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Research Project Profiles

The mass balance and climate of Brewster Glacier

Research role and activities: I have helped lead a mass balance programme and have been responsible for obtaining atmospheric data on Brewster Glacier, New Zealand over the last 10-years. The long-term glaciological and meteorological observations have enabled glacier-climate interactions on Brewster Glacier and the greater Southern Alps to be investigated using atmospheric and glacier mass balance modelling, as well as providing a platform for a range of remote sensing studies. The climate record is also being used to validate statistical and dynamic downscaling methods for use in mass balance modelling.

Collaborators: Dr. Pascal Sirguey, University of Otago, Dr. Brian Anderson and Professor Andrew Mackintosh, University of Victoria, Dr Jono Conway, Bodeker Scientific, Dr Marlis Hofer, University of of Innsbruck, Austria, Professor Thomas Mölg, Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany and Dr. Andrew Lorrey, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

The response of glaciers on Kilimanjaro to changes in the climate system

Research role and activities: I have organized and led six field expeditions to Mt. Kilimanjaro, and have supported the successful maintenance of two automatic weather stations for over a decade. Energy and mass balance modelling has been used to better understand the climatic controls on retreat of glaciers on Kilimanjaro. Regional atmospheric modelling and the use of output from global climate models has enabled a multi-scale analysis of the atmospheric processes controlling glacier retreat to be resolved. I have also used historical maps and remote sensing to document the areal retreat of the glaciers to support the interpretation of the physical processes responsible for their demise over the last century.

Collaborators: Professor Georg Kaser, University of Innsbruck, Austria, Professor Thomas Mölg, Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, Dr. Doug Hardy, University of Massachusetts, USA and Dr. Pascal Sirguey, University of Otago.

Surface-atmosphere exchanges on the top of the Greenland ice sheet

Research role and activities: I have conducted extensive fieldwork on the Greenland ice sheet, which in part has provided a platform from which to characterise the atmospheric boundary layer in the upper, dry snow zone of the ice sheet. A recent focus has been to investigate the role water vapour exchanges play in controlling variability in mass balance. The main input to the Greenland ice sheet comes from precipitation in the form of snow but small gains from deposition through water vapour exchange also contribute to the overall mass gain at high elevations. We have shown that the mass gain we think is occurring today could easily change to mass loss in the future should warming continue, which has important implications for the “mass household” of the ice sheet and any estimate of global sea level rise.

Collaborators: Professor Konrad Steffen, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Switzerland and Professor Thomas Mölg, Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany.

Air pollution meteorology and landscape assessment for wind energy in New Zealand

Research role and activities: I have been responsible for organising field measurement campaigns with postgraduate students to support numerical modelling exercises to improve our understanding of the atmospheric controls on air pollution and to assess the wind resource at different locations in New Zealand.

Collaborators: Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, University of Otago, and the Otago Regional Council.

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