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Dr. Christina Hulbe

Christina HulbeBS (Montana Tech, 1990), MS (Ohio State University, 1994), PhD (University of Chicago, 1998)

Phone: +64 (0)3 479 7613
Room: Surveying building, 1st floor, Room 130


I am a geophysicist who studies how and why polar ice sheets change over time. While I got my start in a remote west Antarctic field camp, most of my research today is computational, using mathematical models and remote sensing to investigate modern systems and the recent past. Since arriving at Otago, I have returned to the ice, as the programme lead for an multi-institution, interdisciplinary investigation into the Vulnerability of the Ross Ice Shelf in a Warming World. Our aim is to observe and understand the processes and process interactions that determine how, and how fast, the ice shelf will respond to and participate in climate change (watch this and read this for more). My teaching background is broad; including math fundamentals for geospatial science, polar glaciology and climate change, and spatial analysis of graphic narrative (some of my favourite examples are n the environmental horror comic, Swamp Thing). I am fortunate to keep up my Antarctic teaching through collaboration with the Otago Department of Marine Science and to work with some excellent postgraduate students.


Research Interests

Earth's polar regions are changing rapidly and understanding both the causes and implications of change have great scientific and social relevance. In many cases, there is a big mismatch between the relatively short time spans over which people have been observing polar ice and the much longer time scales for processes at work in those systems. Fortunately, placing contemporary change in the right glaciological context can be helped along using physics-based computational models. That's what interests me: finding interesting situations in the ice (mainly via satellite remote sensing) and then using computational models to write the story of how things got to be that way. Ongoing projects involve geophysical studies of the Ross Ice Shelf and its interaction with other parts of the physical environment, statistical methods to find patterns in ice sheet change that might be used to infer underlying processes in ways not biased by researcher “intuition,” and fracture mechanics in floating ice.


Current projects

  • Antarctic Science Platform, Programme 1: The Antarctic ice-ocean-atmosphere system in a warming world (MBIE, AI)
  • Vulnerability of the Ross Ice Shelf in a Warming World (NZARI interdisciplinary and multi-institutional programme, lead PI)
  • Past and Future Deformation of the Ross Ice Shelf (funded by NZ Antarctic Research Institute, AI)
  • Stretching ice to the limit: New flow laws for ice sheets (Marsden Funded, AI)

Completed projects

  • Decadal scale change in the outlets of Bindschadler and MacAyeal Ice Streams, West Antarctica (funded by NZ Antarctic Research Institute)
  • Change of Habit: Models of Ice Sheet Response to Margin Perturbations (funded by NASA, collaborative with C. Jackson)
  • Model investigation of ice stream/subglacial lake systems (funded by U.S. NSF, co-PI with O. Sergienko)
  • IPY, The Next Generation: A Community Ice Sheet Model for scientists and educators (funded by U.S. NSF, collaborative)
  • Grounding line forensics: The history of grounding line retreat in the Kamb Ice Stream outlet region (funded by U.S. NSF, co-PI with G. Catania)
  • At-Risk:" Ice Shelves and Outlet Glaciers in Antarctica: Using Satellite Data to Evaluate Responses to a Changing Climate (NASA, collaborative with T. Scambos)
  • Using fracture patterns and ice thickness to study the history and dynamics of grounding line migration and shutdown of Kamb and Whillans Ice Streams (funded by U.S. NSF, collaborative with K. Cruikshank and M. Fahnestock)
  • Ice-Shelf Rift Propagation (funded by U.S. NSF)
  • Discharge Variability of Ross Ice Streams Over the Last Millennium (funded by U.S. NSF, collaborative with M. Fahnestock)
  • Ice Shelves and Landfast Ice on the Antarctic Perimeter (NASA, co-PI with T. Scambos)


Current Research Students

  • Martin Forbes (PhD candidate, University of Otago) structural glaciology and rift propagation in the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica
  • Holly Still (MSc candidate, University of Otago) pinning points in the Ross Ice Shelf
  • Emily Tidey (PhD candidate, University of Otago) acoustic imaging of marine habitats
  • Sheng Fan (PhD candidate, University of Otago Department of Geology, co-supervision) laboratory studies of ice deformation

