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J. E. Box Research

Observations and Modeling in Cryospheric Science

Observations are vital to assess model skill. Cryospheric models are vital to assess climate sensitivity and to represent areas not benefiting from in-situ observations. Fusion of observations and models yields 'a whole that is of greater value than the individual parts'. Although this fusion is usually work2, the results yield measureable errors, an understanding of uncertainties, and sometimes the means to calibrate models. My work focuses on cryoshperic problems in Greenland, with global sea level and ocean salinity and global climate impacts.

Click on Topics for details:
  1. Polar Climatology
  2. Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Balance
  3. Polar Meteorology
  4. Ice Sheet Albedo The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
  5. Supraglacial Melt Lakes 
  6. Snow Drift Time Lapse Photography 

Glacier Dynamics from Repeat Photography

Overview: Repeat photography of glaciers allows measurement of ice motion at spatial and temporal scales not possible from satellite nor airborne remote sensing. This project is to examine outlet glacier sensitivity to surface melting.

Extreme Ice Survey automatic camera at Umiamiko Isbrae, West Greenland

Polar Climatology

Overview: Use of observational records to determine the climate variability patterns over the recent past ~140 years.

  • Box J.E. and A.E. Cohen, 2006: Upper-air temperatures around Greenland: 1964–2005, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L12706, doi:10.1029/2006GL025723 PDF
  • Box, J.E. (2002): Survey of Greenland instrumental temperature records: 1873–2001, International Journal of Climatology, 22, 1829– 1847. PDF
  • Hanna, E., T. Jonssen, and J.E. Box, 2004: Analysis of Long Term Icelandic Observational Records International Journal of Climatology, 24: 1193–1210. PDF
  • Shuman, C. A., K. Steffen, J. E. Box, and C. R. Stearns, A dozen years of temperature observations at the summit: central Greenland automatic weather stations 1987-1999, Journal of Applied Meteorology, 40(4), 741-752, 2001.

Stevenson Screen measurement housing by Norwegian glacier, J. Box

Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Balance

Overview: I have participated in climate research expediations to the Greenland ice sheet each year 1994-2005. This work is part of NASA's PARCA initiative to understand short- and long-term ice sheet mass balance and its response to climate variability. My graduate work included installing and maintaining a network of automatic weather stations on the ice sheet. My dissertation investigated the surface water vapor mass exchange by blowing snow and surface evaporation/sublimation. In my post graduate phase, I combine observations and models to get spatial and temporal closure on total ice sheet surface mass balance components, i.e. precipitation, surface and blowing snow sublimation, evaporation/condensation, meltwater runoff, and internal accumulation or refrozen meltwater. I've published grids of surface mass balance components from Box et al. (2004).

  • Box, J.E. 2006: Greenland climate in 2005, in “State of the Climate 2005”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, June 2006
  • Box, J.E., D.H. Bromwich, B.A. Veenhuis, L-S Bai, J.C. Stroeve, J.C. Rogers, K. Steffen, T. Haran, S-H Wang, Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance variability (1988-2004) from calibrated Polar MM5 output, Journal of Climate, Vol. 19, No. 12, pp. 2783–2800. PDF
  • Box, J.E., D. H. Bromwich, L-S Bai, 2004: Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance for 1991-2000: application of Polar MM5 mesoscale model and in-situ data, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 109, No. D16, D16105, 10.1029/2003JD004451. PDF 
  • Box, J. E. 2005: Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance variability: 1991-2003, Annals of Glaciology, International Symposium on Arctic Glaciology, Aug 28, 2004. PDF
  • Box, J.E., L. Yang, J. Rogers, D. Bromwich, L.-S. Bai, K. Steffen, J. Stroeve, S.-H. Wang, 2005: Extreme precipitation events over Greenland: consequences to ice sheet mass balance, American Meteorological Society, 8th International Conference on Polar Meteolorology and Oceanography, 9-13 January 2005, San Diego, CA, paper 5.2 PDF
  • Box, J.E. 2005: Recent Greenland climate variability and consequences to ice sheet mass balance, in “State of the Climate 2004”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 87, June 2005, PDF

Map of spatial distribution of
Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance
from Box et al. 2004

Polar Meteorology

The foundation of my work is in polar micro-meteorology. My application is in glacier mass balance studies. I serve on the American Meteorological Society Committee on Polar Meteorology and Oceanography.
I work with Byrd Polar Research Center's Polar Meterology Group. An example of this collaboration is with a project entitled" The Greenland Weather Prediction IniTiativE Using a Regional AtmospheriC Model (PITERAC), which is an effort to provide and develop real-time weather forecasts to field parties on the Greenland ice sheet.


