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 Sea Level And Ice (329C): People
Catherine C Walker's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 300-323
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
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Catherine C Walker

  • Ph.D., Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, (2013)
  • M.S., Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, (2010)
  • B.A., Astronomy and Geology, Mount Holyoke College, (2007)

Research Interests

The main theme of my research is the dynamics of ice, whether it exists on Earth or in space.

On Earth, I focus on the processes that affect the evolution of ice sheets, glaciers and ice shelves and how they interact with external climate forcing and internal structural effects. The main avenue in this regard concerns the mechanics of fracture, rifting, iceberg calving and collapse of ice. These processes likely account for up to two thirds of all ice mass lost from the Earth’s poles to the oceans, a fact that has important implications for future sea level rise. While up until now I have mostly focused on Antarctica’s ice shelves, I am also shifting towards the Arctic and the use of imagery and altimetry over Greenland’s glaciers to improve collapse predictability there. I am the Science PI on a recently-selected Operation IceBridge research proposal that involves using IceBridge data to evaluate the stability of four of Greenland’s glaciers (Rink, Helheim, Jakobshavn, and Kangerdlussuaq).

In space, I mainly focus on bringing what we know about these processes in terrestrial ice to the mysterious ice shells of outer planet satellites. I study the overturn of the thick ice shells of these moons, which has significant implications for the existence and maintenance of any possible life there. The timescale and magnitude of ice shell overturn and processes that contribute to the dynamics of the ice itself are the primary targets of my planetary research.


Habitability of Hydrocarbon Worlds: Titan and Beyond Icon Habitability of Hydrocarbon Worlds: Titan and Beyond
NASA Astrobiology Institute

Professional Experience
  • NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, JPL/Caltech (2015-present)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Georgia Institute of Technology – School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (2013-2015)
  • Special Placement Intern/Visiting Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (2007-2008)
  • Research Associate, The NASA Academy, Goddard Space Flight Center (2007)
  • Student Researcher, University of New Hampshire – Space Science Center (2005-2007)

Selected Awards
  • NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowship (2015)
  • NASA ROSES – Operation IceBridge grant (2014-2017)
  • Michigan Space Grant Consortium Fellowship (2010-2013)
  • NASA Student Ambassador (2009-2013)
  • University of Michigan – Rackham Graduate School Merit Fellowship (2008-2012)

Selected Publications
  1. Walker, C. C., J. N. Bassis, and C. P. Borstad, Vertical propagation of closely-spaced fractures in a planetary ice shell: Implications for shell thickness and the role of basal cracks (in prep.)
  2. Spears, A., M. E. West, M. R. Meister, C. C. Walker, J. J. Buffo, T. Collins, A. Howard & B. E. Schmidt (submitted). The Icefin Under-Ice Unmanned Underwater Vehicle: Development And Deployment In Antarctica, IEEE Robotics and Automation.
  3. Walker, C. C. and B. E. Schmidt (2015), Ice collapse over trapped water bodies on Enceladus and Europa, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42: 712–719. doi: 10.1002/ 2014GL062405.
  4. Walker, C. C., J. N. Bassis, H. A. Fricker, and R. J. Czerwinski (2015). Observations of interannual and spatial variability in rift propagation in the Amery Ice Shelf, Antarctica, 2002-2014, J. of Glaciology, 61(226), 243-252, doi:10.3189/2015JoG14J151.
  5. Walker, C. C., J. N. Bassis, H. A. Fricker, and R. J. Czerwinski (2013), Structural and environmental controls on Antarctic ice shelf rift propagation inferred from satellite monitoring, J. Geophys. Res.-Earth Surf., 118, doi:10.1002/2013JF002742.
  6. Walker, C. C., J. N. Bassis, and M. W. Liemohn (2012). On the application of simple rift basin models to the south polar region of Enceladus, J. Geophys. Res.-Planets, 117, E07003, doi:10.1029/2012JE004084.
  7. Bassis, J. N. and C. C. Walker (2011). Upper and lower limits on the stability of calving glaciers from the yield strength envelope of ice, Proceedings of the Royal Society A, doi: 10.1098/rspa.2011.0422, 1-18.

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