The Glaciology Group in the SFU Department of Earth Sciences studies glacier and ice-sheet dynamics, the hydrology of glacierized systems, and the relationship of these systems to climate. Our interests have led us to explore the hydrology and dynamics of alpine glaciers, outburst floods from ice-dammed lakes, glacier surges and glacier-climate interactions. Field-based and modelling techniques complement one another in most of these pursuits. See our research page for details.
2021/01/12: PhD candidate Erik Young has a new paper out on the state and fate of the iconic Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Journal of Glaciology. Thanks to our collaborator Etienne Berthier for assessing the geodetic mass balance of the Kaskawulsh and to Rebecca Latto for her work to determine ice fluxes. Click here for a one-page summary.
2020/12/17: The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union was an on-line adventure this year and the SFU Glaciology Group took full advantage. Erik Young gave a talk on the dynamic adjustment of the Kaskawulsh Glacier to recent mass balance, Giovanni Corti presented a poster on high-resolution offset tracking methods, Andrew Nolan outlined plans to examine the interplay of climate and glacier dynamics in a poster, Tryggvi Unnsteinsson gave a poster on analytical modelling of glaciovolcanic caves and chimneys, and undergraduate Alexi Morin presented a poster on his NSERC-USRA research on error estimation and improvement of modelled glacier thicknesses.
2020/10/16: Doug Brinkerhoff of the University of Montana did a fabulous job hosting the first-ever on-line version of the Annual Meeting of the Northwest Glaciologists in the group's history. Zoom fatigue was diffused by virtual coffee breaks and the first-ever NWG trivia night. Thank you from the whole SFU Glaciology Group!
2020/08/31: 2020 was the first summer in 15 years that we didn't head North for field work. Friends and colleagues retrieved data for us and serviced some of our instruments, while we had a chance to explore glacial landscapes closer to home.
2020/05/24: Thanks to Flavien Beaud for organizing the first VAGUE (Vancouver Area Glaciological Union, Etc) meeting in a long while. It was a great chance to meet some of the new graduate students and catch up with old friends. VAGUE is an informal group of glaciologists from UBC and SFU, including Garry Clarke, Valentina Radic, Christian Schoof, Michele Koppes, Gwenn Flowers and all of the students and postdocs who work with us.
2020/05/01: A big welcome to NSERC-USRA undergraduate summer research student Alexi Morin from Laval, Quebec. Alexi is in the Geological Engineering program at Université Laval. He will be working on geophysically-constrained inversions for glacier bed topography.
2020/02/17: Check out the latest developments in stationary autonomous impulse-radar systems designed by our industry partner Blue System Integration. Our new paper in the Annals of Glaciology describes the design and deployment of these systems, which have operated autonomously for up to a year monitoring englacial and subglacial properties. Click here for a one-page summary.
2020/02/13: This unstable ice-dammed lake may look big, but you are only seeing 20% of the water. The rest is stored in englacial and subglacial reservoirs. Our new study of this lake, led by MSc student Dave Bigelow, is out in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. Click here for a one-page summary.
2020/02/01: The Glaciology Group welcomes Visiting Scholar Clara Steller from Germany for a three-month internship. Clara graduated from the University of Freiburg and completed an undergraduate thesis on the hydrology of three glaciered basins in western Canada with Kerstin Stahl.
2020/01/08: What can you learn from automated mapping of 38 mineral types over 600,000 individual rock/sediment fragments collected from glaciered basins? Check out Jeff Crompton's new paper, Characterization of glacial silt and clay using automated mineralogy, in the Annals of Glaciology. Click here for a one-page summary.
2019/12/9: Graduate students Jeff Crompton and Erik Young presented their research at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. Erik won an Outstanding Student Presentation Award for his poster on Kaskawulsh Glacier mass balance!
2019/11/27: Jeff Crompton successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis entitled The influence of bedrock geology on glacier dynamics in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon, Canada. Congratulations, Dr. Crompton! Jeff will be taking up a Postdoctoral Fellowship from NSERC to work with Martin Truffer (University of Alaska, Fairbanks) starting in 2020.
