Glacial geology is the study of the physical properties and movement of ice sheets and glaciers. A glaciologist's goal is to find out whether ice sheets are growing or shrinking in order to learn about global sea level and climate changes.
The minimum educational requirement for glaciologists is a bachelor's of science (with honors) degree in geology; however, employment as a field researcher or a postsecondary instructor requires a master's or doctoral degree in glaciology.
Glaciology research stations include in the far north, such as in Antarctica, or on mountains around the world. Glaciology often requires working in extremely remote locations, under cold, hard conditions; glaciologists only work in the field on clear days to reduce potential dangers.
Glaciologists conduct research on ice caps, permafrost and glaciers by collecting samples of ice, and studying ice formations.
Glaciologists hike in freezing conditions over deep fissures. Wearing proper safety equipment is essential to glaciology work; equipment includes full body harness and crash helmets.
Glaciologists use remote sensing techniques, such as satellite images, to monitor ice movement and changes in elevation. Other methods include taking ice core samples to analyze annual growth layers.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Dominic Alves