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Hello. My name is Martin Jeffries. I am a glaciologist who studies sea ice thickness and formation in Antarctica. I'm interested in the interaction between the air, the sea ice, and the ocean. Sea ice plays an important role in the exchange of energy between the ocean and atmosphere (and vice versa) and it has a significant impact on regional and global climate change.

Sea ice freezes from sea water and grows to cover large areas of polar oceans during winter. It mostly melts away again each summer. Photograph by S. Shipp, Rice University.

Before I Became a Scientist
As a teenager, I played soccer and cricket and collected stamps. I enjoyed geography and history; I didn't like physics, chemistry, or mathematics. I've found that physics and mathematics are essential to the study of sea ice and their use is unavoidable; I certainly have had to draw on them often throughout my career. I no longer dislike the subjects as much as I did, although sometimes I am surprised I ended up a scientist.

How I Became a Glaciologist
I became interested in glaciology as an undergraduate at the University of Sheffield, England, where one of the most interesting classes I took was entitled "Glaciers and Landscape." After graduation from the University of Sheffield I worked as a research assistant on a project on ice caps on the Arctic Circle in Norway where I became even more interested in glacier studies, and in studying overseas. I went to graduate school at the University of Calgary, Canada, expecting to study glacier hydrology in the Rocky Mountains. However, good luck led me to northernmost Ellesmere Island on the Arctic Ocean way up north in Canada to study ancient (3000 year) and multiyear sea ice. I have been studying sea ice and lake ice ever since. I now work at the Geophysical Institute of Alaska.

What I'm Studying Now
A few topics I am investigating right now are the variation of sea ice thickness and snow depth across space and time and the changes in heat and salt content in sea water and ice when sea ice forms and thickens. I also study the formation of snow ice from flooding of ice floes, the motion of sea ice, and the changing shape of the sea ice surface.

Drilling through the sea ice. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Kelchner, Rice University.

Much of what is compelling about this research is related to the excitement and privilege of being able to work in remote Antarctic waters where so few people are able to visit. So much is new and much remains to be learned and understood in Antarctica. The sense of privilege of being able to study there, and with funding from the National Science Foundation, can not be exaggerated.

What I Do When I'm Not Floating on Sea Ice in the Polar Ocean
I enjoy reading, stamp collecting (including stamps of the polar regions), and walking or hiking.

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