Student Projects

Student Projects

Students will work in groups of two or three on a glaciology project. Most projects are computer-based but a few may include field work. Students will spend a few hours per day on the project and present the results in a final project workshop on the last day.

PROJECT 1: Kinematic GPS processing
Christian Kienholz, Jean Krug
ADVISOR: Martin Truffer
DESCRIPTION: We will learn how to process GPS data from moving ice to derive glacier velocities and variations thereof. The project involves some minor field work.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab or similar software, Linux operating system
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some familiarity with a Linux/Unix operating system is beneficial. Also we will analyze data in Matlab or similar software.

PROJECT 2: Inverse modeling
Kristopher Darnell, Johannes Feldmann, Bob Fischer
ADVISOR: Martin Truffer
DESCRIPTION: We will explore inverse models to derive conditions at the base of a glacier from surface data. The project requires an interest in mathematical methods and some familiarity with Matlab programing.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some familiarity with a Linux/Unix operating system is beneficial. Also we will analyze data in Matlab or similar software.

PROJECT 3: Remote sensing of glaciers
Pat Burns, Ashley York
ADVISOR: Alex Gardner
DESCRIPTION: Determining long-term glacier volume and mass changes from SPIRIT SPOT 5 HRS DEMs and DEMs generated form historic air photos. Students will learn to co-register DEMs in 3 dimensions and filter their results using ICESat laser altimetry to obtaining meaningful results.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Matlab

PROJECT 4: Evolution of glacial valley long profiles
David Alexander, Lucas Ruiz
ADVISOR: Bob Anderson
Description: We will explore the evolution of glacial long valley profiles in the face of repeated glacial cycles. We will assess the dependence of the resulting valley form on the erosion “rules” used, the history of climate (for example, either simple sinusoids, double sinusoids, or more realistic d18O forcing), and the geometry of the valley planview. We will explore the history of the glacier terminus over long timescales, which puts us in a position to ask how to interpret moraine sequences.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some familiarity with Matlab would help, although we hope to develop the project in such a way that the student can be a simple user father than developer. Some results will be exported to quicktime movies.

PROJECT 5: Surface energy balance and sensitivity of melt to climate change
Wolfgang Gurgiser, Dhiraj Pradhananga
ADVISOR: Regine Hock
Description: The project involves calculating the energy balance at the surface of a glacier comparing different parameterizations for various components. We will explore the sensitivity of energy components and glacier to melt to changes in meteorological input variables. Details will evolve with student interests.
Software requirements: Any programming language, e.g. Matlab. Project can in principle also be done using spreadsheets (e.g. Excel)
Required student background: Basic knowledge of any of the software requirements above

PROJECT 6: Changes in the thermal structure of Storglaciären, Sweden
Christian Bradstrup, Xin Li
ADVISOR: Andy Aschwanden
Description: We investigate the response of the polythermal Storglaciären to atmospheric forcing with focus on changes in the glacier’s thermal structure with the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM).
software requirements: PISM runs on multiple operating systems except Windows. Windows users will have to install a Virtual Machine. Visualization will be done with Python matplotlib. If you don’t know Python, some familiarity with Matlab is sufficient.
Required student background: Familiarity with a Unix-like shell environment (OSX, Linux)

PROJECT 7: Ground-based Radar imaging and interferometric motion
Denis Callen, Ryan Cassotto, Allen Pope
ADVISOR: Mark Fahnestock and Martin Truffer
DESCRIPTION: We will use a portable ground-based imaging radar to measure motion in the lower Kennicott glacier, producing interferograms for both elevation model derivation and ice motion. Involves field work.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab
STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some familiarity with a Linux/Unix operating system is beneficial. Also we will analyze data in Matlab or similar software.

PROJECT 8: Using satellite image time series to illustrate change and measure ice motion
Winnie Chu, Gunther Leguy
ADVISOR: Mark Fahnestock
DESCRIPTION: We will use open source tools from the GDAL package to produce image time series for a glacier system from Landsat data, and use a matlab-based version of the IMCORR software to derive an ice flow field from that imagery.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Some familiarity with a Linux/Unix operating system is beneficial. Also we will analyze data in Matlab.

PROJECT 9: Ice flow over a bumpy bed
Flavien Beaud, Alexander Giesse
ADVISOR: Ed Bueler
DESCRIPTION: The simplest "shallow" ice flow model usually does poorly over bumps in the bedrock. The shallow model can compute a flow field which is not close to the result of the complete model (Stokes). But the simpler model can be improved by computing the "drag" caused by bed topography. We'll build the shallow model and its improved version. We'll see how it compares to published Stokes results.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab or Octave
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Interest in mathematical methods and modeling. Some exposure to programming.

PROJECT 10: Minimal models of subglacial hydrology
Sarah Child, Brad Booch
ADVISOR: Ed Bueler
DESCRIPTION: The Kennicott glacier by McCarthy shows how important subglacial liquid water is to how ice flow varies in time and space. Any reasonable model of the aquifer has these elements: liquid water is conserved, water flows from high to low potential, cavities open by sliding, and cavities/channels close by creep. What can we learn from a model that combines these? What further choices need to be made? How do we solve it numerically?
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Matlab or Octave
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Interest in mathematical methods and modeling. Some exposure to programming.

PROJECT 11: Historical Photogrammetry
Cody Beedlow, Christine Chen
ADVISOR: Tad Pfeffer
DESCRIPTION: Many historical photographs of glaciers are available for mountain and polar regions around the world, but what can be determined from these pictures beyond a general sense of the condition and extent of the glacier? Conventional photogrammetric methods require extensive knowledge of the camera used to acquire the images and additional measurements that are generally unavailable for historical photographs. Nevertheless, a surprising amount of quantitative information can be teased out of photographs purely on the basis of information contained within the image itself. We will work with some selected photographs to learn some simple methods to extract basic camera constraints necessary to construct the simple geometric model required for elementary photogrammetric measurements, and explore the range of information that can be gleaned from single images as opposed to stereo pairs.
SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: None.
REQUIRED STUDENT BACKGROUND: Trigonometry, linear algebra.

PROJECT 12: Vertical gradient of mass balance on glaciers
Alison Cook, Juliana Costi
ADVISOR: Roger Braithwaite
Description: The project involves analysing mass balance data from several glaciers under very different climatic conditions (data provided!).
Software requirements: Data is provided in an Excel spreadsheet and can be analysed in Excel or transferred into the student’s preferred program, e.g. SPSS, SAS etc.
Required student background: Basic knowledge of elementary statistics.
Comment: This project would be suitable for group work where each student could analyse data for different glaciers, using different methods, and the group could then compare and contrast their results.