Luke D. Trusel
Postdoctoral Scholar
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Department of Geology and Geophysics

I am a Doherty Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

My research focuses on understanding Earth’s cryosphere and its linkages with the broader climate system. Harnessing observations, modeling, and proxies, I seek to assess these cryosphere-climate interactions and situate the present within a temporal context spanning the past into the future.

Previously, I was a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow in the Polar Science Research Laboratory of the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University.


Future Antarctic melt trajectories

This research published in Nature Geoscience assesses the evolution of surface melt across Antarctic ice shelves over the recent past and under two future IPCC climate scenarios. Utilizing observations and climate modeling, we find ice shelf melting is nonlinearly related to air temperature. This means that as climate warms, melting can increase very rapidly. Ice shelves in existing warmer regions like the Antarctic Peninsula are therefore particularly sensitive to temperature change. Over the last few decades in this region, warming has increased melt to the point where several ice shelves have collapsed. Land-based ice that once fed these collapsed ice shelves has accelerated its flow into the ocean, adding to sea level. Over the coming century, we find melt increases across Antarctica to levels similar to today's Antarctic Peninsula. In the mid-range RCP4.5 scenario, melt overwhelmingly remains below intensisites that occurred on ice shelves that have collapsed. However, following the high emissions scenario of RCP8.5, melting intensifies to levels comparable to that expereinced on now-collapsed ice shelves of the northeast Antarctic Peninsula. This work underscores an important human influence on the past and future evolution of melting in Antarctica. And while not predicting ice shelf collapse, our projected melt increases would combine with already existing ocean-induced ice shelf melting, thus raising concern about the future stability of many Antarctic ice shelves.


Spring 2015 Greenland fieldwork

In April and May 2015, I was part of a team of WHOI glaciologists collecting firn cores from the Greenland ice sheet and ice caps around Disko Bay, central west Greenland. A major goal of this project is to develop ice core records of past sea surface conditions that predate the modern satellite era. Our firn cores also present an opportunity to investigate past variability in surface melting, and thus develop an important spatial and temporal context for the recent melt intensification across this sector of Greenland. Read more about the project in an article I wrote for the National Ice Core Laboratory's In Depth Newsletter.


Remotely sensing surface melt

In Geophysical Research Letters, we present novel, satellite-based estimates of Antarctic surface meltwater production. This study calibrates and assesses radar backscatter measurements during melt from the QuikSCAT satellite with melt derived from ground-based modeling of the surface energy balance. We also find that over most ice sheet and ice shelf areas, our satellite-based results significantly agree with surface meltwater production simulated by the state of the art regional climate model, RACMO2.1. Across inner Larsen C ice shelf (LCIS) on the Antarctic Peninsula (AP), our satellite results indicate persistent and intense melting consistent with the influence of warm föhn winds descending from the nearby AP mountains. This pattern of melt observed on LCIS is spatially consistent with recently reported LCIS thinning, affirming the importance of surface melt to firn compaction and overall LCIS volume reductions.


Melt ponds on George VI Ice Shelf.

Publications & CV
Trusel, L. D., K. E. Frey, S. B. Das, K. B. Karnauskas, P. Kuipers Munneke, E. van Meijgaard, and M. R. van den Broeke (2015), Divergent trajectories of Antarctic surface melt under two twenty-first-century climate scenarios. Nature Geoscience, 8, (12), 927-932 doi:10.1038/ngeo2563.

Trusel, L. D., K. E. Frey, S. B. Das, P. Kuipers Munneke, and M. R. van den Broeke (2013), Satellite-based estimates of Antarctic surface meltwater fluxes, Geophysical Research Letters, 40, doi:10.1002/2013GL058138.

Abram, N. J., R. Mulvaney, E. W. Wolff, J. Triest, S. Kipfstuhl, L. D. Trusel, F. Vimeux, L. Fleet, and C. Arrowsmith (2013), Acceleration of snow melt in an Antarctic Peninsula ice core during the twentieth century, Nature Geoscience, 6, (5), 404-411 doi:10.1038/ngeo1787.

Trusel, L. D., K. E. Frey, and S. B. Das (2012), Antarctic surface melting dynamics: Enhanced perspectives from radar scatterometer data, Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, 117, F02023, doi:10.1029/2011JF002126.
Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar
Recent publications

Twitter: @highlatitude.

Mailing address: 266 Woods Hole Rd. / MS #23 / Woods Hole, Massachusetts, 02543, USA.