GlacierHub recently saw our number of Twitter followers pass the 3000 mark. We decided to reach out to the individual who was our 3000th follower. We looked at our list of followers and saw one person in that slot, and then looked again a few minutes later and found someone else at the same place. With such uncertainty, we contacted both.
Beatriz Recinos is from El Salvador. She is a PhD student at the University of Bremen in Germany, where she works in the Climate LAB Research group, led by Ben Marzeion, in the Institute of Geography. Her research focuses on the contribution of glaciers to sea level rise. She is also an associate member of ArcTrain, an international program that trains PhD students in the geosciences about climate change in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Canadian Arctic.
Celeste Labedz is from Nebraska. She is a PhD student at the California Institute of Technology Seismological Laboratory. Her research currently focuses on monitoring subglacial hydrological systems by using the continuous seismic tremor generated by the flowing water. She is also interested in cryoseismology and environmental seismology, as well as science communication and teaching. She has taught as a visiting instructor for the Juneau Icefield Research Program.
They both agreed to be interviewed.
Glacier Hub: What interests you about glaciers?
Beatriz Recinos: For someone who is from a tropical country (El Salvador) without glaciers or snow, the simple fact that glaciers are basically rivers of frozen water is fascinating, especially the dynamics behind their behavior. When I first came to Europe to do my master’s degree in oceanography, I had no idea what a glacier was. In fact, when I started a PhD on tidewater glaciers, I had very little knowledge about the cryosphere in general or how glaciers have been important contributors to sea level rise. Now I think this aspect of glaciers and estimating their global volume is what interest me the most.
Celeste Labedz: In short: everything! More specifically: I’m interested in how to see what happens inside of glaciers. Tools like seismology and radar that reveal glaciers’ inner workings are my favorite.
GH: What is your favorite glacier?
BR: I will have to say that the Columbia Glacier in Alaska. I have run so many simulations on the glacier that I think I have memorized all the features already. Also it looks like a broccoli from above.
CL: My favorite glacier is Lemon Creek Glacier, in the Juneau Icefield of Alaska.
GH: What do you like about GlacierHub?
BR: I really like how the website seems to connect both science and the general public. I have always thought that we as scientists do very little sometimes to communicate our findings to people outside our scientific scoop. And I think the website is a good example on how to really do that.
CL: I like that they add a little more glaciology research and glacier-relevant news to my Twitter feed. It’s cool to come across facets of glaciology that I might not have thought to seek out on my own.
GH: What do you look for in environmental or climate websites?
BR: Most of the time I look for a job posting because I will be without a job soon. But mostly I look for news on latest research, new data, teaching tools, things like that.
CL: I look for clear, concise, and interesting explanations of research that set an example of how I want to communicate my own science. I like websites that show some trust with the reader’s comprehension, rather than dumbing things down condescendingly.
— Celeste Labedz (@celestelabedz) September 25, 2018
GH: What are your plans for your studies?
BR: I hope I can submit my PhD thesis next summer, that’s my main goal so far and it is looking like I will manage to do it on time. After that, I am considering moving to industry sector due to the job instability in academia. Regardless, I will apply to any job posting that interest me. If I stay in academia, I would like to move to ice sheet modelling, but I would also be glad to go back to something with more focus in ocean circulation. If I go the industry sector, I would like to do oceanographic data management, collection or interpretation.
CL: I’m starting my third year of my PhD program, so my plan is to just keep rolling!
GH: What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
BR: Something related to science I hope. Or at least scientific programming of any kind.
CL: I want to be some kind of professional nerd. I’m enjoying research, but also considering moving toward science communication fields like writing or policy.
Doing some #scicomm at my old alma mater @UESoficial #ElSalvador. Talking about #glaciers and #SeaLevelRise in a country with no Glaciers 😅 but largely impact by rising sea levels. pic.twitter.com/ckVhbFjUIG
— Beatriz Recinos (@bmrocean) September 7, 2018
GH: Do you see your natural science work on glaciers as linking with issues of sustainable development?
BR: I think yes! Currently, I am improving a model initialization (the first glacier volume estimate) for tidewater glaciers in the open global glacier model.
Before I started with my PhD, the model couldn’t represent marine-terminating glaciers. Now we have improved the model and we can estimate in a more precise way, how much volume of ice is stored on those glaciers and how much it will contribute to sea level rise.
Sea level rise is a global problem that affects everyone. I come from Central America, where 80 percent of the population lives by the coast. In my country we have very little understanding how to adapt sustainable to rising sea levels. Mostly because we have at the moment probably bigger problems than climate change. But also because we lack the knowledge of the implications of sea level rise and because globally people have a hard time believing the facts. Especially because there are huge uncertainties of how much it would actually rise or what exactly is going to happen. Most of these uncertainties comes from the fact that models can’t resolve still key processes of glacier/ice sheet dynamics or climate/ocean dynamics. And in my case: processes of frontal ablation. We need to improve in general earth models to aim for better predictions on sea level rise and climate change.
CL: Absolutely! Understanding glacier hydrology is important for forecasting the availability of water resources. A huge number of people depend on glacier melt as a fresh water source, but the runoff rates of many glaciers are changing as the climate changes. Knowledge of glacier hydrology is key to developing sustainable water use for the future.