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

Alison Banwell

Alison Banwell is a glaciologist collaborating with Waleed Abdalati at CIRES and Ted Scambos at NSIDC. Her project uses a combination of modeling, satellite remote sensing, and field-derived data analysis to investigate the formation of surface lakes on Antarctic ice shelves, and the effects of those lakes 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 edges and currently 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 partially triggered by the drainage of over 2500 surface lakes.


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  • Banwell, AF; Willis, IC; Macdonald, GJ; Goodsell, B; MacAyeal, DR (2019), Direct measurements of ice-shelf flexure caused by surface meltwater ponding and drainage. Version: 1 NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 10 , Art. No. 730, issn: 2041-1723, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08522-5, PubMed ID: 30760715
  • Macdonald, G., Banwell, A.F. and MacAyeal, D. (2018), Seasonal evolution of supraglacial lakes on a floating ice tongue, Petermann Glacier, Greenland. Ann. Glaciol. Version: 1, doi: 10.1017/aog.2018.9
  • Bell, RE, AF Banwell, LD Trusel and J Kingslake (2018), Antarctic surface hydrology and impacts on ice-sheet mass balance. Nat. Clim. Chang. Version: 1 8 (12) 1044-1052, issn: 1758-678X, ids: HC6NW, doi: 10.1038/s41558-018-0326-3
  • Williamson, AG, AF Banwell, IC Willis and NS Arnold (2018), Dual-satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) remote sensing of supraglacial lakes in Greenland. Cryosphere Version: 1 12 (9) 3045-3065, issn: 1994-0416, ids: GU8XC, doi: 10.5194/tc-12-3045-2018
  • Douglas R. MacAyeal, Alison F. Banwell, Emile A. Okal, Jinqiao Lin, Ian C. Willis, Becky Goodsell, Grant J. Macdonald (2018), Diurnal seismicity cycle linked to subsurface melting on an ice shelf. Ann. Glaciol. Version: 11-21, doi: 10.1017/aog.2018.29
  • Williamson, AG, IC Willis, NS Arnold and AF Banwell (2018), Controls on rapid supraglacial lake drainage in West Greenland: an Exploratory Data Analysis approach. J. Glaciol. Version: 1 64 (244) 208-226, issn: 0022-1430, ids: GD3RU, doi: 10.1017/jog.2018.8
  • Williamson, AG, NS Arnold, AF Banwell and IC Willis (2017), A Fully Automated Supraglacial lake area and volume Tracking("FAST") algorithm: Development and application using MODIS imagery of West Greenland. Remote Sens. Environ. Version: 1 196 113-133, issn: 0034-4257, ids: EX7QS, doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2017.04.032
  • Banwell, AF, IC Willis, GJ Macdonald, B Goodsell, DP Mayer, A Powell and DR Macayeal (2017), Calving and rifting on the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol. Version: 1 58 (75) 78-87, issn: 0260-3055, ids: FW0UY, doi: 10.1017/aog.2017.12
  • Banwell, A, I Hewitt, I Willis and N Arnold (2016), Moulin density controls drainage development beneath the Greenland ice sheet. J. Geophys. Res.-Earth Surf. Version: 1 121 (12) 2248-2269, issn: 2169-9003, ids: EI9MI, doi: 10.1002/2015JF003801
  • Banwell, AF and DR Macayeal (2015), Ice-shelf fracture due to viscoelastic flexure stress induced by fill/drain cycles of supraglacial lakes. Antarct. Sci. Version: 1 27 (6) 587-597, issn: 0954-1020, ids: DA6HW, doi: 10.1017/S0954102015000292
  • MacAyeal, DR, OV Sergienko and AF Banwell (2015), A model of viscoelastic ice-shelf flexure. J. Glaciol. Version: 1 61 (228) 635-645, issn: 0022-1430, ids: CT7NQ, doi: 10.3189/2015JoG14J169
  • Mayaud, JR, AF Banwell, NS Arnold and IC Willis (2014), Modeling the response of subglacial drainage at Paakitsoq, west Greenland, to 21st century climate change. J. Geophys. Res.-Earth Surf. Version: 1 119 (12) 2619-2634, issn: 2169-9003, ids: CA2JX, doi: 10.1002/2014JF003271
  • Anderson, B, I Willis, B Goodsell, A Banwell, I Owens, A Mackintosh and W Lawson (2014), Annual to daily ice velocity and water pressure variations on Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere (Franz Josef Glacier), New Zealand. Arct. Antarct. Alp. Res. Version: 1 46 (4) 919-932, issn: 1523-0430, ids: AW3YR, doi: 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. Ann. Glaciol. Version: 1 55 (66) 1-8, issn: 0260-3055, ids: AH3FX, doi: 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 Version: 1 8 (4) 1149-1160, issn: 1994-0416, ids: AO8RU, doi: 10.5194/tc-8-1149-2014
  • Tedesco, M, IC Willis, MJ Hoffman, AF Banwell, P Alexander and NS Arnold (2013), Ice dynamic response to two modes of surface lake drainage on the Greenland ice sheet. Environ. Res. Lett. Version: 1 8 (3) , Art. No. 34007, issn: 1748-9326, ids: 229FL, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034007
  • Banwell, AF, DR MacAyeal and OV Sergienko (2013), Breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf triggered by chain reaction drainage of supraglacial lakes. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 40 (22) 5872-5876, issn: 0094-8276, ids: 268ZX, doi: 10.1002/2013GL057694
  • Banwell, AF, IC Willis and NS Arnold (2013), Modeling subglacial water routing at Paakitsoq, W Greenland. J. Geophys. Res.-Earth Surf. Version: 1 118 (3) 1282-1295, issn: 2169-9003, ids: 238VC, doi: 10.1002/jgrf.20093
  • 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. J. Glaciol. Version: 1 58 (212) 1047-1062, issn: 0022-1430, ids: 056HQ, doi: 10.3189/2012JoG12J034
  • Covington, MD, AF Banwell, J Gulley, MO Saar, I Willis and CM Wicks (2012), Quantifying the effects of glacier conduit geometry and recharge on proglacial hydrograph form. J. Hydrol. Version: 1 414 59-71, issn: 0022-1694, ids: 902ZE, doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.10.027
  • Banwell, AF, NS Arnold, IC Willis, M Tedesco and AP Ahlstrom (2012), Modeling supraglacial water routing and lake filling on the Greenland Ice Sheet. J. Geophys. Res.-Earth Surf. Version: 1 117 , Art. No. F04012, issn: 0148-0227, ids: 023XQ, doi: 10.1029/2012JF002393
  • 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. J. Glaciol. Version: 1 58 (211) 915-925, issn: 0022-1430, ids: 012PG, doi: 10.3189/2012JoG11J115
  • Tedesco, M, M Luthje, K Steffen, N Steiner, X Fettweis, I Willis, N Bayou and A Banwell (2012), Measurement and modeling of ablation of the bottom of supraglacial lakes in western Greenland. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 39 , Art. No. L02502, issn: 0094-8276, ids: 880GO, doi: 10.1029/2011GL049882