2019/09/30: It's been exactly 25 years since Gwenn hiked up to Wedgemount Glacier for the first time. She was joined by students Erik Young, Giovanni Corti and Tryggvi Unnsteinsson this fall to check in on this much-loved local mountain glacier. This photo pair (courtesy of John Baldwin) clearly shows the thinning and retreat of Wedgemount Glacier over the years.
2019/09/03: The Glaciology Group welcomes a trifecta of new M.Sc. candidates this fall: Andrew Nolan (left), Giovanni Corti (middle, co-supervised by Bernhard Rabus) and Tryggvi Unnsteinsson (right, co-supervised by Glyn Williams-Jones).
2019/09/03: PhD candidate Erik Young is one of this year's recipients of SFU's Big Data Scholarship. Congratulations, Erik!
2019/08/30: The field team is back! From left to right: Gwenn Flowers, Urs Fischer, Erik Young, Becca Latto, Skyler van Lieshout. It was a busy season with two trips to four glaciers. We were delighted to have two research assistants join us from the Kluane First Nation this year.
2019/08/05: New paper led by MSc Alex Pulwicki in collaboration with Derek Bingham (SFU Statistics) on applying principles of optimal design to snow surveys. Click here for a one-page summary.
2019/04/12: Former SFU Glaciology Group members Laura Thomson, Dave Bigelow and Leif Anderson all converge at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly in Vienna.
2019/03/06: Congratulations to Dave Bigelow on his MSc thesis defense! The role of englacial hydrology in the filling and drainage of an ice-dammed lake, Kaskawulsh Glacier, Yukon, Canada.
2019/01/23: It was a rare treat to attend the Workshop on the Dynamics and Mass Budget of Arctic Glaciers and the IASC Network on Arctic Glaciology Annual Meeting this year in Geilo, Norway.
2018/07/31: Alex Pulwicki's first M.Sc. paper on estimating winter balance at multiple scales has just been accepted by The Journal of Glaciology. Over 9000 direct measurements of snow depth and density were used to pinpoint sources of uncertainty in estimating glacier-wide winter balance. Click here for a one-page summary.
2018/07/22: We are just back from the field where the BSI IceRadar system was used to detect the bed of the Kaskawulsh Glacier beneath 800+ metres of ice. Thanks to Ecologist Team Leader for Kluane National Park and Reserve, Carmen Wong, for joining us on this survey.
2018/07/16: Solicited Comment published in Nature Communications: Hydrology and the future of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
2018/06/30: A big congratulations to PDF Laura Thomson who is off to Queen's this fall to take up her position as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning!
2018/04/25: PDF Leif Anderson's paper Holocene glacier and climate variations in Vestfirðir, Iceland, from the modeling of Drangajökull ice cap has just been accepted by Quaternary Science Reviews. This work is a contribution to the ANATILS project, funded by RANNIS (P.I. Áslaug Geirsdóttir), aimed at integrating paleoclimate reconstructions with numerical modeling of glacier variations to understand abrupt climate change in the North Atlantic region.
2018/04/16: Flavien Beaud's latest paper has just been published in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 'Excavation of subglacial bedrock channels by seasonal meltwater flow' highlights how bedrock erosion by particles entrained in water-filled subglacial channels can initiate the formation of tunnel valleys and inner gorges.
2018/02/26: New paper 'Bedrock fracture characteristics as a possible control on the distribution of surge-type glaciers', led by PhD candidate Jeff Crompton, has just been accepted by the Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. Click here for a one-page summary. Thanks to Steve Israel and the Yukon Geological Survey for supporting this research.
2018/02/20: PhD candidate Jeff Crompton has won the Stan Paterson Scholarship of the Canadian Geophysical Union! This scholarship was endowed by Stan Paterson himself (1924-2013), author of the classic textbook The Physics of Glaciers .
2018/02/08: Congratulations to Dr. Laura Thomson on being awarded both an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue research at SFU on Arctic glacier dynamics, and the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on the quality and capacity of Arctic glacier monitoring through the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zürich, all in the space of a week!