Recent Research Students

  • Cerys Bailey (PhD 2019, University of Otago) Physical processes in a time-dependent salt wedge estuary with a region of repeated sharp curvature
  • Brian Coutts (PhD 2017, University of Otago) Paradigm Shifts in Surveying
  • Scott Waibel (PhD 2016, Portland State University) Instability of the Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica
  • Justin Hiester (MS, 2013) Investigations into the Regional and Local Timescale Variations of Subglacial Drainage
  • Mason Fried (MS, 2013) Grounding Zone Processes: Ice Mechanics and Margin Lakes, Kamb Ice Stream and Whillans Ice Stream, West Antarctica
  • Tracy Ricker (MS, 2012) Arsenic in the Soils of Northwest Oregon; co-adviser with Scott Burns
  • Fiona Seifert (MS, 2012) Grounding line processes on Kamb Ice Stream, West Antarctica
  • Serin Duplantis (MS, 2011) Landslide Inventory Mapping and Dating using LiDAR-Based Imagery and Statistical Comparison Techniques in Milo McIver State Park, Clackamas County, Oregon; co-adviser with Scott Burns
  • Scott Waibel (MS, 2011) Hydrologic budget of the Upper Deschutes Basin, Central Oregon, under changing climatic conditions
  • Scott Braunsten (MS, 2009) Subsurface Structure in the Vicinity of Sheepy Ridge, Upper Klamath Basin, California, using gravity anomalies
  • Adam Campbell (MS, 2009) Numerical Model investigation of Crane Glacier response to collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf, Antarctic Peninsula
  • Christine LeDoux (MS, 2007) A boundary element model for fracture propagation in the Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica
  • Hiram Henry (MS, 2006) Numerical simulation of water flow through the temperate firn aquifer



  • Dean, School of Surveying
  • Chair, Equity Advisory Committee to VCAG

Professional Activities

Awards and Achievements

  • 2019 - 2021, International Glaciological Society, Member of Council
  • 2016, Nye Lecture at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco
  • 2016, Weyprecht Lecture at the SCAR Open Science Conference, Kuala Lumpur
  • 2003 - 2017, Chair, International Glaciological Society Publications Committee
  • 2009 - 2012, International Glaciological Society Vice President
  • 2009, Fulbright Senior Scholar (New Zealand)
  • 2007, 2004, Portland State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, John Elliot Allen Outstanding Teaching Award in Geology
  • 2006-2009, International Glaciological Society, Member of Council

Other Positions and Professional Responsibilities

  • Member of Survey+Spatial New Zealand Council


  • Member of the International Glaciological Society (
  • Member of the Geological Society of America (
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union (
  • Member of Survey+Spatial New Zealand (


Journal of Glaciology, Annals of Glaciology, Antarctic Science, Nature Geoscience, Nature, Science, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research, Computers in Geoscience

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Tidey, E. J., & Hulbe, C. (2019). Sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands seafloor mapping investigations using legacy data. Geosciences, 9(2), 56. doi: 10.3390/geosciences9020056

Smith, I. J., Pauling, A. G., Bitz, C. M., Lilly, K., Langhorne, P. J., & Hulbe, C. L. (2019). Climate change and sea ice linkages. Proceedings of the New Zealand Snow and Ice Research Group (SIRG) Workshop. (pp. 23). Retrieved from

Gragg, K., Forbes, M., Hulbe, C., Leonard, G. H., Rack, W., & Ryan, M. (2019). Glaciological context of the HWD-2 borehole on the Ross Ice Shelf. Proceedings of the New Zealand Snow and Ice Research Group (SIRG) Workshop. (pp. 19). Retrieved from

