Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Cryospheric and Polar Processes Seminar

Cryospheric and Polar Processes Seminar

An Embarrassment of Riches; We now have better topography for the ice on Earth than the land by Paul Morin, Polar Geospatial Center, University of Minnesota

For years, those of us that made maps of the Poles apologised.  We apologised for the blank spaces on the maps, we apologized for mountains being in the wrong place and out-of-date information.  Over the past 10 years the situation improved. An image mosaic of Antarctica was built, airborne RADAR produced an improving view under the Antarctic ice sheet and a constellation of satellites started to stream data at ever higher resolution, at an increasing tempo and even during the long Polar winters. Now a diverse collaboration of US science and intelligence agencies, universities and a geospatial software company has produced REMA - the Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica - and ArcticDEM, using open source software to extract Digital Elevation Models (DEM), or digital topography, from licensed imagery on Blue Waters at a resolution of 2m.  The data have an accuracy of a foot and repeat coverage of 90% of the poles an average of 10 times over 6 years. This project was too large for any one agency, university or company.  It required a large allocation on Blue Waters, 4 satellites that continuously collected sub-meter optical imagery for 5 years, two satellites that produced ground truth, 100Gbit networking and petabytes of storage.  

We never thought that we would ever see a time when the science community has better topography for ice than land and better topography for the Transantarctic Mountains than the Rocky Mountains.  Even we, the creators of REMA, are having a difficult time understanding what we have made. The use of it in logistics and facilities management was a surprise. We are as dumbfounded as anyone at the degree to which subsurface topography is expressed in ice sheet surface features.  Incredibly, the volume of data and temporal depth of the DEM coverage is causing all of us to reassess how we manage and analyze geospatial in general.  We now apologise to the polar science community for a different reason.  They have to keep up. And the current DEMs are only the beginning. We now face an avalanche of imagery and derived products in an increasingly complex landscape of small-sats launched by the dozen.  It is a complex, exciting time.

Morin leads a team of two dozen responsible for imaging, mapping and monitoring the Earth’s polar regions for the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs. Morin is the liaison between the National Science Foundation and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s commercial imagery program.Before founding PGC, Morin was at the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics at the University of Minnesota, and he has worked at the University of Minnesota since 1988. Morin serves as the National Academy of Sciences–appointed U.S. representative to the Standing Committee on Antarctic Geographic Information under the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (ie, the Antarctic Treaty System). One of his current projects is ArcticDEM, a White House initiative to produce a high-resolution, time-dependent elevation model of the Arctic using Blue Waters. Morin’s professional interests include mapping areas of the Earth that are difficult to reach, scientific visualization and using scientific art for formal and informal education. Morin has dozens of publications in a variety of fields including remote sensing, geoscience education, the carbon cycle, and scientific visualization. In 2015 Morin was awarded an honorary doctorate at Colorado College for his outstanding contributions in the Geoscience field. Morin’s art/visualizations have been in numerous publications including National Geographic, Nature and Wired. He has contributed to the BBC/David Attenborough production “Frozen Planet” and is spearheading the effort with Google to improve polar geospatial data, imagery and Street View in Google Earth and Maps. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2019
11:00am to 12:00pm


Research Lab #2, Rooms 153 & 155

Event Type




Mistia Zuckerman

Earth Data Analytics Professional Certificate Project Showcase

Earth Data Analytics Professional Certificate Project Showcase

CU Boulder Earth Lab invites you to the first annual Earth Data Analytics Professional Certificate Project Showcase.

This event will include lightning talks from Earth Data Analytics Professional Certificate students on their capstone projects, followed by a meet and greet. For these projects, students worked with industry partners on topics that range from using machine learning to detect floods to data-driven investigation of global glacier retreat.

This is an opportunity for you to socialize with Earth Lab and our industry partners as well as explore working with a professional student on a capstone project in future years. Current capstone project partners include Precision Hawk, Cloud to Street, World Glacier Monitoring Service, and USGS North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center.

If you cannot make it in person, you can watch the presentations remotely in real-time. Refreshments will be provided. Space is limited. Please RSVP by Wednesday 5/8 to and include if you plan to attend remotely. If you RSVP and your plans change, let us know.


Friday, May 10, 2019
4:00pm to 6:00pm

Event Type

CIRES Members Council Meeting

CIRES Members Council Meeting

The CIRES Members Council met on Monday, May 13 in the private room of Kathmandu. For more details, email CMC Chair, Mistia Zuckerman at



Mistia Zucherman, NSIDC (Chair)

Alessandro Franchin, CSL (Vice Chair & Eec Mtg Rep)

Jonathan Kofler, GML (Secretary)

Eric James, GSL (Membership Chair)

Antonietta Capotondi, PSL (Fellow Meeting Rep)

Eric Adamson, SWPC

Andrew Badger, CIRES IT

Aaron Sweeney, NCEI

Nate Campbell, CIRES IT (Rendezvous Chair)

Mimi Hughes, PSL (Mentoring Chair)

Joe Katich, CSL

Michael Toy, GSL

Dawn Umpelby (Rendezvous co-Chair)

Adam Woods, NCEI

Molly Hardman, NSIDC 

Susan Sullivan (special guest from the office of diversity and inclusion)


About this Meeting

The agenda items of this meeting are chosen to get Susan Sullivan’s input on CU family housing, pay equity, foreign national policy at DSRC, and diversity on the outstanding performance committee.  The meeting is started by Susan Sullivan introducing herself to the CMC. 


