In January 2016, Lauren Vargo came to the ARC from New Mexico, where she completed her Masters in Albuquerque doing energy balance modelling of glaciers in the arid Andes. Lauren then worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory working on a new version of the Community Ice Sheet Model (CISM 2.0), under the supervision of ARC graduate Jeremy Fyke.
"Part of the reason I came here is because of Jeremy, he let me know that Huw Horgan, Brian Anderson, and Andrew Mackintosh were looking for a new student to study annual to decadal variability of glaciers in the Southern Alps. Research on the interactions between glaciers and climate, was exactly what I had been looking for in a PhD project, and I was excited for the opportunity to combine field work and glacial modelling in a project."
The first goal of Lauren's research is to use the End of Summer Snowline images, photos taken of 50 New Zealand glaciers each year since 1977, to establish chronologies of glacier length and snowline elevation. Lauren then plans to use these chronologies in conjunction with glacial energy and mass balance modelling and larger general circulation model output to better understand what drives New Zealand glacier mass balance. One of the questions she hopes to answer is how much anthropogenically forced changes in climate, compared to natural forcings, have contributed to changes in glacier extent.
"Using climate and ice sheet models in combination with field observations is very important in understanding how our climate is changing. Using models we can run experiments that can not be done in the real world, including making changes in the climate system and studying how glaciers and ice sheets respond."