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Mike MacFerrin, PhD

Scientist  |  Educator  |  Expeditioner  |  Public Speaker  |  Inventor

My research investigates the numerous ways that meltwater and climate is rapidly changing the Arctic and Antarctic environments, with particular emphasis on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. I am an educator, having taught students from kindergarten through the twenty-second grade, and an avid public speaker interested in connecting our human experiences and politics to the environment in which we live. In addition to public research, I am actively involved in developing new field instruments to better detect changes in the polar environments (see the section on "FirnCo Instruments", below). When not working, you can find me either playing with my kids, running, or deeply trekking across the backcountry in any season of the year.

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The research amasses and analyzes large datasets over polar environments to describe new and emerging processes that are changing the face and behavior of those landscapes. The methods I use are broad and usually involve a mix of fieldwork, remote sensing (optical, radar, and others), climate models, and new instrumentation. A selection of peer-reviewed research articles is posted below. A full list of publications are available on my CV or Google Scholar.

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MacFerrin, M., Machguth, H., Van As, D., Charalampidis, C., Stevens, C. M., Vandecrux, B., Heilig, A., Langen, P., Mottram, R., Fettweis, X., Van den Broeke, M.R., Moussavi, M., Abdalati, W. (2019). Rapid expansion of Greenland’s low-permeability ice slabs. Nature.

Nature Climate Change

Machguth, H., MacFerrin, M., van As, D., Box, J. E., Charalampidis, C., Colgan, W., … van de Wal, R. S. W. (2016). Greenland meltwater storage in firn limited by near-surface ice formation. Nature Climate Change, 6(4), 390–393.

Geophysical Research Letters

Colgan, W., Machguth, H., MacFerrin, M., Colgan, J. D., van As, D., & MacGregor, J. A. (2016). The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate. Geophysical Research Letters, 2016GL069688.

The Cryosphere

Larson, K. M., MacFerrin, M., & Nylen, T. (2020). Brief Communication: Update on the GPS reflection technique for measuring snow accumulation in Greenland. The Cryosphere, 14(6), 1985–1988.



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Geography, 2018

PhD University of Colorado

"Rapid expansion of Greenland's low-permeability ice slabs", published in Nature, Advisor: Dr. Waleed Abdalati

Computer Science, 2012

MS University of Colorado

"Turtle Geometry: Constructivist Software using Science on the Sphere", published in the International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, Advisor: Dr. Michael Eisenberg

Computer Engineering, 2001

BSE University of Michigan

Specialization in software design and engineering



My background as a school teacher combined with a PhD in Earth sciences has provided an ability to speak to the public about complex scientific topics in compelling and engaging ways. Age ranges of my audiences have varied from pre-school to retirement homes, from 1:1 meetings with legislators to international audiences on television. If you are interested in inviting me for a talk or presentation, Contact Me at the form at the bottom of this page.

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Secrets in the Ice

Glaciologist expert for Science Channel series

Experts and scientists explain lost relics from some of the coldest places on Earth.

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More Than Scientists

Featured Scientist

A collaborative effort born of long experience in climate activism combining with concerned scientists seeking to help get the word out about where the science currently stands.

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National Geographic

Feature article in National Geographic regarding recent high-impact research on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

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Third Pod From The Sun

Featured speaker on podcast about Camp Century in Greenland.


FirnCo Instruments

As the polar environments are changing, so is the need for new and novel measurement techniques. I currently build a set of field-deployable firn strain-meters to measure compaction rates in polar firn. We are currently developing and testing snow-water-equivalent sensors using multi-frequency differential GPS receivers. Contact me for details or a quote.

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