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icy landscape

Science to civics: Fellowship explores changes in the Greenland ice sheet

By Hannah O. Brown

While researching the stream characteristics of the Greenland Ice Sheet, Jon and Ellen Martin have amassed a variety of stories that seem otherworldly and hard to imagine: Helicopter rides across frozen landscapes, hikes across enormous ice sheets, and international flights with over 1,500 pounds of scientific equipment checked as “excess baggage.”

The couple, who are both professors in the Department of Geological Sciences, have teamed up for the past several years to research how retreating ice sheets in Greenland impact mineral weathering reactions and resulting changes in atmospheric CO2 and nutrient delivery to the ocean.

Starting in Fall 2019, they are expanding this research program to focus on changing hydrology, ecology and geochemistry on a broader scale in Greenland, with support from the UF Water Institute through its the 2019 Water Institute Graduate Fellows program. The program receives support from the colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Life and Agricultural Sciences, Journalism and Communications, and the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

“Our aim is to determine what the nutrient fluxes are to the ocean and the greenhouse gases fluxes to the atmosphere as the ice sheet retreats from this,” Jon Martin said. “Greenland provides a wonderful opportunity to understand potential upcoming changes associated with Arctic warming and ice sheet retreat.”

And they are not embarking on this journey alone. The WIGF program includes nine additional faculty and seven doctoral students. The interdisciplinary program will include a range of research activities and, for the first time this year, an emphasis on what they are calling environmental civics for all fellows.

Read more about the 2019 WIGF program.