CR Cryospheric Sciences
The 2012 Division Outstanding Young Scientists Award is awarded to Gaël Durand for his contributions in the understanding of polar ice dynamics from micro-scale to macro-scale.
Gaël Durand has made several important contributions to the field of glaciology. During his PhD-thesis his original work on the texture analysis of the EPICA Dome C ice core provided landmark scientific results. Performing the whole process himself, from measurement to modeling, Durand discovered a remarkable correlation between grain size and the main climatic signal in the ice core. He demonstrated that this correlation is driven by the insoluble impurities content which itself changes with climate. He showed that textural changes at small depth scales along the ice sheet could significantly impact the thinning function and thus the ice core dating. After completion of his PhD Durand applied his methods to the NorthGRIP ice core and developed software for ice texture.
More recently, Durand has focused on the study of grounding line dynamics of ice sheets, one of the key parameters driving the behaviour of fast ice stream glaciers, and thus future sea-level changes, based on full Stokes ice sheet modeling. His work represents a major contribution to a crucial missing process in ice-sheet flow models and the finite element model Elmer/Ice is now recognized as a reference for many other models and numerical approximations when analytical solution are lacking.