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

Alison Banwell

Research Interests

My current work involves a combination of fieldwork, modeling, and satellite remote sensing to investigate surface meltwater processes on Antarctic ice shelves, and the effects of those processes on ice-shelf stability. This is important because the most likely way for the Antarctic Ice Sheet to contribute to sea level rise over the coming centuries involves the breakup of its ice shelves, which buttress approximately 75% of the ice sheet’s edge and prevent the rapid discharge of inland ice into the ocean. A trigger of ice-shelf disintegration is thought to be surface-stress variations associated with surface meltwater ponding and draining, causing ice-shelf weakness, flexure, and potential fracture. For example, the widespread break-up of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002 may have been triggered by the near-simulataneous drainage of over 2500 surface lakes.

View Publications

  • Dunmire D; Banwell AF; Wever N; Lenaerts JTM; Datta RT. (Jun 2021). Contrasting regional variability of buried meltwater extent over 2 years across the Greenland Ice Sheet. The Cryosphere , 15(6), 2983-3005. 10.5194/tc-15-2983-2021
  • MacAyeal DR; Sergienko OV; Banwell AF; Macdonald GJ; Willis IC; Stevens LA. (Apr 2021). Treatment of ice-shelf evolution combining flow and flexure. Journal of Glaciology , 1-18. 10.1017/jog.2021.39
  • Banwell AF; Datta RT; Dell RL; Moussavi M; Brucker L; Picard G; Shuman CA; Stevens LA. (Feb 2021). The 32-year record-high surface melt in 2019/2020 on the northern George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula. The Cryosphere , 15(2), 909-925. 10.5194/tc-15-909-2021
  • Dunmire, D., Banwell, A. F., Lenaerts, J. T. M., Datta, R. T. (Jan 2021). Contrasting regional variability of buried meltwater extent over two years across the Greenland Ice Sheet. 10.5194/tc-2021-3
  • Dunmire D; Lenaerts JTM; Banwell AF; Wever N; Shragge J; Lhermitte S; Drews R; Pattyn F; Hansen JSS; Willis IC. (Aug 2020). Observations of Buried Lake Drainage on the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Geophysical Research Letters , 47(15). 10.1029/2020GL087970
  • Dell R; Arnold N; Willis I; Banwell A; Williamson A; Pritchard H; Orr A. (Jul 2020). Lateral meltwater transfer across an Antarctic ice shelf. The Cryosphere , 14(7), 2313-2330. 10.5194/tc-14-2313-2020
  • Law R; Arnold N; Benedek C; Tedesco M; Banwell A; Willis I. (Jun 2020). Over-winter persistence of supraglacial lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet: results and insights from a new model. Journal of Glaciology , 66(257), 362-372. 10.1017/jog.2020.7
  • MacAyeal DR; Willis IC; Banwell AF; Macdonald GJ; Goodsell B. (Apr 2020). Diurnal lake-level cycles on ice shelves driven by meltwater input and ocean tidal tilt. Journal of Glaciology , 66(256), 231-247. 10.1017/jog.2019.98
  • Robel, AA; Banwell, AF. (16-Nov 2019). A Speed Limit on Ice Shelf Collapse Through Hydrofracture. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 46(21), 12092-12100. 10.1029/2019GL084397
  • Siegert, M; Atkinson, A; Banwell, A; Brandon, M; Convey, P; Davies, B; Downie, R; Edwards, T; Hubbard, B; Marshall, G; Rogelj, J; Rumble, J; Stroeve, J; Vaughan, D. (28-Jun 2019). The Antarctic Peninsula Under a 1.5 degrees C Global Warming Scenario. FRONTIERS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, 7. 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00102
  • Macdonald, GJ; Banwell, AF; Willis, IC; Mayer, DP; Goodsell, B; MacAyeal, DR. (APR 2019). Formation of pedestalled, relict lakes on the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica. JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY, 65(250), 337-343. 10.1017/jog.2019.17
  • Banwell, AF; Willis, IC; Macdonald, GJ; Goodsell, B; MacAyeal, DR. (13-Feb 2019). Direct measurements of ice-shelf flexure caused by surface meltwater ponding and drainage. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 10. 10.1038/s41467-019-08522-5
  • Macayeal, DR; Banwell, AF; Okal, EA; Lin, JQ; Willis, IC; Goodsell, B; MacDonald, GJ. (SEP 2019). Diurnal seismicity cycle linked to subsurface melting on an ice shelf. ANNALS OF GLACIOLOGY, 60(79), 137-157. 10.1017/aog.2018.29
  • Williamson, AG, AF Banwell, IC Willis and NS Arnold. (26-Sep 2018). Dual-satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) remote sensing of supraglacial lakes in Greenland. CRYOSPHERE, 12(9), 3045-3065. 10.5194/tc-12-3045-2018
  • Macdonald, G., Banwell, A.F. and MacAyeal, D. (2018). Seasonal evolution of supraglacial lakes on a floating ice tongue, Petermann Glacier, Greenland. Annals of Glaciology, 59(76pt1), 56-65. 10.1017/aog.2018.9
  • Williamson, AG, IC Willis, NS Arnold and AF Banwell. (APR 2018). Controls on rapid supraglacial lake drainage in West Greenland: an Exploratory Data Analysis approach. JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY, 64(244), 208-226. 10.1017/jog.2018.8