  • Box, J. E., P. S. Anderson, M. R. van den Broeke, (2004), Automatic Weather Stations on Glaciers: Lessons, extended abstracts, Workshop on the use of Automatic Weather Stations on Glaciers, 28 - 31 March, Pontresina, Switzerland, 22 pp.  PDF
  • Box, J. E., and K. Steffen (2001), Sublimation estimates for the Greenland ice sheet using automated weather station observations, Journal of Geophysical Research, 106(D24), 33,965– 33,982. PDF
  • Bromwich D., J. Cassano, T. Klein, G. Heinemann, K. Hines, K. Steffen, and J. E. Box, Mesoscale modeling of katabatic winds over Greenland with the Polar MM5, Monthly Weather Review, 129(9), 2290-2309, 2001.
  • Cassano, J., J. E. Box, D. Bromwich, L. Li, and K. Steffen, Verification of polar MM5 simulations of Greenland's atmospheric circulation, Journal of Geophysical Research,106(D24), 33867-33890, 2001.
  • Steffen, K. and J. E. Box, Surface climatology of the Greenland ice sheet: Greenland Climate Network 1995-1999, Journal of Geophysical Research, 106(D24), 33951-33964, 2001.
  • Steffen, K., J. E. Box, and W. Abdalati, Greenland Climate Network: GC-Net, in US Army Cold Regions Reattach and Engineering Labratory (CRREL) tribute to Mark Meier, CRREL Special Report 96-27, pp. 98-103. 1996.
Related Links

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)

Overview:   In December 1999, the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor was launched on the Terra AM platform, followed in May 2002 by the launch of a nearly identical MODIS sensor on the Aqua PM platform. MODIS has been used to produce imagery of surface reflectance across the visible and near infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, otherwise known as albedo. Surface albedo dictates the amount of absorbed solar energy. I'm using albedo grids for ice sheet melt modeling and monitoring.

Related Publications:

  • Stroeve, J.C., J.E. Box, Haran, T., 2006: Evaluation of the MODIS (MOD10A1) daily snow albedo product over the Greenland ice sheet, Remote Sensing of Environment, 105(2), 155-171
  • Liang S., J. Stroeve, J.E. Box, 2005: Mapping daily snow/ice shortwave broadband albedo from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS): The improved direct retrieval algorithm and validation with Greenland in situ measurement, J. Geophys. Res., 110, D10109, doi:10.1029/2004JD005493.
  • Stroeve, J, J.E. Box, A. Nolin, S. Liang, C. Schaaf, F. Gao, 2005: Accuracy assessment of the MODIS 16-day albedo product for snow: comparisons with Greenland in situ measurements, Remote Sensing of the Environment, 94(1), 46-60.
  • Stroeve, J., J.E. Box, J. Maslanik, J. Key, C. Fowler, 2001: Intercomparison between in situ and AVHRR Polar Pathfinder-derived surface albedo over Greenland, Remote Sensing of the Environment, 75(3), 360-374.
Related Links

NASA's Terra satellite, host of MODIS.
MODIS is also on the Aqua satellite.

MODIS image swath featuring Greenland.
Melt areas are visible as light blue areas around
the ice sheet periphery.

 Melt Lakes

Overview: Melt lakes are interesting for ice sheet hydrology.

Related Publications:
  • Box, J.E. and K. Ski, Remote sounding of Greenland supraglacial melt lakes: implications to sub-glacial hydraulics, Journal of Glaciology, 181, 257 – 265.

Greenland melt lakes visible in MODIS imagery.

 Snow drift time lapse photography

Overview: Blowing snow can be important for ice sheet surface mass balance.


Surface ripples captured with 1 minute
digital time lapse, 1996

Other Topics

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last edited: 20-November-2006, webmaster