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Robin E. Bell

Palisades Geophysical Institute/Lamont Research Professor in the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Lecturer in Earth and Sciences
School: 
School of the Arts
Department: 
Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Office: 
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades NY 10964
Email: 
robinb@ldeo.columbia.edu
Phone: 
845-365-8827
Fax: 
845-365-8179
Biography

For twenty years, Robin Elizabeth Bell has worked alongside a team of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory geophysics senior scientists and engineers to coordinate nine major aero-geophysical expeditions to Antarctica and Greenland in order to study ice sheet collapse. On these adventures, Bell’s discoveries have included a volcano beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet, several large lakes locked beneath two miles of ice, and most recently evidence that the ice sheet can thicken from below. Bell was a leading proponent of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year, and has chaired the National Academy of Sciences Polar Research Board. Her work examines the implications of climate change on the poles and involves adapting scientific instruments to produce imaginative new insights into the Polar Regions.

When asked about her attraction to the polar regions, Bell responded, "One of the reasons I was driven to the poles is that it’s a place where I thought studying the Earth had ramifications for society; we're all driven to understand how our planet works, and this felt like societally relevant research. The poles are also one of the final frontiers on Earth."

Bell was instrumental in launching a major multinational effort to study the polar regions of our planet for International Polar Year in 2007 and 2009, during which some 60,000 scientists from over 63 different nations worked together to study rapidly changing elements of our planet. Bell led a major expedition to Antarctica to explore the Gamburtsev, a mountain range larger than the Alps, and the last unfamiliar mountain range on Earth completely covered with ice.

"The poles are frequently off the map," Bell explained, "but they are also the regions that are changing the most rapidly. It's incumbent on us, the polar science community, to make sure they don't fall off the edge - ­that we really strive to understand the processes that are going on in the poles so we can help society understand how the planet changes."

In addition to her polar work, Bell conducts research closer to her New York home. Beginning in 1998, she led the Hudson River Estuary Project team, mapping over 160 miles of the Hudson River, from Staten Island to Albany, in order to define crucial habitats and contaminated deposits. Bell and her team of scientists from Queens College and the State University of New York at Stony Brook discovered dozens of sunken ships and Revolutionary War artifacts. Bell's team was the first to map the Hudson in over 50 years. Together, they uncovered a dynamic riverbed, with large dunes of sand and gravel, banks of oysters, and important archaeological antiquities. Under Bell's leadership, the research team found that sediment movement affected the movement of pollutants such as Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs). The success of their research led the grant to be renewed and Bell’s team mapped the river from the Battery district to Troy, New York, including the first mapping of landslides triggered by the torrential rains of Hurricane Floyd that left scars far into the river.

Robin Bell received her undergraduate degree in Geology from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1980 and her Ph.D. in Geophysics from Columbia University in 1989. She received an honorary degree from Middlebury College in 2006. She has been part of the research staff at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory since 1989 and is a member of the Earth Institute faculty. As the Palisades Geophysical Institute Lamont Research Professor, Bell directs research programs in Antarctica and Greenland, and focuses on developing new technologies to monitor our rapidly changing planet. Bell has published over 50 peer reviewed articles and more than 30 other publications, and continues to pursue new directions in her field to meet the challenges presented by climate change in the polar regions.

Research & Other Works
Article
Widespread movement of meltwater onto and across Antarctic ice shelves
Article
Rerouting of subglacial water flow between neighboring glaciers in West Greenland
Article
Bathymetric control of tidewater glacier mass loss in northwest Greenland
Article
Traveling slippery patches produce thickness-scale folds in ice sheets
Article
Freezing of ridges and water networks preserves the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains for millions of years
Article
Identification and control of subglacial water networks under Dome A, Antarctica
Article
Early East Antarctic Ice Sheet growth recorded in the landscape of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains
Article
Estuarine Processes and Their Stratigraphic Record: Paleosalinity and Sedimentation Changes in the Hudson Estuary (North America)
Article
Spatial Variations in a Condensed Interval between Estuarine and Open-Marine Settings: Holocene Hudson River Estuary and Adjacent Continental Shelf
Article
Air and shipborne magnetic surveys of the Antarctic into the 21st century
Article
A long-term perspective on a modern drought in the American Southeast
Article
Early Mesozoic rift basins of eastern North America and their gravity anomalies: The role of detachments during extension
Article
An Experiment in Institutional Transformation: The NSF ADVANCE Program for Women at the Earth Institute at Columbia University
Article
Evolutionary Processes a Focus of Decade-Long Ecosystem Study of Antarctic's Lake Vostok
Article
Airborne gravimetry from a small twin engine aircraft over the Long Island Sound
Article
Evaluation of the BGM-3 sea gravity meter system onboard R/V Conrad
Article
The rise and fall of early oil field technology: The torsion balance gradiometer
Article
Gravity gradiometry resurfaces
Article
Women, Work, and the Academy
Article
Education and Outreach for the International Polar Year
Article
Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World
Article
Influx of meltwater to subglacial Lake Concordia, East Antarctica
Article
Structure of the Dead Sea Pull-Apart Basin From Gravity Analyses
Article
Estimating the depth and shape of subglacial Lake Vostok's water cavity from aerogravity data
Article
Subglacial sediments: A regional geological template for ice flow in West Antarctica
Article
Comparison of AIRGrav and GT-1A airborne gravimeters for research applications
Article
Exploring Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environments
Article
Integrative Acoustic Mapping Reveals Hudson River Sediment Processes and Habitats
Article
Anomalous accumulation rates in the Vostok ice-core resulting from ice flow over Lake Vostok
Article
Airborne gravimetry: An investigation of filtering
Article
Gravity field over the Sea of Galilee: Evidence for a composite basin along a transform fault
Article
Airborne gravity and precise positioning for geologic applications
Article
Tectonically controlled subglacial lakes on the flanks of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, East Antarctica
Article
Righting the Balance: Gender Diversity in the Geosciences
Article
Kinematic Positioning with DGPS: Expanding Frontiers in Aerogeophysics
Communicating Climate Change Science
Report
Integrated Reconnaissance of the Physical and Biogeochemical Characteristics of Jamaica Bay
Report
The scope of science for the International Polar Year, 2007-2008
Report
A Framework for the International Polar Year, 2007-2008
Report
Bridging the Poles: Education Linked with Research: A Report on the Workshop: 23-25 June 2004, Washington, D.C.
Report
Final Report: Lake Vostok: A Curiosity or a Focus for Interdisciplinary Study?
 
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