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Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS)


The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), a Science and Technology Center led by the University of Kansas, will conduct and foster multi-disciplinary research that will result in technology and models necessary to achieve a better understanding of the mass balance of the polar ice sheets (e.g., Greenland and Antarctica) and their contributions to sea-level rise. CReSIS will also work to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists and engineers and to benefit society by increasing diversity in science and engineering and by transferring knowledge to industry, the public, policy makers, and the scientific community.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified ice sheet mass balance as one of the largest unknown factors in sea-level change. The range of possible mass balance scenarios developed by IPCC does not account for the rapid changes to ice sheets that glaciologists have observed. The problems associated with determining ice sheet mass balance and creating predictive models of ice sheet dynamics are scientifically and technologically complex. The best way of solving these problems is through a Science and Technology Center, focusing the efforts of a sizeable group of scientists and engineers for a significant period of time on this topic of global scale and high societal relevance. Because of the immense size and complexity of these ice sheets, data from satellite and airborne platforms, combined with ground-based, in-situ measurements and observations, are needed to accurately assess their mass balance state. Technological innovations are needed and will be made in three areas, including sensors, platforms, and cyberinfrastructure. New analytical models and algorithms must be developed to interpret the data and improve understanding of glacial dynamics. Scientists and engineers will work closely in the areas of technological innovation, data collection, and data analysis.

The intellectual merits of the proposed Center are the long-term collaborations it will foster, the structure it will provide to develop and improve important enabling technology, and the systems it will create to gather, synthesize, and interpret new data. The broader impacts of this Center are not only the societal relevance of the topic but also the mechanisms that will be established to train the next generation of scientists and engineers to serve the nation and to provide a forum for policymakers to learn about the impacts of ice sheets on climate change issues. The next generation of researchers should reflect the diversity of our society. To this end, the Center will continue to work closely with two minority-serving institutions, Haskell Indian Nations University (Haskell) in Lawrence, Kansas, and Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The Center will conduct extensive outreach and education programs to attract minority students to careers in science and technology. Sea-level rise is an important issue that requires long-term, multi-disciplinary collaborations among scientists and engineers, which can only be accomplished effectively through the establishment of a Science and Technology Center. Other partners of the Center are Pennsylvania State University, the Ohio State University, and the University of Maine.

List of participating institutions and investigators.

Mountain peaks and glaciers, Transantarctic Mountains

Mountain peaks and glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains. (NSF/USAP photo by Kristan Hutchinson, Raytheon Polar Services Corporation.)

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Polar Programs Advisory Committee Pages
Advisory Committee Home Page Advisory Committee Charter
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Advisory Committee Members Advisory Committee Documents
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Advisory Committee Meetings Committee of Visitors Documents
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Advisory Committee Meeting Materials Polar Programs-supported Workshops