Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

CIRES Special Seminar: Ellyn Enderlin

CIRES Special Seminar: Ellyn Enderlin

Chasing Ice(bergs): An interdisciplinary remote sensing approach to study changing ice-ocean interactions in Greenland’s glacial fjords

by Ellyn Enderlin - University of Maine Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences

Abstract: Over the last two decades, atmospheric and oceanic warming have driven increases in surface meltwater runoff and iceberg discharge from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Although spatial and temporal variations in surface meltwater runoff can largely be explained by changes in air temperature, the link between iceberg discharge variability and climate change is relatively poorly understood. 
The over-arching goal of my research is to develop an improved understanding of the relative influence of changing air and ocean temperatures as well as the internal controls of glaciers, such as geometry, on iceberg discharge. Using remotely-sensed ice thickness and velocity observations, I’ve shown that spatial and temporal variations in iceberg discharge have resulted in large variability in the contribution of individual glaciers to sea level rise since 2000. My ongoing research projects use a combination of in situ and remotely sensed data to investigate potential explanations for the observed variability. In this presentation I will focus on one aspect of my ongoing research projects: ice-ocean interactions. Specifically, I will show how repeat stereo satellite images can be used to quantify spatial and temporal variations in glacier submarine melting. I will also show how a variety of remotely sensed datasets can be combined to assess the influence of changing ice-ocean interactions on iceberg discharge and the freshwater fluxes from the mélange of icebergs, bergy bits, and sea ice in Greenland’s glacial fjords. The results of these ongoing analyses support the need for the continued development of novel remote sensing techniques and interdisciplinary research efforts to improve predictions of ice sheet change in a warming climate and the associated impacts on global sea level and ocean circulation.

Bio: Ellyn Enderlin is currently a research assistant professor at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences. Her work aims to improve the understanding of the response of glaciers and ice sheets to climate change. She initially became interested in glaciers when she was invited to participate in a field campaign in the Peruvian Andes while working on her B.S. in Environmental Science at Lehigh University. After returning from the field, Ellyn continued her research on Peruvian glacier change using satellite remotely sensed images and digital elevation models to document glacier recession at the end of the 20th century. Throughout her graduate career at The Ohio State University, Ellyn honed her expertise in glaciology and remote sensing through a number of research projects focused on marine-terminating glaciers in Greenland and Iceland. Since completing her M.S. in Geological Science and PhD in Earth Science at OSU, Ellyn has expanded her research interests to include ice-ocean interactions, her geographic focus to include Antarctic and Alaskan glaciers, and her remote sensing expertise to include very high-resolution stereo satellite images. Her ongoing inter-disciplinary research projects utilize a variety of in situ and remotely sensed observations to study glacier change, including hyperspectral satellite images and data products, airborne lidar and ice-penetrating radar observations, GPS, terrestrial time-lapse photographs, and air and ocean temperature observations.


CIRES Auditorium


Refreshments provided