Current Research

Using satellite imagery and physical models, I analyze and characterize how Antarctica’s largest meltwater systems evolve in space and time. My focus is studying what happens to Antarctica’s streams and ponds as ice flows faster and global climate warms.

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 Using the cloud-based platforms (Pangeo, Google Earth Engine) to analyze large datasets of surface processes, the Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica and Landsat archive. I have been assessing surface hydrology with a simple water routing model using RACMO2 snow-melt input in order to measure climate versus topographic controls on surface drainage. 

GoogleEarth Engine

A relatively simple Google Earth App to compare digital elevation model data to optical (Landsat 8) observed lakes over Antarctic ice shelves.

Please be patient, there’s a lot of data!

Example of Pangeo work-flow


 Using optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar images, I analyze the multiyear evolution of meltwater lakes on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. I theorize mechanisms of ice shelf – meltwater interaction and how these mechanisms may affect ice shelf in a warmer, wetter Antarctica. 

A map of where the Amery Ice Shelf is:

Map of Amery Ice Shelf, from Spergel et al. (2021)

It became clear that optical imagery was not enough to understand how these systems evolved. I used spatiotemporal patterns in the radar backscatter to investigate how the melt-lakes froze or remained liquid during the austral winter – potentially the first time that this method was used in polar surface hydrology!

Water Routing/Physical Modeling

I used the products of my REMA filtering work to create an idealized

Using a simple, bucket-filling model for water routing built in Matlab using TopoToolbox, we can analyze what controls drainage network expansion.

A simple water routing model of east Amery Ice Shelf

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