Hulbe, C. (2019). Dynamics of the marine ice sheet instability on Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica [Invited]. Proceedings of the 7th NZ Fluid Mechanics (FiNZ) Conference. (pp. 8). Retrieved from

Wilson, G., Hulbe, C., Horgan, H., Levy, R., Gorman, A., Caratori Tontini, F., Dagg, B., … Hall, C. (2019). Anatomy of the grounding line of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet at the Kamb Ice Stream. Proceedings of the New Zealand Antarctic Science Conference: Our future in focus. (pp. 26). New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute. Retrieved from

Chapter in Book - Research

Hulbe, C. L., & Payne, A. J. (2001). The contribution of numerical modelling to our understanding of the West Antarctic ice sheet. In R. B. Alley & R. A. Bindschadler (Eds.), The West Antarctic ice sheet: Behavior and environment. (pp. 201-219). Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union.

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Journal - Research Article

Tidey, E. J., & Hulbe, C. (2019). Sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands seafloor mapping investigations using legacy data. Geosciences, 9(2), 56. doi: 10.3390/geosciences9020056

Moore, A. B., Nowostawski, M., Frantz, C., & Hulbe, C. (2018). Comic strip narratives in time geography. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 7(7), 245. doi: 10.3390/ijgi7070245

Tidey, E. J., & Hulbe, C. L. (2018). Bathymetry and glacial geomorphology in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands. Antarctic Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/S0954102018000342

Still, H., Campbell, A., & Hulbe, C. (2018). Mechanical analysis of pinning points in the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/aog.2018.31

Campbell, A. J., Hulbe, C. L., & Lee, C.-K. (2018). Ice stream slowdown will drive long-term thinning of the Ross Ice Shelf, with or without ocean warming. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(1), 201-206. doi: 10.1002/2017GL075794

Waibel, M. S., Hulbe, C. L., Jackson, C. S., & Martin, D. F. (2018). Rate of mass loss across the instability threshold for Thwaites Glacier determines rate of mass loss for entire basin. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(2), 809-816. doi: 10.1002/2017GL076470

Campbell, A. J., Hulbe, C. L., & Lee, C.-K. (2017). The shape of change: An EOF approach to identifying sources of transient thickness change in an ice shelf. Annals of Glaciology, 58(74), 21-27. doi: 10.1017/aog.2017.16

LeDoux, C. M., Hulbe, C. L., Forbes, M. P., Scambos, T. A., & Alley, K. (2017). Structural provinces of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology, 58(75pt1), 88-98. doi: 10.1017/aog.2017.24

Horgan, H. J., Hulbe, C., Alley, R. B., Anandakrishnan, S., Goodsell, B., Taylor-Offord, S., & Vaughan, M. J. (2017). Poststagnation retreat of Kamb Ice Stream's grounding zone. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(19), 9815-9822. doi: 10.1002/2017GL074986

Hulbe, C. L., Scambos, T. A., Klinger, M., & Fahnestock, M. A. (2016). Flow variability and ongoing margin shifts on Bindschadler and MacAyeal Ice Streams, West Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 121(2), 283-293. doi: 10.1002/2015JF003670

Hiester, J., Sergienko, O. V., & Hulbe, C. L. (2016). Topographically mediated ice stream subglacial drainage networks. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 121(2), 497-510. doi: 10.1002/2015JF003660

Hulbe, C. L., Klinger, M., Masterson, M., Catania, G., Cruikshank, K., & Bugni, A. (2016). Tidal bending and strand cracks at the Kamb Ice Stream grounding line, West Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 62(235), 816-824. doi: 10.1017/jog.2016.74

Fried, M. J., Hulbe, C. L., & Fahnestock, M. A. (2014). Grounding-line dynamics and margin lakes. Annals of Glaciology, 55(66), 87-96. doi: 10.3189/2014AoG66A216

Hulbe, C. L., Scambos, T. A., Lee, C.-K., Bohlander, J., & Haran, T. (2013). Recent changes in the flow of the Ross Ice Shelf, West Antarctica. Earth & Planetary Science Letters, 376, 54-62. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.06.013

