Ice, Climate & Environment Lab (ICELab)

Ice, Climate, & Environment Laboratory (ICELab)

Prospective Students

Graduate and undergraduate students have been a central part of sustaining glacier research activities on Axel Heiberg Island for the last six-decades. If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies or an undergraduate project with ICELab, please contact Dr. Laura Thomson at

Current Students

Dana Stephenson (MSc candidate): Examining firn densification patterns on White Glacier

Photo of Dana Stephenson

Dana is investigating the spatial patterns of, and temporal changes to, high-Arctic glacier firn zones using a combination of ice-penetrating radar techniques, firn-core measurements, and spatial analysis. High-elevation firn zones are a significant source of uncertainty in glacier mass change studies as a result of their capacity for meltwater retention and through surface lowering by densification. Based at White Glacier on Axel Heiberg Island, NU, Dana’s research seeks to determine the topographic controls on firn distribution and distribution changes in response to regional warming over the past twenty years. When not riding snowmobiles or working in the lab, Dana enjoys running, bouldering, and bringing together fellow graduate students for camping trips and other shenanigans.

Braden Smeda (MSc candidate): Small ice cap changes in the Canadian Arctic

Photo of Braden Smeda

Co-supervised with Dr. Luke Copland at the University of Ottawa, Braden is using a combination of field-based and remote sensing methods to investigate changes to small (<1 km2) glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic. Small glaciers are highly sensitive to recent climate warming yet notably understudied, particularly at individual basin scales. As part of this project, Braden is conducting fieldwork to study the long-term mass losses and future fate of Baby Glacier on Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut. This will be achieved using the Baby Glacier mass balance record alongside historic and contemporary air photos and Structure from Motion techniques to build 3D models to determine changes to glacier volume. When not busying himself with science, Braden enjoys Pogos, travelling the world, hiking in Gatineau Park, and water skiing in Muskoka.

Jeremiah Lee (MSc candidate): Structural dynamics of the cold-/temperate-ice transition zone

Photo of Jeremiah Lee

Jeremiah is investigating how glacier surface structures (faults, folds, and crevasses) respond to changes in ice thickness, flow dynamics and thermal regime of White Glacier on Axel Heiberg Island, NU. White Glacier is one of the few polar glaciers to host detailed information about surface structures dating back >50 years. Using historic air photos and maps alongside new photo surveys, Jeremiah will be creating 3D models of the White Glacier terminus and conducting field measurements to assess the evolution of surface structures and test for structural evidence of the cold-/temperate-ice transition zone. When not obsessing over glacier thrust faults, Jeremiah enjoys a range of outdoor activities and honing his culinary abilities for the field.

Shona Birkett (Summer research assistant): Multi-decadal snow pit analysis

Photo of Shona Birkett

Shona hails from the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy at Queen’s University and has taken on the ambitious task of digitizing >30 years of snow-pit data from the White Glacier mass balance records. This snow-pit data includes not only the key snow-water equivalent values used for our mass balance calculations, but also detailed information about individual snow-layer densities, thicknesses, grain shape and grain size. Shona is creating a snow-pit database and accompanying analytical tools that provide new insight into snow accumulation patterns that will inform our studies about firn formation and distribution. When not deep into 30 years of field books, Shona practices Bob Ross painting tutorials online - we are all excited to see a painting of a “happy little glacier” soon!