Christine Dow

Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair

EV1-234, ext. 43629

Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Glacier Hydrology and Ice Dynamics 

Christine joined the department following a postdoctoral fellowship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Her research interests are focused on the development of subglacial hydrological networks and the impact of this on ice dynamics on a variety of spatial and temporal scales. She analyses these systems using a combination of numerical modelling methods and data integration.

Key areas of graduate supervision:

Numerical modeling, glacial hydrology, ice dynamics, glaciology data collection.

Research interests:

My research interests center in glacial hydrology and ice dynamics. In particular, I use numerical models of subglacial water flow combined with remote sensing and in situ data to determine the impact of hydrological development underneath ice sheets and valley glaciers on ice flow.

My current research has three primary themes:

  1. Using numerical models to assess stability of subglacial lakes in the Antarctic and their impact on the dynamics of fast-flowing ice streams. These large bodies of water accumulate and drain under the ice on scales of years to decades. I am also interested in the seasonal development of Greenland subglacial hydrological networks, particularly in regions of inland ice where the warming climate is allowing greater access of water to the bed of the ice sheet.
  2. Field-based data collection from surge-type glaciers in the Yukon. I go to my Yukon field sites several times a year and collect data from dGPS networks, time-lapse cameras and in situ hot water borehole drilling. These data are being applied to analysis of surging glacier dynamics and also hydrological modeling.
  3. Geophysical analysis of ice shelf stability in the Antarctic. I use aerial and ground-based geophysical data, along with remote sensing and modeling approaches to assess controls on ice shelf stability, which controls the rate of grounded Antarctic ice flow into the ocean, and therefore sea level rise.

Cumulatively, these research interests aim to answer questions about the future of glaciers and ice sheets in our changing climate and contribute to predictions of ice-climate feedbacks.

Potential graduate student projects:

I welcome inquiries from students interested pursuing a Masters or PhD in glacial dynamics. Current PhD topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigation of surging glacier dynamics in the Yukon Territory
  • Supraglacial hydrology modeling on ice sheets and valley glaciers
  • Assessing ice dynamic controls on fractures forming in Antarctic ice shelves
  • Modelling the impact of basal hydrology on grounding line stability in the Antarctic
  • Testing the applicability of subglacial hydrology equations using in situ data
  • Assessing subglacial sediment characteristics from glaciers in the Yukon Territory

Please contact me if you would like to discuss these projects or other potential avenues of research.

