Seminar: Pairing eyes in the sky with instruments in the deep: New applications of thermal infrared imagery in Antarctic glacier-ocean systems using open cloud-computing workflows

Mar. 30, 2023

1:00 – 2:00 pm MDT

Mesa Lab Main Seminar Room and Virtual

Speaker: Dr. Tasha Snow, Colorado School of Mines



The Antarctic Ice Sheet’s contribution to sea level rise is a wildcard in future climate projections. All of Antarctica’s ice loss occurs along the coastline from state-sized glaciers and half of that loss arises as a result of melting by the ocean, making a robust understanding of ocean heat circulation around the continent critical. Field observations have been historically sparse in this harsh and remote area of the world, forcing researchers to lean predominantly on remote sensing to investigate processes driving ice loss. A recent expansion of Antarctic field observations and explosion of satellite data collection may help to answer new and longstanding ice-ocean questions, but the big data volumes have rendered standard research pipelines outclassed and data storage unfeasible on local systems. Here, we show new applications of remote sensing and state-of-the-art statistical methods that harness the power of open-source cloud-computing infrastructure to make multi-decadal fine- (sub-kilometer) or Antarctic continent-scale investigations using disparate and often sparse datasets tractable. We use visible and thermal infrared imagery fused with field observations to track the seasonal and interannual variability in the Antarctic Coastal Current, and a physics-featurized deep learning method to characterize glacier meltwater plumes that can impact ice shelf stability. We also showcase the open science principles, cloud-computing infrastructure, and new collaborative research standards we have started to build for conducting research in complex, often unobservable Antarctic systems. The specialized social and technological innovations that we have developed for glacier-ocean research are portable and generalizable to other scientific communities to help democratize science and accelerate discovery for the broader research community and public. 


Tasha is a Research Associate at the Colorado School of Mines working to better understand high latitude ocean and glacier change and how it will impact the planet. Her work focuses on how oceans interact with glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, and she is developing new ways to apply satellite thermal infrared imagery to study heat transport within these systems. She specializes in remote sensing, machine learning, and open science. One of her most exciting projects at the moment is leading the CryoCloud cloud-computing project ( to help usher NASA Cryosphere communities into the cloud and build open-source science infrastructure and community best practices. Aside from her research interests, she is a veteran of the US Navy and is passionate about helping others to develop more inclusive leadership skills in academia.


*This event is for NCAR/UCAR/UCP staff only. For employees, add this event to your calendar