Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Christopher A Shuman


Christopher A Shuman's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.5706
Org Code: 615
Mail Code 615
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Christopher A. Shuman is a Research Scientist within the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). He has been employed by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's (UMBC's) Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) since 2011, now Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research (GESTAR) II. Before joining JCET, he was with UMBC's Goddard Earth Sciences & Technology Center (GEST) for four years. In 2014, he became affiliated with UMBC's Geography and Environmental Systems Department as an Research Associate Professor.

From 2001-2007, Dr. Shuman was a Physical Scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Branch (now Laboratory) at GSFC, and the Deputy Project Scientist for the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) Mission from 2001 to 2005, as well as an Adjunct Research Faculty at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) at University of Maryland, College Park. From 1999-2001, Dr. Shuman was an Assistant Research Scientist at ESSIC. From 1996-1998, he was a Visiting Research Fellow with the Universities Space Research Association at GSFC’s Oceans and Ice Branch working with Dr. Robert A. Bindschadler. From 1994-1996, he was a National Research Council, Resident Research Associate at GSFC’s Oceans and Ice Branch, Greenbelt, MD working with Dr. Robert A. Bindschadler. From 1992-1994, he was a Research Associate at the Earth System Science Center and Department of Geosciences of The Pennsylvania State University, working with Dr. Richard B. Alley. Dr. Shuman received his Ph.D. in Geosciences in 1992 and his M.S. in Geology in 1987 from The Pennsylvania State University, and his B.S. in Geology in 1982 from Moravian College.

Research Interests

Details follow

Earth Science: Cryosphere / Earth's Ice Cover

Currently, Dr. Shuman is primarily working on in situ, satellite, and modeled temperature data sets from Greenland in collaboration with other researchers at NASA GSFC. Previously, he has authored or co-authored research papers on ice elevation changes and glacier mass losses using altimetry in combination with other remote sensing in the Antarctica Peninsula, on the accuracy of the first ICESat mission's data over Antarctica's large subglacial lakes. He has also worked on composite temperature records derived from automatic weather stations (AWS), passive microwave data from SMMR and SSM/I and IR data from AVHRR satellite sensors. In addition, Dr. Shuman has successfully matched those records through stratigraphic correlation with stable isotope temperature proxy profiles in shallow snow layers. He has worked extensively in Greenland (7 deployments) and Antarctica (6 field deployments plus more recent Operation Ice Bridge flights from Punta Arenas, Chile). He began his cryospheric career helping to date the 3054 m long Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2's (GISP2) deep ice core in 1992. He was the longest serving member of the Polar DAAC Advisory Group (PoDAG) and also served on the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) advisory board and is also on the Executive Committee of the Cryospheric Focus Group of AGU.


Associate Research Professor

GESTARII Cooperative agreement and affiliated with the Geography and Environmental Systems Department, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

June 2014 - Present


Associate Research Scientist

Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (was Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center), University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Planetary Geodynamics Branch and Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

2007 - June 2014


Physical Scientist

Cryospheric Sciences Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

2001 - 2007

Deputy Project Scientist for the ICESat Mission

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

2001 - 2005

Adjunct Research Faculty, ESSIC

University of Maryland - College Park, MD

2001 - 2007

Assistant Research Scientist

Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, Dr. Antonio J. Busalacchi, Director - College Park, MD

1999 - 2001

Visiting Research Fellow, Universities Space Research Assoc.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Oceans and Ice Branch, with Dr. Robert A. Bindschadler - Greenbelt, MD

1996 - 1999

National Research Council, Resident Research Associate

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Oceans and Ice Branch working with Dr. Robert A. Bindschadler - Greenbelt, MD

1994 - 1996

Research Associate

Earth System Science Center and Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University working with Dr. Richard B. Alley - University Park, PA

1992 - 1994


Ph.D. Geosciences 1992, The Pennsylvania State University, Advisor: Dr. R.R. Parizek.
M.S. Geology 1987, The Pennsylvania State University, Advisor: Dr. R.R. Parizek.
B.S. Geology 1982, Moravian College, Advisor: Dr. J.J. Gerencher, Jr.

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union

Life member

1988 - Present

Selected Publications


2024. "Monitoring Polar Ice Change in the Twilight Zone." Eos 105 [10.1029/2024eo240048] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Mapping Firn Saturation over Greenland using NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive Satellite." IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing 1-1 [10.1109/jstars.2022.3154968] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "An empirical algorithm to map perennial firn aquifers and ice slabs within the Greenland Ice Sheet using satellite L-band microwave radiometry." The Cryosphere 16 (1): 103-125 [10.5194/tc-16-103-2022] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Evaluation of Surface Melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet Using SMAP L-Band Microwave Radiometry." IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing 14 11439-11449 [10.1109/jstars.2021.3124229] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "The impacts of warming on rapidly retreating high-altitude, low-latitude glaciers and ice core-derived climate records." Global and Planetary Change 203 103538 [10.1016/j.gloplacha.2021.103538] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "The 32-year record-high surface melt in 2019/2020 on the northern George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula." The Cryosphere 15 (2): 909-925 [10.5194/tc-15-909-2021] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Damage accelerates ice shelf instability and mass loss in Amundsen Sea Embayment." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (40): 24735-24741 [10.1073/pnas.1912890117] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Brief communication: Mapping Greenland's perennial firn aquifers using enhanced-resolution L-band brightness temperature image time series." The Cryosphere 14 (9): 2809-2817 [10.5194/tc-14-2809-2020] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Anomalous circulation in July 2019 resulting in mass loss on the Greenland ice sheet." Geophysical Research Letters 47 (17): [10.1029/2020GL087263] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Recent drift and evolution of large icebergs in the Southern Ocean [in "State of the Climate in 2018"]." Bulletin of American Meteorological Society 100 (9): S182 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Sustaining the Science Impact of Summit Station, Greenland - Koenig, L. and B. Vaughn, Lead Authors, with 27 supporting authors." A white paper produced from the Summit Station Science Workshop, National Science Foundation 116 [Full Text] [Report]