Recent publications

Note: student authors under my supervision are indicated by *

  1. Van Wychen, W., Bayer, C., Copland, L., Brummell, E. and Dow, C.F. (2023) Radarsat Constellation Mission Derived Winter Glacier Velocities for the St. Elias Icefield, Yukon/Alaska: 2022 and 2023, Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, 49 (1), 2264395.
  2. Zheng, W., Bhushan, S., Van Wyk De Vries, M., Kochtitzky, W., Shean, D., Copland, L., Dow, C., Jones-Ivey, R. and Pérez, F. (2023) GLAcier Feature Tracking testkit (GLAFT): A statistically-and physically-based framework for evaluating glacier velocity products derived from satellite image feature tracking. The Cryosphere, 17 (9), 4063-4078.
  3. *Hayden, A-M, Dow, C.F.  (2023) Examining the effect of ice dynamic changes on subglacial hydrology through modelling of a synthetic Antarctic glacier. Journal of Glaciology, 1-14
  4. *Hill, T. and Dow, C. (2023) The Impact of Interannual Melt Supply Variability on Greenland Ice Sheet Moulin Inputs. The Cryosphere, 17 (7), 2607–2624.
  5. Gwyther, D.E., Dow, C.F., Jendersie, S., Gourmelen, N., Galton-Fenzi, B.K. (2023) Subglacial freshwater drainage increases simulated basal melt of the Totten ice shelf. Geophysical Research Letters, 50 (12), e2023GL103765.
  6. Makinen, J, Dow, C.F., Ahokangas, E., Ojala, A., Kajuutti, K., Kautto, J., Palmu, J-P. (2023) Water blister geomorphology and subglacial drainage sediments: an example from the bed of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet in SW Finland. Journal of Glaciology, 1-17.
  7. *Painter, M,, Copland, L., Dow, C.F., Kochtitzky, W., Medrzycka, D. (2023) Patterns and mechanisms of repeat drainages of glacier-dammed Dań Zhùr (Donjek) Lake, Yukon. Arctic Science, 1-16.
  8. Dow, C.F. (2023) The role of subglacial hydrology in Antarctic ice sheet dynamics and stability: a modelling perspective. Annals of Glaciology, 1-6.
  9. Summers, P., Elsworth, C.,  Dow, C.F., Suckale, J. (2023) Migration of the Shear Margins at Thwaites Glacier: Dependence on Basal Conditions and Testability Against Field Data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 128(3), e2022JF006958
  10. *Bash, E.A., Wecker, L.,  Rahman, M.M., Dow, C.F., McDermid, G., Samavati, F.F., Whitehead, K., Moorman, B.J., Medrzycka, D., Copland, L. A. (2023) Multi-Resolution Approach to Point Cloud Registration without Control Points. Remote Sensing, 15 (1161).
  11. Ehrenfeucht, S., Morlighem, M., Rignot, E., Dow, C., Mouginot J. (2023) Seasonal acceleration of Petermann Glacier, from changes in subglacial hydrology. Geophysical Research Letters, e2022GL098009
  12. Main, B., Copland, L, Smeda, B., Kochtitzky, W., Samsonov, S., Dudley, J., Skidmore, M., Dow, C., VanWychen, W., Medryzcka, D., Higgs, E. and Mingo, L. (2022) Terminus change of Kaskawulsh Glacier, Yukon, under a warming climate: retreat, thinning, slowdown, and modified proglacial lake geometry. Journal of Glaciology, 69 (276), 936-952.
  13. Dow, C.F., Ross, N., Jeofry, H., *Siu, K. and Siegert, M. (2022) Antarctic basal environment shaped by high-pressure flow through a subglacial river system. Nature Geoscience. 15(11), 892-898.
  14. *Bash, E.A., Shellian, C, Dow, C.F., McDermid, G., Kochtitzky, W., Medrzycka, D and Copland, L. (2023) A Semi-automated, GIS-based Framework for the Mapping of Supraglacial Hydrology. Journal of Glaciology. 69 (276), 708-722.
  15. McCormack, F.S., Roberts, J.L., Dow, C.F., Stål, T., Halpin, J.A., Reading, A.M. and Siegert, M.J., (2022) Fine‐scale geothermal heat flow in Antarctica can increase simulated subglacial melt estimates. Geophysical Research Letters, p.e2022GL098539.
  16. Friedrichs, D., McInerney, J., Oldroyd, H., Lee, W. S., Yun, S., Yoon, S-T., Stevens, C., Zappa, C., Dow, C., Mueller, D., Steiner, O. S. and Forrest. A. (2022) Observations of submesoscale eddy-driven heat transport at an ice shelf calving front. Nature Communications Earth & Environment, 3, 1-9
  17. England, J.H., Coulthard, R.D., Furze, M.F.A., Dow, C.F. (2022) Catastrophic ice shelf collapse along the NW Laurentide Ice Sheet highlights the vulnerability of marine-based ice margins. Quaternary Science Reviews, 286, 10752.
