University of Cincinnati student Shujie Wang has discovered
that a good way to monitor the environmental health of Antarctica is to go with
the flow – the ice flow, that is.
It’s an important parameter to track because as Antarctica’s
health goes, so goes the world’s.
“The ice sheet in Antarctica is the largest fresh water
reservoir on Earth, and if it were totally melted, the sea level would rise by
more than 60 meters. So it is quite important to measure the ice mass loss
there,” says Wang, a doctoral student in geography in UC’s McMicken College of
Arts & Sciences.
Wang will present her research, “Analysis of Ice Flow
Velocity Variations on the Antarctic Peninsula during 1986-2012 Based on
Multi-Sensor Remote Sensing Image Time Series,” at the Association of American
Geographers annual meeting. The interdisciplinary forum is attended by more
than 7 000 scientists from around the world and features an array of
geography-related presentations, workshops and field trips.
Antarctica is 5.5 million square miles of windswept,
mountainous ice desert. The fifth largest continent is covered in a sheet of
ice that is on average more than a mile thick. Across this province of
penguins, outlet glaciers and ice streams funnel chunks of ice into the ocean
where they eventually melt in warmer waters. If the ice begins to melt at an
abnormally high rate and the sea level rises, a chain reaction of negative
ecological effects could take place worldwide.
How the research was
For her research, Wang uses remote-sensing images recorded
by satellites to gather data on Antarctica’s ice motion. She’s particularly
interested in determining changes in the ice flow velocity, because the faster
ice moves, the faster it’s lost.
By calculating that velocity at different time intervals,
Wang hopes to further understand the process of ice motion and be able to
predict changes to Antarctica’s landscape. She’s planning models that simulate
the ice sheet dynamics and estimate any influence on the sea level.
“I hope to provide valuable research to the academia of
global change studies,” Wang says.
Additional contributors to Wang’s research paper were
Hongxing Liu (UC), Lei Wang (Louisiana State University) and Xia Li (Sun
Yat-Sen University, China).
Funding for the research was provided by University Graduate
Scholarship allocations from UC’s Graduate School and the Department of
In 2012, UC was named among the nation’s top “green” schools
by The Princeton Review due it’s to strong commitment to sustainability in
academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.
It was the third year in a row that UC earned a spot on the prestigious list.