2016. "Ice loss processes in the Seal Nunataks ice shelf region from satellite altimetry and imagery." Annals of Glaciology 57 (73): 94-104 [10.1017/aog.2016.29] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Comment on ‘Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses’ by H. J. Zwally and others." Journal of Glaciology FirstView 1--5 [10.1017/jog.2016.59] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Multi-modal albedo distributions in the ablation area of the southwestern Greenland Ice Sheet." The Cryosphere 9 (3): 905-923 [10.5194/tc-9-905-2015] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Comparison of Near-Surface Air Temperatures and MODIS Ice-Surface Temperatures at Summit, Greenland (2008–13)." J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol. 53 (9): 2171–2180 [10.1175/JAMC-D-14-0023.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Atmospheric and oceanic climate forcing of the exceptional Greenland ice sheet surface melt in summer 2012." Int. J. Climatol. 34 (4): 1022 - 1037 [10.1002/joc.3743] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Detailed ice loss pattern in the northern Antarctic Peninsula: widespread decline driven by ice front retreats." The Cryosphere 8 2135-2145 [10.5194/tc-8-2135-2014] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Greenland ice sheet melt from MODIS and associated atmospheric variability." Geophys. Res. Lett. 41 (5): 1600-1607 [10.1002/2013GL059185] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Variability in the surface temperature and melt extent of the Greenland ice sheet from MODIS." Geophys. Res. Lett 40 (10): 2114-2120 [10.1002/grl.50240] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Understanding Greenland ice sheet hydrology using an integrated multi-scale approach." Environ. Res. Lett. 8 (1): 015017 [10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015017] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Mass loss of Larsen B tributary glaciers (Antarctic Peninsula) unabated since 2002." Geophys. Res. Lett. 39 (13): L13501 [10.1029/2012GL051755] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "A Satellite-Derived Climate-Quality Data Record of the Clear-Sky Surface Temperature of the Greenland Ice Sheet." Journal of Climate 25 (14): 4785-4798 [10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00365.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "The extreme melt across the Greenland ice sheet in 2012." Geophys Res Lett 39 (20): L20502 [10.1029/2012GL053611] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "2001-2009 elevation and mass losses in the Larsen A and B embayments, Antarctic Peninsula." Journal of Glaciology 57 (204): 737-754 [10.3189/002214311797409811] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "The triggering of sub-glacial lake drainage during the rapid glacier drawdown: Crane Glacier Antarctic Peninsula." Annals of Glaciology 52 (59): 74-82 [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Deep air convection in the firn at a zero-accumulation site, central Antarctica." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 293 (3-4): 359-367 [10.1016/j.epsl.2010.03.003] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Increased Runoff from Melt from the Greenland Ice Sheet: A Response to Global Warming." Journal of Climate 21 (2): 331-341 [10.1175/2007JCLI1964.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Comparison of satellite-derived and in-situ observations of ice and snow surface temperatures over Greenland." Remote Sensing of Environment 112 (10): 3739-3749 [10.1016/j.rse.2008.05.007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "A link between microwave extinction length, firn thermal diffusivity, and accumulation rate in West Antarctica." J. Geophys. Res. 112 (F3): F03018 [10.1029/2006JF000716] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "Large subglacial lakes in East Antarctica at the onset of fast-flowing ice streams." Nature 445 (7130): 904-907 [10.1038/nature05554] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "Impacts of an accumulation hiatus on the physical properties of firn at a low-accumulation polar site." J. Geophys. Res. 112 (F2): F02030 [10.1029/2005JF000429] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "ICESat Antarctic elevation data: Preliminary precision and accuracy assessment." Geophysical Research Letters 33 (7): L07501 [10.1029/2005GL025227] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "Tectonically controlled subglacial lakes on the flanks of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, East Antarctica." Geophysical Research Letters 33 (2): L02504 [10.1029/2005GL025207] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Determination of Mercury Content in a Shallow Firn Core from Greenland by Isotope Dilution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry." Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 163 (1-4): 19-32 [10.1007/s11270-005-7607-y] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Extreme firn metamorphism: Impact of decades of vapor transport on near surface firn at a low-accumulation glazed site on the E Antarctic Plateau." Annals of Glaciology 39 73-78 [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "High-resolution ice cores from US ITASE (West Antarctica): development and validation of chronologies and determination of precision and accuracy." Annals of Glaciology 41 (1): 77-84 [10.3189/172756405781813311] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Detecting and measuring new snow accumulation on ice sheets by satellite remote sensing." Remote Sensing of Environment 98 (4): 388-402 [10.1016/j.rse.2005.07.014] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Overview of the ICESat Mission." Geophys Res Lett 32 (L21S01): 4 pp [Journal Article/Letter]

