will explore different geometries, evolution models, and questions as they arise.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: You will need a recent version of Python running locally on your machine. Please try to build/install the following: Firedrake, Gmsh, Paraview. (As backup, I'll bring an extra laptop, pre-loaded.)

REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Linear algebra and some differential equations are required. Optionally, perhaps a bit of numerical methods or the finite element method?

----------------------------------------

Several summer school projects from the past have evolved into scientific publications:

Hager et al., 2022, Persistent, extensive channelized drainage modeled beneath Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. The Cryosphere

Altena et al., 2019, Extracting recent short-term glacier velocity evolution over southern Alaska and the Yukon from a large collection of Landsat data. The Cryosphere

Brinkerhoff et al., 2016, Inversion of a glacier hydrology model. J. Glaciol.