Glaciology is the study of snow and ice and their physical properties. More specifically, glaciologists analyse the formation, movement, and effects of the different kinds of glaciers, for example alpine and arctic glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and ice shelves. A large part of the research conducted by glaciologists analyses how glaciers and ice caps move and change in response to climate change and how these changes in turn influence climate and the surrounding environment.

Job duties:

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a glaciologist:

1.Conduct research on ice sheets, shelves, fields, and caps, as well as alpine and arctic glaciers and snow.
2.Collect samples of ice and snow to test for various criteria, including physical properties, chemical composition, and evidence of life in the ice.
3.Design experiments both in the lab and in the field.
4.Use satellite and airborne remote sensing devices to study ice distribution and behaviour.
5.Write reports on experimental findings and synthesize research.
6.Install and test instruments.
7.Communicate with the media and general public on historical and modern glacial activity and its relevance to climate change.
8.Collaborate with other glaciologists and professionals.

Work environment:

Glaciologists work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:

In the office:

1.Doing paperwork and analysing data for reporting
2.Drafting plans and models
3.Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, government departments, and the public, and presenting report findings to clients
4.Researching new technology and advancements in glaciology, and consulting with other glaciology professionals

In the field:

1.Conducting experiments and gathering data in remote field locations
2.Installing and maintaining electronic instrumentation

In the lab:

1.Testing samples and conducting experiments
2.Using remote sensing equipment to study ice and snow
3.Designing and calibrating new instruments

Career opportunities:

1.Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments and parks
2.Colleges, universities, and research institutes
3.Environmental and engineering consulting firms


If you are a high school student considering a career as a glaciologist, you should have strong marks or an interest in:

5.Computer Science

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a glaciologist is a university undergraduate degree, although the majority of positions are in research and require graduate studies. If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as a glaciologist, the following programs are most applicable:

1.Environmental Earth Sciences
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