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Exploring Earth's equations

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Jenny Suckale teaching
Photo credit: Stacy Geiken

Jenny Suckale

Assistant Professor

October 18, 2017

Geophysics professor Jenny Suckale uses the Navier-Stokes equation to attempt to explain puzzling satellite imagery that shows Antarctica is melting from the inside out. "Ice from the continent's interior forms streams that flow out to sea," Suckale said. "These ice streams are almost like arteries that help transport ice from the center of Antarctica to the coast very rapidly. It's like a bleeding heart in some sense."

Explaining the dynamics of that bleeding heart could have implications for climate change computer models. Ice melt is currently one of the biggest uncertainties in climate simulations, and Antarctica is the single largest mass of ice on Earth. “I think the Earth sciences just have way cooler problems than anything I've personally encountered in classical physics. It's tangible, it's real, it's important, it's fascinating, it's dramatic, and it’s colorful," she said.