Waibel, M. S., Gannett, M. W., Chang, H., & Hulbe, C. L. (2013). Spatial variability of the response to climate change in regional groundwater systems: Examples from simulations in the Deschutes Basin, Oregon. Journal of Hydrology, 486, 187-201. doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.01.019

Catania, G., Hulbe, C., Conway, H., Scambos, T. A., & Raymond, C. F. (2012). Variability in the mass flux of the Ross ice streams, West Antarctica, over the last millennium. Journal of Glaciology, 58(210), 741-752. doi: 10.3189/2012JoG11J219

Sergienko, O. V., & Hulbe, C. L. (2011). 'Sticky spots' and subglacial lakes under ice streams of the Siple Coast, Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology, 52(58), 18-22. doi: 10.3189/172756411797252176

Hulbe, C. (2010). Extreme iceberg generation exposed. Nature Geoscience, 3(2), 80-81. doi: 10.1038/ngeo759

Hulbe, C. L., LeDoux, C., & Cruikshank, K. (2010). Propagation of long fractures in the Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica, investigated using a numerical model of fracture propagation. Journal of Glaciology, 56(197), 459-472. doi: 10.3189/002214310792447743

Catania, G., Hulbe, C., & Conway, H. (2010). Grounding-line basal melt rates determined using radar-derived internal stratigraphy. Journal of Glaciology, 56(197), 545-554. doi: 10.3189/002214310792447842

Hulbe, C. L., Wang, W., & Ommanney, S. (2010). Women in glaciology, a historical perspective. Journal of Glaciology, 56(200), 944-964. doi: 10.3189/002214311796406202

Hulbe, C. L., Scambos, T. A., Youngberg, T., & Lamb, A. K. (2008). Patterns of glacier response to disintegration of the Larsen B ice shelf, Antarctic Peninsula. Global & Planetary Change, 63(1), 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2008.04.001

Hulbe, C., & Fahnestock, M. (2007). Century-scale discharge stagnation and reactivation of the Ross ice streams, West Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, F03S27. doi: 10.1029/2006JF000603

Hulbe, C. L., Johnston, R., Joughin, I., & Scambos, T. (2005). Marine ice modification of fringing ice shelf flow. Arctic, Antarctic, & Alpine Research, 37(3), 323-330.

Hulbe, C. L., MacAyeal, D. R., Denton, G. H., Kleman, J., & Lowell, T. V. (2004). Catastrophic ice shelf breakup as the source of Heinrich event icebergs. Paleoceanography, 19, PA1004. doi: 10.1029/2003PA000890

Hulbe, C. L., & Fahnestock, M. A. (2004). West Antarctic ice-stream discharge variability: Mechanism, controls and pattern of grounding-line retreat. Journal of Glaciology, 50(171), 471-484. doi: 10.3189/172756504781829738

Scambos, T., Hulbe, C., & Fahnestock, M. (2003). Climate-induced ice shelf disintegration in the Antarctic peninsula. Antarctic Research Series, 79, 79-92. doi: 10.1029/079ARS07

Hulbe, C. L., Wang, W., Joughin, I. R., & Siegert, M. J. (2003). The role of lateral and vertical shear in tributary flow toward a West Antarctic ice stream. Annals of Glaciology, 36(1), 244-250. doi: 10.3189/172756403781816194

Wang, W., Zwally, H. J., Hulbe, C. L., Siegert, M. J., & Joughin, I. (2003). Anisotropic ice flow leading to the onset of Ice Stream D, West Antarctica: Numerical modelling based on the observations from Byrd Station borehole. Annals of Glaciology, 37(1), 397-403. doi: 10.3189/172756403781815591

Parizek, B. R., Alley, R. B., & Hulbe, C. L. (2003). Subglacial thermal balance permits ongoing grounding-line retreat along the Siple Coast ofWest Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology, 36(1), 251-256. doi: 10.3189/172756403781816167

