Mr. Robert Guillette
Mathematics, Class 2015
Dr. Irina Seceleanu
Bridgewater State University
Robert Guillette is also an Honors student who received an ATP summer grant in 2013 to work with Dr. Irina Seceleanu on his research study titled “Modeling the Retreat of Glaciers in a Changing Climate.” With Dr. Seceleanu’s guidance, he is conducting sophisticated mathematical research with a profound real-world application: predicting the rate of glacial retreat due to global climate change. The mathematical model he created with Dr. Seceleanu identifies potential outcomes for glaciers by simulating how they could melt under various scenarios of temperature and precipitation variations over the next century. He tested the model on the Folgefonna glacier in Norway using data from the past 50 years from weather stations in the vicinity of the glacier. Results show that temperature, precipitation, local climatic phenomena, wind speed, and isolation explain much of the variation in the ice mass of the glacier. As Robert said in his ATP Summer Grant proposal, “If we wish to learn what the future holds for these ice masses, researching the significant interplay between climate change and glaciers is of critical importance."
It is worth noting that the 2013 summer ATP grant has made his achievement possible.
An 2013 ATP Research Project and A Poster Session Selected to 2014 Posters on the Hill in Washington, DC.
This program is the most competitive undergraduate-research venue in the country. It is held in the Rayburn Building of the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill. Every year only outstanding undergraduate research projects will be selected for presentation from across the country and across all academic disciplines. Congressional Representatives, U.S. Senators, their staff members, and the staffs of numerous governmental agencies (including the NSF) are invited to hear about research conducted by the “best and brightest” undergraduate students in the U.S. It is a great achievement for Bridgewater State University to have 2 of the 60 spots this year go to our students, from among over 600 reviewed proposals. Mr. Robert Guillette was one of the two accepted presenters.
Glaciers across the globe have been increasingly losing mass over the last century. The melting of glaciers offers tangible evidence of broader environmental changes as they respond directly to long-term trends in temperature, precipitation and solar radiation. Since glacier retreat provides a barometer of climate change, it is important to better understand the effects of climatic factors on glaciers. In this project we created a mathematical model of glacier retreat, which we applied to the Folgefonna glacier in Norway. Using multiple linear regression we studied the effects of temperature, precipitation, insolation, wind speed and the North Atlantic Oscillation on the area of the glacier, and found that within our model these factors explained 82.7% of the total variation of the Folgefonna glacier area. Moreover, based on different projections of global temperature over the next century, we simulated the evolution of the total area of this glacier under these scenarios and obtained prediction intervals for when the glacier will completely disappear. Our study showed that future climate change will lead to a dramatic retreat and, potentially, to a complete loss of the Folgefonna glacier over the course of the next century. Our model can be applied to other glaciers across the world and is of interest to governments because of the socio-economic impact of glacier retreat. Given that one-sixth of the world’s population depends on glacier and snow melt for its water supply, a mathematical model predicting the future of glaciers can help governments adapt to the realities of a changing climate.