  • Bell, RE, AF Banwell, LD Trusel and J Kingslake. (DEC 2018). Antarctic surface hydrology and impacts on ice-sheet mass balance. NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE, 8(12), 1044-1052. 10.1038/s41558-018-0326-3
  • Williamson, AG, NS Arnold, AF Banwell and IC Willis. (JUL 2017). A Fully Automated Supraglacial lake area and volume Tracking("FAST") algorithm: Development and application using MODIS imagery of West Greenland. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 196, 113-133. 10.1016/j.rse.2017.04.032
  • Banwell, AF, IC Willis, GJ Macdonald, B Goodsell, DP Mayer, A Powell and DR Macayeal. (JUL 2017). Calving and rifting on the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica. ANNALS OF GLACIOLOGY, 58(75), 78-87. 10.1017/aog.2017.12
  • Banwell, A, I Hewitt, I Willis and N Arnold. (DEC 2016). Moulin density controls drainage development beneath the Greenland ice sheet. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-EARTH SURFACE, 121(12), 2248-2269. 10.1002/2015JF003801
  • MacAyeal, DR, OV Sergienko and AF Banwell. (2015). A model of viscoelastic ice-shelf flexure. JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY, 61(228), 635-645. 10.3189/2015JoG14J169
  • Banwell, AF and DR Macayeal. (DEC 2015). Ice-shelf fracture due to viscoelastic flexure stress induced by fill/drain cycles of supraglacial lakes. ANTARCTIC SCIENCE, 27(6), 587-597. 10.1017/S0954102015000292
  • Anderson, B, I Willis, B Goodsell, A Banwell, I Owens, A Mackintosh and W Lawson. (NOV 2014). Annual to daily ice velocity and water pressure variations on Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere (Franz Josef Glacier), New Zealand. ARCTIC ANTARCTIC AND ALPINE RESEARCH, 46(4), 919-932. 10.1657/1938-4246-46.4.919
  • Banwell, AF, M Caballero, NS Arnold, NF Glasser, L Mac Cathles and DR MacAyeal. (2014). Supraglacial lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf, Antarctica, and at Paakitsoq, West Greenland: a comparative study. ANNALS OF GLACIOLOGY, 55(66), 1-8. 10.3189/2014AoG66A049
  • Arnold, NS, AF Banwell and IC Willis. (2014). High-resolution modelling of the seasonal evolution of surface water storage on the Greenland Ice Sheet. CRYOSPHERE, 8(4), 1149-1160. 10.5194/tc-8-1149-2014
  • Mayaud, JR, AF Banwell, NS Arnold and IC Willis. (DEC 2014). Modeling the response of subglacial drainage at Paakitsoq, west Greenland, to 21st century climate change. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-EARTH SURFACE, 119(12), 2619-2634. 10.1002/2014JF003271
  • Tedesco, M, IC Willis, MJ Hoffman, AF Banwell, P Alexander and NS Arnold. (JUL-SEP 2013). Ice dynamic response to two modes of surface lake drainage on the Greenland ice sheet. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 8(3). 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034007
  • Banwell, AF, IC Willis and NS Arnold. (SEP 2013). Modeling subglacial water routing at Paakitsoq, W Greenland. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-EARTH SURFACE, 118(3), 1282-1295. 10.1002/jgrf.20093
  • Banwell, AF, DR MacAyeal and OV Sergienko. (28-Nov 2013). Breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf triggered by chain reaction drainage of supraglacial lakes. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 40(22), 5872-5876. 10.1002/2013GL057694
  • Gulley, JD, P Walthard, J Martin, AF Banwell, DI Benn and G Catania. (2012). Conduit roughness and dye-trace breakthrough curves: why slow velocity and high dispersivity may not reflect flow in distributed systems. JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY, 58(211), 915-925. 10.3189/2012JoG11J115
  • Banwell, AF, IC Willis, NS Arnold, A Messerli, CJ Rye, M Tedesco and AP Ahlstrom. (2012). Calibration and evaluation of a high-resolution surface mass-balance model for Paakitsoq, West Greenland. JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY, 58(212), 1047-1062. 10.3189/2012JoG12J034
  • Covington, MD, AF Banwell, J Gulley, MO Saar, I Willis and CM Wicks. (11-Jan 2012). Quantifying the effects of glacier conduit geometry and recharge on proglacial hydrograph form. JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, 414, 59-71. 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.10.027
  • Banwell, AF, NS Arnold, IC Willis, M Tedesco and AP Ahlstrom. (18-Oct 2012). Modeling supraglacial water routing and lake filling on the Greenland Ice Sheet. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-EARTH SURFACE, 117. 10.1029/2012JF002393
  • Tedesco, M, M Luthje, K Steffen, N Steiner, X Fettweis, I Willis, N Bayou and A Banwell. (18-Jan 2012). Measurement and modeling of ablation of the bottom of supraglacial lakes in western Greenland. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 39. 10.1029/2011GL049882