May 8, 2009
From disappearing Arctic sea ice to the rapid disintegration of 10,000 year-old Antarctic ice shelves, the Earth’s ice cover is changing in remarkable ways. Because ice plays a critical role in shaping our planet’s environment, understanding changes like these is crucial. Scientists’ ability to investigate the dramatic behavior of the Earth’s vast and remote frozen regions has been greatly enhanced in recent years by the development of sophisticated satellite observation capabilities. The space-based view provides both perspective and context that enable new insights into how and why ice is changing and what these changes may mean for life on Earth.
Waleed Abdalati is the Director of the Earth Science and Observation Center at CIRES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences), University of Colorado, Boulder. His research interests are in the use of satellite and airborne remote sensing techniques, integrated with in situ observations and modeling, to understand how and why the Earth's ice cover is changing, and what those changes mean for life on Earth. In particular, his research focuses on the contributions of ice sheets and high-latitude glaciers to sea level rise and their relationship to the changing climate. Toward that end, he has been heavily involved in the development of NASA's Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) and its successor, ICESat-II, and has worked on cryospheric applications of various other satellites and aircraft instruments. Most of his research is supported by NASA, where he worked as a scientist for 12 years, before joining CIRES. Dr. Abdalati has degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering Sciences and received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado's Program in Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences. He was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the White House in 1999 and received a NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 2004.