Ever since taking a computational physics course at my undergraduate institution (Western Washington University), I have been particularly interested in using computation tools and techniques to model complex natural phenomena. My broad research interests include:

  • Applying computational physics methods to novel and unique problems.
  • Validation and verification of global climate models and their constituents.
  • Developing cross-disciplinary tools to facilitate collaboration, sharing, and reproducability.
  • Investigating the link between climate history and ice crystalline fabric.
  • Glacier dynamics and the effects of anisotropic on bulk properties.

Active research

Validation and Verification

My research group withing the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratoy is developing a Land Ice Validation and Verification toolkit (LIVVkit), for the Community Ice Sheet Model (CISM). CISM is a higher-order ice sheet model that is fully scalable in parallel, and is part of the larger global climate model, CESM – the Community Earth System Model. The ability to verify (does the model work?) and validate (is this the right model?) CISM is integral to getting robust conclusion of past and future ice sheet characteristics; which CESM depends upon for its description of past and future global climate. While we are primarily focused on CISM , we are also building LIVV to be easily extensible to other models because no other continent scale ice sheet model currently includes a comprehensive validation and verification test suite. We aim to give glaciologist and climate scientist the tools to evaluate the performance and accuracy of large parallel ice sheet models, and developers ways to test changes to the code base.

Ice crystalline fabric

My dissertation was focused on linking the physics of ice crystallites to the climate histories we extract from polar ice cores. There is evidence that, once snow falls onto ice sheets, the crystallites or grains develop into a preferred orientation (termed ‘fabric’) as a result of the local climate conditions. After snow has been compressed to glacial ice, this fabric acts as a record of experienced climate. As these crystallites move deeper into the ice sheets, the ice crystallites continue to rotate and evolve due to the temperature of the ice and the stresses experienced from ice flow. This evolution happens in such a way that climate information, stored in the fabric, may be preserved and enhanced as the ice moves through the ice sheets.

Current research is focused on integrating the statistical fabric model used in my dissertation into continent scale ice sheet models. This will allow the fabric-climate link to be investigated in natural conditions and fabric evolution results to be tested against the fabric data extracted from ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica.