I am interested in processes that impact the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet and could ultimately lead to wide spread mass loss and unstable retreat. Ice flow is modulated by conditions at the ice-bed interface however the basal environment is very challenging to directly measure due to the remote location, vast size, and extreme thickness of the ice sheet. As a result, it's unknown how the ice sheet could evolve to changes in basal forcing. I am particularly interested in the basal thermal regime and the ability of basal thawing to drive changes in ice flow and stability. The integration of radar analysis and numerical modeling is a powerful way to investigate this problem. With these techniques, I am investigating the ice sheet’s response to changes in the extent of thawed basal regions in order to project possible mass loss and contribution to sea level rise.

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

I am investigating how changes in the thermal regime at the ice-bed interface could force the Antarctic ice sheet to evolve. My approach combines large scale ice sheet modeling, regional airborne ice-penetrating radar sounding analysis, and the synthesis of the two. Currently, I am using the Ice-sheet and Sea-level system model (ISSM) to learn about basal thaw processes that could drive mass loss and ultimately contribute to sea level rise.

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Ice mass loss sensitivity to the Antarctic ice sheet basal thermal state. Nature communications Dawson, E. J., Schroeder, D. M., Chu, W., Mantelli, E., Seroussi, H. 2022; 13 (1): 4957


    Sea-level rise projections rely on accurate predictions of ice mass loss from Antarctica. Climate change promotes greater mass loss by destabilizing ice shelves and accelerating the discharge of upstream grounded ice. Mass loss is further exacerbated by mechanisms such as the Marine Ice Sheet Instability and the Marine Ice Cliff Instability. However, the effect of basal thermal state changes of grounded ice remains largely unexplored. Here, we use numerical ice sheet modeling to investigate how warmer basal temperatures could affect the Antarctic ice sheet mass balance. We find increased mass loss in response to idealized basal thawing experiments run over 100 years. Most notably, frozen-bed patches could be tenuously sustaining the current ice configuration in parts of George V, Adelie, Enderby, and Kemp Land regions of East Antarctica. With less than 5 degrees of basal warming, these frozen patches may begin to thaw, producing new loci of mass loss.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-022-32632-2

    View details for PubMedID 36104329

  • Post-Processing Synchronized Bistatic Radar for Long Offset Glacier Sounding IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING Bienert, N. L., Schroeder, D. M., Peters, S. T., MacKie, E. J., Dawson, E. J., Siegfried, M. R., Sanda, R., Christoffersen, P. 2022; 60
  • Rapid and accurate polarimetric radar measurements of ice crystal fabric orientation at the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide ice core site CRYOSPHERE Young, T., Martin, C., Christoffersen, P., Schroeder, D. M., Tulaczyk, S. M., Dawson, E. J. 2021; 15 (8): 4117-4133
  • Linear Relation Between Shifting ITCZ and Dust Hemispheric Asymmetry GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Evans, S., Dawson, E., Ginoux, P. 2020; 47 (22)
  • Seasonal Asymmetries in the Lag between Insolation and Surface Temperature JOURNAL OF CLIMATE Donohoe, A., Dawson, E., McMurdie, L., Battisti, D. S., Rhines, A. 2020; 33 (10): 3921–45
  • Evaporative Resistance is of Equal Importance as Surface Albedo in High-Latitude Surface Temperatures Due to Cloud Feedbacks GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Kim, J. E., Lague, M. M., Pennypacker, S., Dawson, E., Swann, A. S. 2020; 47 (4)
  • Southern African orography impacts on low clouds and the Atlantic ITCZ in a coupled model GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Potter, S. F., Dawson, E. J., Frierson, D. W. 2017; 44 (7): 3283–89