Housing Policy and Issues

Susan: a housing survey was sent out to emails.  CIRES members who don't check that email because they use may have missed the email.  As an aside, Onboarding should include cu email and email forwarding for noaa DSRC folks so they don't miss emails like this.

Susan: is there concern about the housing survey being transparent?  did everyone see it?  The survey is aimed at finding out if they are building new housing what would people need.  Previous family housing policy changes happened because of a graduate student survey.  There is a new housing survey that will be an opportunity for CMC to advocate for their concerns. She is open to ideas on how to address the housing issue.  Antoinetta: if there is no additional housing built, then prospective incoming employees will continue to be challenged by lack of affordable housing, and it is a moot point or little can be done to improve things.  Ale: it's not realistic to accommodate everyone. It is a limited resource and therefore the rules that surround this limited resource need to be good.

Susan:  what would be helpful?  Ale: disappointed what happened after his input.  He thought if his ideas and the CMC's ideas were brought to Waleed and Christine that they would campaign to the University on our behalf, but there is no indication that anything happened.  Ale thinks that a connection with the office of postdoctoral affairs might be fruitful because of shared concerns and leveraging their experience.

Susan: The issue could be elevated to the new HR director and set as a priority.  She has spoken with students who are very concerned about the cost and availability of affordable housing. Susan: Are there examples of people who get offers, but won't come because of difficulty finding housing?  Nate: he put out a job offer and the person declined stating housing as the issue.  Susan: maybe we can document some of those cases, have HR bring these cases to Waleed.  Ale: another thing we have been lacking is reaching out to the post doctoral group. Lots of people in CIRES are actually post docs, but called RS1.  If new policies extend housing to 3 years for post docs, will that include RS1?  Dawn:  we could reach out to other organizations such as LASP.  Susan: She doesn't know much more about housing. There is Boulder south where they may build additional housing.  Jon: Action item for housing?  Ale: Check in and try to reach out to the office of postdoctoral affairs.  He doesn't think people at the housing office will be helpful because they haven't been up to this point. Mistia: Maybe if more people raise the issue with housing, they will hear us and we will get some response.  Mimi: sees that having a connection with the office of postdoctoral affairs would be helpful for other reasons in addition to housing.  Susan: Also, we can plan to meet with new HR director.  The J1, J2 issue got lost because of the transitions in HR. It has been difficult to move forward with so much change (BJ, etc).  Action Item:  Ale will make connection with the office of postdoctoral affairs.


Foreign National Policy

Ale: There is a new issue.  Lack of consistency between different divisions. Someone higher up visited DSRC and noted that we weren't enforcing foreign national rules.  Foreign national employees need to be escorted by a federal employee.  Limited work hours.  Mimi: Any visitor who hasn't gone through the security clearance technically falls under the same restrictions.  Limited unescorted access (LUA) permits regions they are allowed to access without supervision.  How can people work?  Lab and office on different floors creates a bigger problem.  17 people in CSL fall under this category.  Mimi:  Policy was inconsistently communicated to people by different feds. There are communication issues in general with federals.  Susan: concerned for morale in general because witnessing it can negatively influence people who may not even be directly affected by the issue.  Antoinetta: you should be able to travel freely and sign yourself in.  Dawn:  is this just a problem at NOAA?  or is this with the feds in general.  Did it come from higher up?.  Joe: his understanding is that it was someone who came in the building and wasn't happy with what they saw.  Mimi:  DSRC has been historically lax. Joe:  this is dehumanizing. People who have been in the building for years are suddenly put under restrictions.  Ale:  if there are secure rooms, they should be locked and don't give keys to people who have restricted access.  Joe:  the person who witnessed was just concerned about the relaxed atmosphere.  There is this concept of drilling down which is Foreign nationals asking questions about what you do is to be perceived as nefarious.  Feds are allowed to ask about what a foreign national does, but not vice versa.  Joe's sentiment is that if he were in a foreign national position under those circumstances, he would not want to be there.  Mimi:  Clarity of message is what's important. Joe agrees.   What about the cafeteria?.  Antoinetta.  it makes people who are in this position and their feds miserable.  Is this an expression of phobia for foreign people?.  Joe:  Atmosphere of phobia for foreign people and dislike for what we do related to climate.   Joe:  it is very reasonable to feel like this is a targeted attack on the science we do relating to climate and foreigners.  Joe asked about this to feds who don't see that as the case.  Joe:  the more people making noise about this, the better.  Susan, Antoineta:  make noise.   Action item:  Ale, have a conversation with Christine to find out her thoughts on writing a statement to Waleed on the issue, and if so, move forward with writing a evaluate the utility.  Provide a status update at the next meeting.