2018/01/31: The SFU Glaciology Group is thrilled to welcome a brand new member! Thanks to Marissa Campbell for our new logo.
2018/01/25: Congratulations to Alex Pulwicki on winning an Outstanding Student Paper Award at the 2017 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for her poster entitled 'Uncertainty in Estimates of Net Seasonal Snow Accumulation on Glaciers from In Situ Measurements' .
2017/11/17: Alex Pulwicki successfully defended her master's thesis entitled Multi-scale investigation of winter balance on alpine glaciers. Congratulations, Alex!
2017/11/03: SFU Postdoctoral Fellow Laura Thomson injects some science into an upcoming freeride film on Axel Heiberg Island.
2017/10/19: New paper in JGR on using ambient noise cross-correlation techniques to monitor water drainage in moulins on the Kaskawulsh Glacier.
2017/09/15: The field team is back from Yukon, after a late-season drainage of Kaskawulsh Lake. MSc candidate Dave Bigelow and others retrieved the instruments that had been monitoring the lake filling and drainage cycle all summer.
2017/09/05: Welcome to PhD candidate Erik Young, the newest member of the Glaciology Group. Erik received his master's degree from McGill with a thesis entitled 'Earthquake slip surface distribution in a lithologically heterogeneous shear zone core'.
2017/09/05: MSc candidate Alex Pulwicki is one of the first recipients of the SFU KEY Big Data Scholarships for her work using statistical methods to estimate winter balance and its uncertainty. Congratulations, Alex!
2017/08/01: Congratulations to Flavien Beaud on winning an Outstanding Student Poster Award at the 2017 meeting of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his poster entitled 'Numerical modelling of esker formation in semi-circular subglacial channels'.
2017/05/26: Flavien Beaud successfully defended his PhD thesis! 'Numerical investigations of subglacial hydrology as a direct and indirect driver of glacial erosion'. Flavien is headed to Caltech with a Postdoctoral Fellowship from SNF to work with Mike Lamb.
2017/05/11: Gwenn Flowers joined SFU Postdoctoral Fellow Laura Thomson, Luke Copland (University of Ottawa) and Miles Eccelestone (Trent University) for a spring field season in the High Arctic on White Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island.
2017/04/03: Congratulations to MSc candidate Dave Bigelow, the latest NSERC scholarship recipient in the Glaciology Group!
2017/03/13: Congratulations to M.Sc. candidate Alex Pulwicki for winning the People's Choice Award in the Faculty of Science Three-Minute Thesis competition and for placing third in the university-wide finals!
2017/2/21: Welcome to PDF Leif Anderson who has moved to SFU to continue his postdoctoral work on the ANATILS collaborative project.
2016/12/10: Welcome to PDF Laura Thomson who has been awarded a W. Garfield Weston Postdoctoral Fellowship in Northern Research.
2016/06/28: Bugs, boats and big data defined our trip to Miller Lake near Pemberton, BC, with UW-Tacoma collaborator Dan Shugar. Thanks to the UW Quaternary Research Center for supporting this pilot project.
2016/06/18: Gwenn Flowers, Jeff Crompton and Alex Pulwicki participated in the International Summer School in Glaciology from 7-17 June 2016 in McCarthy, Alaska, put on by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
2016/05/30: Alex Pulwicki, Gwenn Flowers, Coline Ariagno and Ali Criscitiello are back from a successful spring field campaign to measure snow depth and density across three glaciers in the St. Elias Mountains of Yukon, followed by a pilot project in the icefields with Sian Williams.
2016/04/30: Congratulations to PhD candidate Jeff Crompton and MSc candidate Alex Pulwicki for receiving NSERC Scholarships!
If you are interested in graduate studies, please send an e-mail inquiry to Dr. Gwenn Flowers outlining your interests and how they align with the group's research program. Include your CV and transcripts. Inquiries are welcomed from students of a variety of science backgrounds, including Earth sciences, physics, applied mathematics and engineering. Prospective students must have at least the equivalent of university-level calculus and physics. Find more information on what it's like to be part of the SFU Glaciology Group here and by contacting current and former graduate students. For information about applying, see SFU's Graduate Program in Earth Sciences.