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

Alison Banwell

Research Interests

I am a glaciologist, and broadly, my research monitors and quantifies how the Earth’s warming climate is changing glacier, ice-sheet and ice-shelf melt, hydrology and dynamics using satellite remote-sensing alongside field-based geodetic techniques and modeling.

Currently, a key focus of my research is Antarctic ice-shelf dynamics in response to surface meltwater processes. Ice shelves, which are the floating extensions of glaciers on land, surround ~75% of Antarctica and have an important role in regulating the rate that inland glacier ice is lost to the ocean. Surface melting on ice shelves has been observed to lead to dense networks of surface meltwater lakes, which act as loads on a floating ice shelf when full, or anti-loads if/when they drain. These changes in surface loading therefore induce stress changes that can lead to ice-shelf flexure and fracture, and ultimately break-up of an ice shelf. As air temperatures rise, surface meltwater-induced ice-shelf breakup events are expected to increase.

View Publications

  • Picard G; Leduc-Leballeur M; Banwell AF; Brucker L; Macelloni G. (Dec 2022). The sensitivity of satellite microwave observations to liquid water in the Antarctic snowpack. The Cryosphere , 16(12), 5061-5083. 10.5194/tc-16-5061-2022
  • Clem KR; Raphael MN; Adusumilli S; Baiman R; Banwell AF; Barreira S; Beadling RL; Colwell S; Coy L; Datta RT. (Aug 2022). Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society , 103(8), S307-S340. 10.1175/bams-d-22-0078.1
  • Dell RL; Banwell AF; Willis IC; Arnold NS; Halberstadt ARW; Chudley TR; Pritchard HD. (Apr 2022). CORRIGENDUM: Supervised classification of slush and ponded water on Antarctic ice shelves using Landsat 8 imagery (vol 68, pg 401, 2021). Journal of Glaciology , 68(268), 415-416. 10.1017/jog.2022.15
  • Coffey NB; MacAyeal DR; Copland L; Mueller DR; Sergienko OV; Banwell AF; Lai C-Y. (Feb 2022). Enigmatic surface rolls of the Ellesmere Ice Shelf. Journal of Glaciology , 1-12. 10.1017/jog.2022.3
  • Dell RL; Banwell AF; Willis IC; Arnold NS; Halberstadt ARW; Chudley TR; Pritchard HD. (Nov 2021). Supervised classification of slush and ponded water on Antarctic ice shelves using Landsat 8 imagery. Journal of Glaciology , 1-14. 10.1017/jog.2021.114
  • 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. The Cryosphere. 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. (Nov 2019). A Speed Limit on Ice Shelf Collapse Through Hydrofracture. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS , 46(21). 10.1029/2019GL084397
  • 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). 10.1017/aog.2018.29
  • 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. (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). 10.1017/jog.2019.17
  • Banwell, AF; Willis, IC; Macdonald, GJ; Goodsell, B; MacAyeal, DR. (Feb 2019). Direct measurements of ice-shelf flexure caused by surface meltwater ponding and drainage. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS , 10. 10.1038/s41467-019-08522-5
  • 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). 10.1038/s41558-018-0326-3
  • Williamson, AG, AF Banwell, IC Willis and NS Arnold. (Sep 2018). Dual-satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) remote sensing of supraglacial lakes in Greenland. CRYOSPHERE , 12(9). 10.5194/tc-12-3045-2018
  • 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). 10.1017/jog.2018.8
  • Macdonald, G., Banwell, A.F. and MacAyeal, D. (Jan 2018). Seasonal evolution of supraglacial lakes on a floating ice tongue, Petermann Glacier, Greenland. , 59(76pt1). 10.1017/aog.2018.9
  • 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). 10.1017/aog.2017.12
  • 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. 10.1016/j.rse.2017.04.032
  • Banwell A. (Apr 2017). GLACIOLOGY Ice-shelf stability questioned. Nature , 544(7650), 306-307. 10.1038/544306a
  • 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). 10.1002/2015JF003801
  • 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). 10.1017/S0954102015000292
  • MacAyeal, DR, OV Sergienko and AF Banwell. (Jan 2015). A model of viscoelastic ice-shelf flexure. JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY , 61(228). 10.3189/2015JoG14J169
  • 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). 10.1002/2014JF003271
  • 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). 10.1657/1938-4246-46.4.919
  • Arnold, NS, AF Banwell and IC Willis. (Jan 2014). High-resolution modelling of the seasonal evolution of surface water storage on the Greenland Ice Sheet. CRYOSPHERE , 8(4). 10.5194/tc-8-1149-2014
  • Banwell, AF, M Caballero, NS Arnold, NF Glasser, L Mac Cathles and DR MacAyeal. (Jan 2014). Supraglacial lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf, Antarctica, and at Paakitsoq, West Greenland: a comparative study. ANNALS OF GLACIOLOGY , 55(66). 10.3189/2014AoG66A049
  • Tedesco, M, IC Willis, MJ Hoffman, AF Banwell, P Alexander and NS Arnold. (Dec 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, DR MacAyeal and OV Sergienko. (Nov 2013). Breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf triggered by chain reaction drainage of supraglacial lakes. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS , 40(22). 10.1002/2013GL057694
  • 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). 10.1002/jgrf.20093
  • Banwell, AF, NS Arnold, IC Willis, M Tedesco and AP Ahlstrom. (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. (Jan 2012). Measurement and modeling of ablation of the bottom of supraglacial lakes in western Greenland. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS , 39. 10.1029/2011GL049882
  • Covington, MD, AF Banwell, J Gulley, MO Saar, I Willis and CM Wicks. (Jan 2012). Quantifying the effects of glacier conduit geometry and recharge on proglacial hydrograph form. JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY , 414. 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.10.027
  • Banwell, AF, IC Willis, NS Arnold, A Messerli, CJ Rye, M Tedesco and AP Ahlstrom. (Jan 2012). Calibration and evaluation of a high-resolution surface mass-balance model for Paakitsoq, West Greenland. JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY , 58(212). 10.3189/2012JoG12J034
  • Gulley, JD, P Walthard, J Martin, AF Banwell, DI Benn and G Catania. (Jan 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). 10.3189/2012JoG11J115