Penn State Ice and Climate is an interdisciplinary group of researchers from across the university dedicated to a better understanding of the cryosphere. We are a part of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Institute, with members from the Departments of Geosciences, Electrical Engineering, Meteorology, and others.

The cryosphere is defined as the part of the Earth where water exists as ice. The PSICE group is particularly interested in glaciers and ice sheets. The two largest extant ice sheets on Earth are the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets, shown here in blue, and to scale.

Ice sheets are part of the global hydrologic cycle, in which water evaporates from the oceans, falls as snow on the ice sheets, is compressed over time to form ice, and eventually flows to the ocean and melts.

The balance between snowfall on the ice sheets and water returned to the ocean each year is what controls sea level. The flow of ice is key to this process.

PSICE folks are conducting field work, modeling, and laboratory research in many parts of Antarctica and Greenland to understand ice flow in order to better project sea level in the coming decades. The highlighted boxes show some of those areas. See the Projects page for more information. 1

Our mission is the educate the next generation of cryosphere scientists and inform the public and other stakeholders on climate issues. Our research mission is to develop the tools and theoretical framework to better project how climate change will affect ice sheets.


  1. The highlighted boxes are shown with ice flow speed in color. The purple colors show areas where the flow of the ice is less than 3 m/yr. The yellow colors show regions where the flow speed is 60 m/yr, and the red colors are for areas with speeds of 300 m/yr. The brown colors are for areas with speeds greater than 1000 m/yr. [return]