  18. McCormack, F.S., Warner, R.C., Seroussi, H., Dow, C.F., Roberts, J.L. and Treverrow, A., Modeling the deformation regime of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, using a simple flow relation for ice anisotropy (ESTAR) (2022) Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 127 (3) p.e2021JF006332.
  19. Livingstone, S.J., Li, Y., Rutishauser, A., Sanderson, R.J., Winter, K., Mikucki, J.A., Björnsson, H., Bowling, J.S., Chu, W., Dow, C.F., Fricker, H.A., McMillan, M., Ng, F., Ross, N., Siegert, M., Siegfried, M. and Sole, A.J. (2022). Subglacial lakes and their changing role in a warming climate. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment 3, 106-124.
  20. *Hill, T. and Dow, C.F., (2021). Modeling the dynamics of supraglacial rivers and distributed meltwater flow with the Subaerial Drainage System (SaDS) model. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 126(12), p.e2021JF006309.
  21. *Killingbeck, S.F., Dow, C.F. and Unsworth, M.J. (2021). A quantitative method for deriving salinity of subglacial water using ground-based transient electromagnetics. Journal of Glaciology, 68(268), 319-336.
  22. *Hill, T., Dow, C.F., *Bash, E., and Copland, L. (2021) Application of an improved surface energy balance model to two large valley glaciers in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon. Journal of Glaciology, 67(262), 297-312.
  23. *Indrigo, C., Dow, C.F., Greenbaum, J.S., and Morlighem, M. (2021) Drygalski Ice Tongue stability influenced by rift formation and ice morphology. Journal of Glaciology, 67(262), 243-252.
  24. Kochtitzky, W., Copland, L., Painter, M., and Dow, C.F. (2020) Draining and filling of ice dammed lakes at the terminus of surge-type Dań Zhùr (Donjek) Glacier, Yukon, Canada.  Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 57(11), 1337-1348. doi:10.1139/cjes-2019-0233.
  25. Wei, W., Blankenship, D., Greenbaum, J., Gourmelen, N., Dow, C.F., Richter, T., Greene, C., Young, D., Lee, S., Kim, T., and Lee, W.S. (2020). Getz Ice Shelf melt enhanced by freshwater discharge from beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The Cryosphere, 14(4), 1399-1408. doi:10.5194/tc-14-1399-2020.
  26. Dow, C.F., McCormack, F., Young, D., Greenbaum, J., Roberts, J., and Blankenship, D. (2020). Totten Glacier subglacial hydrology determined from geophysics and modeling. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 531, 115961. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115961.
  27. Riverman, K.L., Anadakrishnan, S., Alley, R.B., Holschuh, N., Dow, C.F., Muto, A., Parizek, B.R., Christiansen, K., and Peters, L.E. (2019). Wet subglacial bedforms of the NE Greenland Ice Stream shear margins. Annals of Glaciology, 60(80), 91-99. doi:10.1017/aog.2019.43.
  28. Poinar, K, Dow, C.F., and Andrews, L.C. (2019). Long-term support of an active subglacial hydrologic system in Southeast Greenland by firn aquifers. Geophysical Research Letters, 46(9), 4772-4781. doi:10.1029/2019GL082786.
  29. Sanders, J.W., Cuffey, K.M., MacGregor, K.R., Kavanaugh, J.L., and Dow, C.F. (2018). Variations in the surface velocity of an alpine cirque glacier. Journal of Glaciology, 64(248), 969-976. doi:10.1017/jog.2018.85.
  30. De Fleurian, B., Werder, M.A., Beyer, S., Brinkerhoff, D.J., Delaney, I., Dow, C.F., Downs, J., Gagliardini, O., Hoffman, M.J., Hooke, R.LeB., Seguinot, J., and Sommers, A.N. (2018). SHMIP: The Subglacial Hydrology Model Intercomparison Project. Journal of Glaciology, 64(248), 897-916. doi:10.1017/jog.2018.78.
  31. Dow C.F., Lee W.S., Greenbaum J.S., Blankenship D.D., Greene C.A., Poinar K., Forrest A.L., Young D.A., and Zappa C.J. (2018). Basal channels drive active surface hydrology and transverse ice-shelf fracture. Science Advances, 4(6), eaao7212. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao7212.
  32. Dow, C.F., Werder, M.A., Nowicki, S., Walker, R.T., Babonis, G., Csatho, B., and Morlighem, M. (2018). Dynamics of active subglacial lakes in Recovery Ice Stream. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123(4), 837-850. doi:10.1002/2017JF004409.
  33. Dow, C. F., Karlsson, N. B., and Werder, M. A. (2018). Limited impact of subglacial supercooling freeze‐on for Greenland Ice Sheet stratigraphy. Geophysical Research Letters45(3), 1481-1489. doi:10.1002/2017GL076251.