Crampons underfoot, ice axe in tow, Peter Wall 2013-2014 Early Career Scholar Dr. Christian Schoof looks comfortably in his element drilling holes for water pressure sensors amongst a backdrop of glaciers on Canada’s North Pacific coast.
There are just four weeks a year when conditions permit productive work by Dr. Schoof and his team when visiting this “natural laboratory”, nestled in the Saint Elias Mountains, which span the border between Alaska and the Yukon. The sensors will be left for an entire season, in an effort to collect data that will give insight into the process of water flow along the base of glacial ice.
Dr. Schoof – Canada Research Chair in Global Process Modeling and an Associate Professor within the University of British Columbia’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences – works at the margin of mathematics, physics and glaciology, researching models that can analyze and predict changes in complex ice sheet and glacial behaviours.
“I’m mostly interested in what happens after the ice forms”, says Dr. Schoof, explaining that his research centres around ice behavior post-formation.
“It’s that process that I’m interested in. The ice flows – it’s a solid, but it actually flows – much like a sticky liquid would.”