Arctic Glacial Lakes

What Are They Doing?

Photo by Dan FrostLake Linné, Svalbard is the site of a previous year's research. Photo by Dan Frost. This project seeks to better understand the natural variability of hydrology and sediment transport in Arctic glacial lake systems, and to investigate how this variability might be impacted by climate change in the future. Studies such as this one, which captures natural variability across the Arctic at different temporal scales, are necessary to enhance our comprehension of how climate change has impacted and will continue to impact these systems.

In order to improve our paleoclimate reconstructions of these processes, a crucial step is the development of a system model that describes the hydrology, sediment-flux, and sedimentation in glacial lake systems. A main goal of this project is to establish such a model, and to apply it to three glaciated watersheds that span a gradient from the sub-Arctic to high Arctic. The three lakes included in the study are Eklutna Lake (a sub-arctic lake near Anchorage, Alaska), Lake Peters (in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska), and Lake Linné (Svalbard, in the high Arctic). From 2015-2017, field seasons have focused on Lake Peters, where weather stations, sediment traps, ablation stakes, and various other climate monitoring has continued for a total of three years, and sediment cores have been collected to reconstruct paleoenvironmental changes.

Where Are They?

Photo by Melissa BarkerAn aerial view of the Brooks Range. Photo by Melissa Barker. The G. William Holmes Research Station at Lake Peters (65 km south of the Arctic Ocean in the northeastern Brooks Range), is located in true wilderness. There are no man-made trails, and terrain is rugged and often steep. Brown bears, wolves, and wolverines are among the many types of animals in the area. Team members will be working long hours on a small boat on the lake, as well as hiking up 1000 vertical feet elevation to the nearby Chamberlain Glacier.

Expedition Map


Hiking with the research team
What is it like to finally meet the people with whom you'll spend three weeks at a remote Arctic field camp? When I returned from orientation and told my students more about my expedition, they were anxious on my behalf. The idea of being isolated in such a remote location with three strangers was intimidating. "They'd better be nice!" one student laughed nervously. Well, after three months of videoconferences, emails, planning, and training, I can confirm that they absolutely are nice. Ellie, along with her advisor Darrell and his wife Mindy, took time during their spring break to make the...
Museum of the North
When I graduated from college, I flew to Hawaii to volunteer for the National Park Service. I wanted to spend my summer on tropical beaches and my newly minted Ecology degree was my ticket to the dream vacation, er, job, of monitoring sea turtles from remote beaches in Hawaii. As with lots of field work, it ended up being mostly hours of monotony. I sat night after night on the beach, staring across the ocean, hoping to glimpse a turtle. While I eventually saw many, it wasn't the interactions with the turtles or hours swimming in tropical waters that had a lasting influence on me. It was the...
Orientation break
I arrived in Fairbanks late last night, exhausted but taking in every detail, from the cold air that made me cough to the roads coated in snow. After a short night of sleep, I was expecting to wake up to darkness, so was surprised to see twilight, even though the sun wouldn't rise for two hours! The effects of the low angle of the sun, like prolonged twilight (and amazingly long sunrises and sunsets!) shouldn't be surprising, but experiencing this latitude is so different from reading or hearing stories about it. I'm sure there will be many more surprises this week. Sunrise over Fairbanks...

Project Information

31 July 2017 to 21 August 2017
Location: G. William Holmes Research Station at Lake Peters, Alaska
Project Funded Title: Developing a system model of Arctic glacial-lacustrine sedimentation for investigating past and future climate change

Meet the Team

Rebecca Harris's picture
Escalante High School
Boulder, UT
United States

Rebecca grew up in the outdoors, spending much of her childhood hiking, camping, and identifying birds and plants with her family. This exploration developed into an academic love for science, which led her to pursue a degree in Ecology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rebecca went on to earn her Masters studying plant community ecology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While in graduate school, she was a NSF GK-12 Fellow and discovered that while she loved research, she was passionate about teaching and communicating science. Rebecca now teaches at a tiny school in rural Utah, where she learns from her students every day while teaching everything from 7th grade math to Biology. She teaches a field course for college students, is a volunteer EMT, and loves to explore the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Ellie Broadman's picture
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ
United States

Ellie is a graduate student at Northern Arizona University studying Paleoenvironmental Science in the Environmental Science and Policy program. Originally from Boston, she has happily spent most of her adult life studying earth and environmental science in California and Arizona, though her graduate research now brings her to Alaska to investigate Holocene climate variability. Ellie received her B.A. in Geography from UC Berkeley, where her interests in paleoecology and paleoclimatology were first sparked. Before attending graduate school, she worked as a Physical Science Technician for the Quaternary Paleoenvironmental Research Lab at the USGS in Menlo Park, California.

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Latest Comments

They were definitely impressed, and I love that I can now refer back to their visit when I talk about the Arctic and my upcoming trip.
That's amazing. Were your students properly impressed? It is nice to have the experts come and give a lesson. It's a day off for you (hehe). I can't wait to read more about your researchers and the...
It was great getting to know you. I wish you all the best. Take care, Lee
Thanks for sharing your journal. My dear friend Aldona is/was director for The Museum of the North. She mentored me for 9 years through a joint board of directors we served on (Western Museums...
I could have spent the entire day in that room! Thanks for all of your help and ideas. I know that I will be a better PolarTREC teacher because of you. Safe travels to you as well... I can't wait to...