Salary Ranges and Pay Equity

Mistia: other agenda item includes salary ranges and salary equity.  The need for salary range information.  Susan:  would like to look at numbers / data about salaries and see if there is any inequity among race and ethnicity.  She did get to look at compensation in different groups.  The systems for looking at the data that we have are not easy.  If she can get the data from the CU compensation teams, then we can address it.  Within CU HR it is difficult to get.  Jon:  transparency is important.  Susan: we can start and see if we can identify inequities.  The ranges are very large.  $45 - $90k for RS1; Median $70K.  Things need to stay confidential and anonymous.  Ale: rehiring without getting a promotion throws a twist in it?  Nate: consistent career track since 2004.  CIRESHR can run a report on people by CU ID.  Susan: first step, get the data.  It's only 800 people.  Nate:  it could impact career track depending on what we learn.  Maybe 3 career tracks is not enough, etc.  Influence the policy.  Susan: work with what you got. Waleed really wants result (justify your position).  Evaluation has to be part of the scheme.  Antoinetta:  Large differences, some people on soft money.  If there are similar positions, there should be a way to compare.  Mimi: NCAR has transparency and has a better system. Her understanding is that they have pay bands.  They are looking to have more career tracks.  Action item:  Susan, get the data and get someone to help her with that data (what she will need help with is processing the data to answer the questions we want to answer).  Susan is looking at career track.



Nate:  this friday. Some changes made.  Promotion and years in service have been delivered and those jobs at the Rendezvous can be replaced by guiding people to the lunch room.  There will be no photograph competition this year.  Two posters were rejected because they were submitted late.


OPA Committee Member Diversity

OPA committee member: There were 6 men and no women as committee members this year.  how or what should we do?  Should diversity be considered?  Susan:  Often times people putting committee together, if there is a chair, they can consider this.  You want to make sure that your committee is not subject to scrutiny.  There are lots of things to consider.  When Susan puts a committee together, she makes a matrix and tries to make sure organizational and demographic diversity are represented.  OPA member: Do we need to codify anything?  Hazel Bain was a co-author on documentation / guidance for thinking about diversity.  "guide to inclusive meetings".  It is available on the “500 women scientists” website.  


CMC Google Drive Organization

Aaron Sweeney took a first pass look at all the folders on the google drive.  Most of the folders have to do with awards and meeting minutes. He will create an awards folder.  Nate: Assigned a student to scan in a stack of awards documents and that is what is in the folder.

Meeting Adjourned 1:40 pm


Monday, May 13, 2019
12:00pm to 2:00pm


Kathmandu Restaurant



Mistia Zuckerman

CIRES Rendezvous

CIRES Rendezvous

The CIRES Members' Council is pleased to announce the 14th annual CIRES Rendezvous. This institute-wide symposium will take place on Friday, May 17th, 2019 with the aim of bringing awareness to the depth, breadth, and quality of the pacesetting science being done at CIRES. We hope to encourage collaborations that might result in new interdisciplinary research, and to facilitate connections among our many innovative scientists, science support staff, and administrative staff.

This half-day event includes an entire afternoon devoted to CIRES science and poster presentations; we encourage you to participate and present your research here. We are happy for you to present posters that may have been used previously at AMS, AGU, ACS, or other meetings. Of course, you are also free to develop a new poster or present new work.

Poster submissions will submitted online by CIRES members. The deadline for poster submissions is Friday, April 12th, 2019. After the submission deadline, the Rendezvous Committee will survey the number of submitted abstracts from each division and report a final number to the Division Directors who will build an acceptance list. The Rendezvous Committee will strive to accommodate all submissions. We hope to include more than 100 posters. Please note: Maximum poster width is 4 feet.

Venue: UMC, Glenn Miller Ballroom & Terrace and Aspen Rooms


Please allow some time to check-in before the festivities begin.

Poster Setup 10:00am - 11:30am

Check In 11:00am - 11:25am

Luncheon 11:30am - 1:30pm

Poster Session 1:30pm - 4:30pm


Rendezvous is the highlight of annual events for CIRES in that it allows all of us to be together and to enjoy our collective and individual achievements. We hope that you will find time to prepare a poster for the presentation at the Rendezvous, and we look forward to seeing you there!

PLEASE NOTE: RSVP was required for the Luncheon, and is only open to CIRES employees and invited guests. The poster session is open to the public.

For full info:


Friday, May 17, 2019
10:00am to 4:30pm