Society of physics analyzes glaciers and climate change

Reed Widdoes, Staff Writer

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) teamed up with the Department of Physics & Astronomy to present a guest lecturer who discussed repercussions of climate change. On March 28, Dustin Schroeder ’07 returned to his alma mater to discuss glacial geophysics. Schroeder received his Ph.D in geophysics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. Currently, he works as an assistant professor at Stanford University.

Schroeder began the talk by reminding students in the audience how fortunate they were to be taught by the University’s professors, and personally thanked some of his former professors in attendance. Afterward, he immediately digressed into the topic of his presentation, titled Radio Glaciology: A Window into the Physical Processes of Ice Sheets.”

Schroeder explained that his field work mostly concerns tracking the movement of rapid ice, or large sheets of a glacier moving at abnormally fast speeds, using radar technology.

“Anyone who cares about humanity, and anyone who cares about climate change, cares about glaciology,” Schroeder said.

His research, which was mostly conducted at the Arctic Ocean, found that one pool of water under a glacier can hasten its movement, causing it to break off into the sea. Schroeder said that two rifts might cause one of the more unstable glaciers to fall into the ocean and melt, raising the sea level by significant amounts. He concluded his presentation by explaining the techniques of radar mapping to the audience, emphasizing how important the practice has become.

The lecture was well attended, and many students responded with questions at the end. 

“As a physics major it was interesting to see the two disciplines of physics and geology come together and see how it pertains to a very relevant issue of sea levels rising,” Rajasri Alaparthi ’17 said.

Schroeder’s final wish was for each student in attendance to consider an occupation in his field of work. If not, he hoped that they were at least now cognizant of the implications of climate change.

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