INTERNATIONAL ARCTIC RESEARCH CENTER — UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS

People of IARC

molly_tedesche

Molly Tedesche

Molly Tedesche studies snow hydrology and climate change, and the impacts on mountain watersheds, ecology, and indigenous cultures of Alaska and the Arctic. 

Contact Molly Tedesche

What might interest people about your recent work?

I’m currently profiling older snow—that which remains in colder climates over a long period of time—and how its accumulation and ablation (melting/disappearance) can affect the management of Alaska National Park Service (NPS) resources.

I’ve been working in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska’s Brooks Range mountains to examine its unique perennial snowfields, which have experienced significant reductions due to warming temperatures. Over history, these snowfields have built up like glaciers but they don’t move.

Studying these mountainous snowfields is important for many reasons. For one, changes in perennial snow cover in the Brooks Range might be affecting caribou and other wildlife in the Park. This could have an impact on local Native Alaskan subsistence hunters.

lso, this old ice and snow could be freezing and preserving archeological and paleoecological specimens, as has been observed in perennial snowfields in other places. Finally, these changes also provide essential indicators and metrics for climate change.

For the NPS and other management agencies, recognizing the ways snowfields are altered can provide a more thorough and accurate way of planning for the future.

I’m also heavily involved in science education and outreach, including UAF’s NSF-funded CASE (Changing Alaska Science Education) GK-12 program, the Alaska Summer Research Academy (ASRA), and Girl Scouts of Alaska Rural Southwest.

I’ve taught science lessons in local Fairbanks schools, as well as in remote Alaska villages around the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Bristol Bay, Bering Sea, and in Arctic Northwest.

Have you always been interested in climate science?

I’m originally from upstate New York, but I’ve been drawn to the remote, open landscapes of the western U.S. for a long time. During and after my undergraduate education, I learned a lot about hydrology and ecology with the Student Conservation Association in National Parks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, where I became fascinated by snow dynamics. From there, I decided to study snow hydrology and watershed science formally for my master’s degree in Colorado.

Do you have other interests or pastimes aside from your research?

I really love teaching and mountaineering, and I am fascinated with Central Asian and Native Alaskan cultures. I studied Himalayan Buddhism and art in India in 2008 and I was a Fulbright Scholar in Mongolia in 2010.

I have been a forest ranger, I’ve taught snowboarding, and I also teach yoga. I love skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, running, gardening, and fishing. I’m very glad to be connected to so many of my favorite activities through my research and science work.

Tedesche (left) and field partner, National Park Service Archaeologist Chris Ciancibelli, collect fine scale GPS field data of a perennial snowfield's extent, to compare on-the-ground measurements with modeled extent derived from remotely sensed satellite information in the central Brooks Range, Northern Alaska. (Photo by R. Swisher)
Tedesche (left) and field partner, National Park Service Archaeologist Chris Ciancibelli, collect fine scale GPS field data of a perennial snowfield's extent, to compare on-the-ground measurements with modeled extent derived from remotely sensed satellite information in the central Brooks Range, Northern Alaska. (Photo by R. Swisher)
Tedesche uses a depth probe to measure the depth of softer top layers of snow and an ice auger to measure the depth of harder, older layers of snow, firn, and ice in the central Brooks Range, Northern Alaska. (Photo by C. Ciancibelli)
Tedesche uses a depth probe to measure the depth of softer top layers of snow and an ice auger to measure the depth of harder, older layers of snow, firn, and ice in the central Brooks Range, Northern Alaska. (Photo by C. Ciancibelli)
Tedesche helps elementary school students build a groundwater model in a box in the village of Unalakleet on the Bering Sea, Alaska. (Photo by S. Kieper)
Tedesche helps elementary school students build a groundwater model in a box in the village of Unalakleet on the Bering Sea, Alaska. (Photo by S. Kieper)
Tedesche helps Girl Scouts use a current meter to find out how fast a village stream flows into Six Mile Lake in the village of Nondalton, Southwest Alaska. (Photo by A. Gore)
Tedesche helps Girl Scouts use a current meter to find out how fast a village stream flows into Six Mile Lake in the village of Nondalton, Southwest Alaska. (Photo by A. Gore)
Tedesche uses a test profile snow pit to determine physical structure and layering of snow crystals and ice lenses in the central Brooks Range, Northern Alaska. (Photo by C. Ciancibelli)
Tedesche uses a test profile snow pit to determine physical structure and layering of snow crystals and ice lenses in the central Brooks Range, Northern Alaska. (Photo by C. Ciancibelli)