Price, S. F., Bindschadler, R. A., Hulbe, C. L., & Blankenship, D. D. (2002). Force balance along an inland tributary and onset to Ice Stream D, West Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 48(160), 20-30. doi: 10.3189/172756502781831539

Hulbe, C. L. (2001). How ice sheets flow. Science, 294(5550), 2300-2301. doi: 10.1126/science.1066730

Price, S. F., Bindschadler, R. A., Hulbe, C. L., & Joughin, I. R. (2001). Post-stagnation behavior in the upstream regions of Ice Stream C, West Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 47(157), 283-294. doi: 10.3189/172756501781832232

Hulbe, C. L., Joughin, I. R., Morse, D. L., & Bindschadler, R. A. (2000). Tributaries to West Antarctica ice streams: Characteristics deduced from numerical modelling of ice flow. Annals of Glaciology, 31(1), 184-190. doi: 10.3189/172756400781819969

Scambos, T. A., Hulbe, C., Fahnestock, M., & Bohlander, J. (2000). The link between climate warming and break-up of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Glaciology, 46(154), 516-530. doi: 10.3189/172756500781833043

Joughin, I., Gray, L., Bindschadler, R., Price, S., Morse, D., Hulbe, C., … Werner, C. (1999). Tributaries of West Antarctic ice streams revealed by RADARSAT interferometry. Science, 286(5438), 283-286. doi: 10.1126/science.286.5438.283

Hulbe, C. L., & MacAyeal, D. R. (1999). A new numerical model of coupled inland ice sheet, ice stream, and ice shelf flow and its application to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 104(B11), 25349-25366. doi: 10.1029/1999JB900264

MacAyeal, D. R., Rignot, E., & Hulbe, C. L. (1998). Ice-shelf dynamics near the front of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica, revealed by SAR interferometry: Model/interferogram comparison. Journal of Glaciology, 44(147), 419-428. doi: 10.3198/1998JoG44-147-419-428

Hulbe, C. L., Rignot, E., & MacAyeal, D. R. (1998). Comparison of ice-shelf creep flow simulations with ice-front motion of Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica, detected by SAR interferometry. Annals of Glaciology, 27, 182-186. doi: 10.3198/1998AoG27-1-182-186

Hulbe, C. L., & Whillans, I. M. (1997). Weak bands within Ice Stream B, West Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 43(145), 377-386. doi: 10.3198/1997JoG43-145-42-59

Hulbe, C. L. (1997). An ice shelf mechanism for Heinrich layer production. Paleoceanography, 12(5), 711-717. doi: 10.1029/97PA02014

MacAyeal, D. R., Rommelaere, V., Huybrechts, P., Hulbe, C. L., Determann, J., & Ritz, C. (1996). An ice-shelf model test based on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology, 23, 46-51. doi: 10.3198/1996AoG23-46-51

Hulbe, C. L., & Whillans, I. M. (1994). A method for determining ice-thickness change at remote locations using GPS. Annals of Glaciology, 20, 263-268.

Hulbe, C. L., & Whillans, I. M. (1994). Evaluation of strain rates on Ice Stream B, Antarctica, obtained using GPS phase measurements. Annals of Glaciology, 20, 254-262.

Hulbe, C. L., & Whillans, I. M. (1993). Stop-and-go GPS in Antarctica. Surveying & Land Information Systems, 53(3), 151-158.

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Journal - Research Other

Stevens, C., & Hulbe, C. (2018). Climate scientists explore hidden ocean beneath Antarctica’s largest ice shelf. The Conversation. Retrieved from

Hulbe, C. (2017). Is ice sheet collapse in West Antarctica unstoppable? Science, 356(6341), 910-911. doi: 10.1126/science.aam9728

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Journal - Professional & Other Non-Research Articles

Stevens, C., & Hulbe, C. (2018). Exploring the hidden ocean beneath the Ross Ice Shelf. International Ocean Systems, 22(2).

Hulbe, C. (2016). Antarctic adventures. Surveying+Spatial, (88), 44.

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