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Two geographers receive NSF fellowships to study climate change in icy regions


Cracks and openings in the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. Credit: Luke Trusel. All Rights Reserved. UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two incoming graduate students in the Department of Geography were awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFPs) for 2021. Both want to improve climate change modeling; one in the Arctic, the other in the Antarctic.

Nicolle Di Domenico, who is pursuing a master of science, and Emma Robertson, who is pursuing a doctor of philosophy, said that undergraduate fieldwork experiences sparked their interest pursuing climate science. Di Domenico analyzes Alaskan polygonal ground soil samples using an anaerobic chamber, or glove box. It’s used to work with samples that might react and change if they’re exposed to oxygen. Credit: Nicolle Di Domenico. All Rights Reserved. Di Domenico’s area of interest is microtopography, or land area measured in square meters, in an Arctic landscape feature called polygonal ground. Polygonal ground is caused by the uneven thawing and refreezing of Arctic soils, which stores most of the world’s underground carbon and is warming two times faster than anywhere else on Earth.

“Mapping and monitoring polygonal ground is essential to understanding carbon release from soil to atmosphere,” Di Domenico […]

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