Research Projects

We use cosmogenic nuclide techniques to address questions of past climate change, ice sheet and glacier change, and landscape evolution. Topics we're currently interested in include:

  • Ice Sheet (In)stability and Climate: Observations and Models
  • Mountain Glaciers: summer temperature change and inter-hemispheric climate patterns
  • Spy Satellites and Himalayan Glacier Change
  • Here comes the Sun: Climate Change and solar irradiation change
  • Extreme Events: Tsunamis and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) 
  • Landscape and Ice Sheet Evolution in Antarctica
  • Outreach, Climate Communication and Diversity
  • Cosmo Tool Workshop: Geochemistry and Analytics development of new methods

See our full list of Research Projects below!

"Science Bulletins: Shrinking Glaciers—A Chronology of Climate Change" is a video in collaboration with the Natural History Museum where our director, Joerg Schaefer, explains our research and its importance.

Ongoing Research Projects


Read about our project to collect bedrock cores from beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet. These cores will help us determine the last time the Greenland Ice Sheet disappeared. 

Benchmarking Spatial Patterns of Glacier Change

To better understand the trajectory of future glacier change, and related environmental variability, better regional influences on glacier behavior across the planet must be elucidated. For this reason, detailed knowledge of regional glacier change and their deviations from the global pattern are critically needed for paleoclimate and glacial-geomorphology communities. Carbon dioxide changes during the last deglaciation were tightly coupled to mountain glacier change. Yet, this compilation lacked data from the high latitudes.

Dating of tsunami megaclasts and storm boulder ridges in the Atlantic volcanic islands

The LDEO Cosmogenic Nuclide Group pioneered the use of cosmogenic 3He geochronology to date tsunami deposits on volcanic islands, when it successfully employed this technique to determine the age of emplacement of basaltic megaclasts quarried by a pre-historic megatsunami that impacted Santiago Island, in the Cape Verdes, as the result of the gravitational collapse of Fogo volcano.

Geological constraints on the disappearance of the Laurentide Ice Sheet

Knowledge of past warm periods and their effect on the cryosphere can help place modern warming and glacier demise in a longer-term context. LIS is Earth's most dynamic ice sheet having undergone repeated continental-scale expansions and contractions through the Quaternary. Evidence for past ice-sheet maxima is found in terrestrial and marine settings, yet the minimum extent of the LIS during interglaciations is largely unknown. The Barnes Ice Cap, the last remaining vestige of LIS, once covered much of the North American continent during the Last Glacial Maximum (~27-20 ka).

Ice sheet sensitivity in a changing Arctic system - using geologic data and modeling to test the stable Greenland Ice Sheet hypothesis

Due to recent advances in numerical ice sheet models and new sub-ice topography of Greenland, combined with finely-tuned field approaches and geochronologic techniques, the time is ripe for a coordinated, cross-disciplinary effort focusing on cryosphere variability in a warming Arctic; the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) and sea ice constitute the largest, and most critical components of the arctic cryosphere.

Landscape Evolution in the McMurdo Dry Valleys: Erosion Rates and Real-time Monitoring of Rock Breakdown in a Hyperarid, Subzero Environment

The McMurdo Dry Valleys region of Antarctica is one of the coldest, driest, and windiest places on the planet, and is often used as an analog for the surface of Mars. It is also the largest ice-free region of Antarctica, and thus its deposits and landforms contain unique records of past climate not accessible elsewhere in the Antarctic continent or the world. In order to accurately interpret any geologic feature, however, we must understand how it forms and changes through time.

Southern Hemispheric Climate Variability Based on Mountain Glacial Chronologies

Mountain glaciers respond sensitively to changes in Earth's atmosphere such that records of their history serve as a useful proxy for past climates. Thus, comprehensive records of glacier extents can be combined with other types of climate archives to provide a perspective from the past on the present controls on the climate system. This project builds on recent observations by our group that glacier-climate histories at the southern tip of South America showed different patterns from those observed in North America and Europe.

Testing Arctic Ice Sheet Sensitivity to Abrupt Climate Change

An intensive field-based research program capitalizing on our ability to reconstruct ice sheet change using high-precision beryllium-10 dating. We are interested if prominent moraine systems marking former ice extents in West Greenland and Baffin Island record the synchronous advance of the Greenland and Laurentide ice sheets driven by the abrupt cooling events 9.3 and 8.2 thousand years ago. Pilot data reveal that portions of the ice sheet margin that are in contact with the surrounding ocean are able to respond rapidly to a short-lived climate perturbation.

Interested in working with us?

Check out our Opportunities page and email one of our Principal Investigators to inquire about research opportunities.