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Hydrosphere, Cryosphere, and Climate

Ice and Climate Research

Ice and Climate Research

Ice and Climate Research addresses the effects of ice on sea level, the history of Earth’s climate, especially as recorded in ice cores, and interactions of ice with its surroundings. Even small changes in glaciers and ice sheets can greatly affect sea level. Penn State researchers are active in field-based as well as model-based studies focused on changes in large-scale ice sheets in West Antarctica, Greenland, and other locations around the world.

Ice cores contain detailed histories of past climates including startling revelations about abrupt climate changes. Penn State geoscientists use knowledge of the physical properties of ice to interpret past climates and ice-flow processes. Glacially-sculpted landscapes record the power of ice to modify the landscape and perturb biogeochemical cycles, another focus of Penn State research.

Recent student projects include geophysical surveys of ice-stream initiation in West Antarctica, measuring ice motion in Alaska, characterizing ice cores at the National Ice Core Laboratory in Denver and at remote Antarctic sites, and modeling of the future of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Faculty members Sridhar Anandakrishnan and Richard Alley lead the Ice and Climate Group, together with researchers Todd Sowers, Don Voigt, David Pollard and Byron Parizek. Ties to many other disciplines broaden the field greatly.

Learn more about Penn State Ice and Climate Research

Hydrogeology

Hydrogeology

The hydrogeology program dates from the early 1960s and enjoys a national reputation. Its many graduates are among the nation's most outstanding hydroscientists, academics and consultants.

Faculty in this area include Saffer and Parizek, and opportunities exist to develop projects in a wide range of topics, over a range of scales. Hydrogeology today is a quantitative discipline, and we train and educate our students to think quantitatively.

Research within the group includes developing relations between fluid flow, mechanics, and deformation, including the role of pore fluids within tectonically active ocean margins and along active faults; controls on fluid flow in aquifers, solute transport, and groundwater-surface-water interactions; and the impact of mining, nuclear-waste disposal, and industrial waste in the environment, among others.

Penn State has an active group of water-focused scientists in various departments around campus, and is one of the best places in the world to study hydrologic processes.