How to become a glaciologist

A glaciologist is a researcher who studies ice and glaciers: this study can consider different aspects, such as the movement of the glacier, the reaction of ice to different physical conditions, the response to meteorological events, circulation of water within and at the base of a glacier, glaciers in the past and life inside ice. Consequently different kinds of researchers approach the study of ice: physicists, geologists, hydro-geologists, geographers, biologists, palaeontologists and even paleo-anthropologists. Basic preparation can therefore be very different. Notwithstanding Italy’s long historical tradition in glacier research, there are not many university courses in Glaciology unlike many prestigious research institutes abroad (one of the most well-known is the Hydrology and Glaciology Institute of the Zurich Polytechnic) so whoever wants to devote himself to this field of study usually joins specialization courses abroad and registers in specialist associations. The most important of these is the International Glaciological Society, based in Cambridge, which publishes the most prestigious journal in this field – the Journal of Glaciology. In Italy, the Comitato Glaciologico Italiano, supervised by the Commissione Glaciologica (Glaciology Commission) of Club Alpino Italiano, has been working since 1913 in collaboration with universities and research organizations organizing annual survey campaigns for the measurement of front variations, and publishing a journal called Geografia Fisica e Dinamica Quaternaria (Physical Geography and Quaternary Dynamics). It also organizes courses aimed at preparing glaciological operators, who will then participate in the annual measuring campaign, and offering a specific preparation to whoever wants to approach glacier research.

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