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

Tel +64 3 479 7613
Office: Surveying building, 1st floor, Room 121a


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 returned to the ice, as the programme lead for a multi-institution, interdisciplinary investigation into the Vulnerability of the Ross Ice Shelf in a Warming World. Today I am part of the MBIE-funded Antarctic Science Platform Programmme 1: Antarctic Ice Dynamics. Our aims are to observe and understand the processes and process interactions that determine how, and how fast, ice in 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)
  • Stretching ice to the limit: New flow laws for ice sheets (Marsden Funded, AI)
  • Segregation and stratification in New Zealand's STEM academy

Completed projects

  • Past and Future Deformation of the Ross Ice Shelf (funded by NZ Antarctic Research Institute, AI)
  • 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 (PhD candidate, University of Otago) improving representation of ice stream grounding zone processes in numerical models
  • Emily Tidey (PhD candidate, University of Otago) acoustic imaging of marine habitats
  • Liam McElwain (BSurv Honours, University of Otago) comparative analysis of comic book spatialities across cultures

Recent research students

  • Holly Still (MSc 2020, University of Otago) Mechanics and dynamics of pinning points in the Ross Ice Shelf
  • 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



  • Acting HoD, Department of Human Nutrition, 2023-
  • Dean, School of Surveying, 2013-2022
  • Chair, Equity Advisory Committee to SLT

Professional activities

Awards and achievements

  • 2022 University of Otago Staff Award: Health, Safety and Wellbeing Award (Team)
  • 2020, International Glaciological Society
  • 2019–2021, International Glaciological Society, Vice President
  • 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


  • Member of the International Glaciological Society (
  • Member of the Geological Society of America (
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union (
  • Member of the New Zealand Association of Women in Science (
  • 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


Hulbe, C. L., Still, H., Odolinski, R., Bowman, M. H., & Prior, D. J. (2023). Precise positioning for everybody. Proceedings of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting: Wide. Open. Science. C11C-1052. Retrieved from

Still, H., Odolinski, R., Bowman, M. H., Hulbe, C., & Prior, D. J. (2023). Observing glacier dynamics with low-cost, multi-GNSS positioning in Victoria Land, Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/jog.2023.101

Marshall, A., Dunbar, G., Hulbe, C., & Cary, S. C. (2023). Illuminating Ross Ice Shelf ecosystem connectivity through the lens of the benthic microbial communities. Proceedings of the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Science Conference (NZAASC): Latitudes of Change. (pp. 120). Retrieved from

Still, H., Hulbe, C., Forbes, M., Prior, D., & Bowman, H. (2023). The mechanical response of a shear margin to tidal forcing: Priestley Glacier, Antarctica. Proceedings of the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Science Conference (NZAASC): Latitudes of Change. (pp. 97). Retrieved from

Prior, D., Bowman, M. H., Craw, L., Drews, R., Ershadi, R., Fan, S., Forbes, M., German, T., Gyde, J., … Hulbe, C., … Lutz, F., … Still, H., … Worthington, R. (2023). Kinematics and dynamics of the lateral shear margin of the Priestley Glacier: Implications for understanding ice sheets. Proceedings of the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Science Conference (NZAASC): Latitudes of Change. (pp. 89). Retrieved from

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