David Porter is an Associate Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the Climate School at Columbia University. He studies how the atmosphere and ocean drive changes in the ice sheets, and how the resulting changing sea level affects coastal communities. His research involves climate processes at high-latitudes, and is particularly interested in the interactions between different Earth System components. His expertise is at this intersection of traditional disciplines. At the ice-ocean interface, he studies how ice is melting in warming ocean waters, likely the most pressing question for the future of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Are warming ocean waters responsible for the increase in mass loss of marine-terminating glaciers worldwide? How stable are Antarctic ice shelves, especially the Ross Ice Shelf which holds back several meters of sea level rise? At the atmosphere-ice interface, he asks “what drives the newly-observed liquid water on the surface of the frigid Southern Continent?” And at the solid earth-ice interface, under the massive and ancient ice sheets themselves, he’s involved in projects to link geological controls on fast moving glaciers and ice streams.
Dave started his science career in meteorology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, fascinated both by the power of hurricanes Andrew and Allison but also playing in snow drifts dropped by potent nor’easters. Since that time, he has diversified his interests, advancing polar meteorology by modeling atmospheric changes to Arctic sea ice loss for his doctorate from University of Colorado at Boulder. Further broadening for his postdoctoral project at LDEO of Columbia University, he used new gravity-derived bathymetry from NASA Operation IceBridge to link ocean heat to glacier mass loss. Since then he has sailed aboard the US ice breaker Nathanial B. Palmer to the remote East Antarctic coast to map the seafloor and collect new water samples, and currently working with coastal communities in Greenland to link changes in the Greenland ice sheet to impacts on the built environment and social systems.