2004. "Glacier acceleration and thinning after ice shelf collapse in the Larsen B embayment, Antarctica." Geophys Res Lett 31 40182 [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Long melt seasons on ice shelves of the Antarctic Peninsula: an analysis using satellite-based microwave emission measurements." Annals of Glaciology 34 127-133 [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Temperature variability at Siple Dome West Antarctica derived from SSM/I and SSMR brightness temperatures ECMWF reanalyses and AWS records." Annals of Glaciology 34 106-112 [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "In situ and satellite surface temperature records in Antarctica." Ann Glaciol 34 113-120 [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Decadal-Length Composite Inland West Antarctic Temperature Records." Journal of Climate 14 (9): 1977-1988 [10.1175/1520-0442(2001)014<1977:DLCIWA>2.0.CO;2] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Multiyear accumulation and temperature history near the North Greenland Ice Core Project site, north central Greenland." J. Geophys. Res. 106 (D24): 33,853-33,866 [10.1029/2001JD900197] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Mapping Greenland accumulation rates using observations of thermal emission at 4.5-cm wavelength." J. Geophys. Res. 106 (D24): 33,919-33,934 [10.1029/2001JD900235] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "A dozen years of temperature observations at the Summit: Central Greenland automatic weather stations 1987-1999." Journal of Applied Meteorology 40 (4): 741-752 [10.1175/1520-0450(2001)040<0741:ADYOTO>2.0.CO;2] [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "Snow megadune fields on the East Antarctic Plateau: Extreme atmosphere-ice interaction." Geophysical Research Letters 27 (22): 3719-3722 [10.1029/1999GL011248] [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Seasonal variations of glaciochemical, isotopic and stratigraphic properties in Siple Dome (Antarctica) surface snow." Annals of Glaciology 29 (1): 38-44 [10.3189/172756499781821193] [Journal Article/Letter]


2018. "Passive Microwave Continuity Mission with SSMIS F-20." White Paper 5 [Report]

2010. "The Slope Imaging Multi-polarization Photon-counting Lidar: Development and performance results." Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2010 IEEE International 653-656 [10.1109/IGARSS.2010.5650862] [Proceedings]


Slope Imaging Multi-polarization Photon-counting Lidar (SIMPL) Development Team Award, 2009, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Group Award, Peer Award, Special Act Awards, 2002, 2004, 2005 for ICESat Mission, Education and Outreach, and Field Work, Science Data Processing, and Mission Development, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Special Experience

Field work: Greenland - 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2006 ‘summer’ seasons (varying durations and accommodations).


Field work: Antarctica - 1996, 1997, 2000 (2x), and 2002 (2x) ‘summer’ seasons (varying durations and accommodations), plus Operation Ice Bridge flights 2009 to 2011 on NASA's DC-8 aircraft from Punta Arenas, Chile to locations over East and West Antarctica and the Peninsula.


Selected Public Outreach

Landsat Illustrates Five Decades of Change to Greenland Glaciers

September 2019 - Present

Ice fronts have retreated, rocky peaks are more exposed, fewer icebergs drift to the ocean: the branching network of glaciers that empty into Greenland’s Sermilik Fjord has changed significantly in the last half century. Comparing Landsat images from 1972 and 2019, those changes and more come into view.

Landsat View of a Disappearing Glacier in Iceland

September 2019 - Present

Hyperwall time series showing the loss of Okjökull (Ok Glacier), Iceland

2016 Lamplugh Glacier Landslide in Glacier Bay National Park

August 2019 - Present

Hyperwall time series of Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 images showing the collapse of a mountainside onto Lamplugh Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Peru's Shrinking Tropical Ice Caps

2018 - Present

Selected Landsat images with no cloud cover and little to no snow allows visualization of the ice area losses and the exposure of bare ice at the lowest elevations of Earth's largest remaining tropical ice caps, Quelccaya and Coropuna, in Peru between 1975 and 2017

The first Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)

June 2018 - Present

The first Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission, part of NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS), was launched on January 12, 2003 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in a near-polar orbit

Ice Losses in Tropical Asia

May 2018 - Present

Nine Landsat images from 1980 to 2018 show the progressive loss of ice from the highest part of the Surdiman Range, part of the Maoke ‘Snow’ Mountains in the Indonesian Province of Papua on the island of New Guinea

Calving of A-68 from the Larsen C Ice Shelf, Antarctica 2016-2017

2017 - Present

These images show composite images from Landsat 8’s Operational Land Imager (OLI) over Antarctica’s 4th largest ice shelf, the ~40,000 km2 (15,400 mi2) Larsen C Ice Shelf as the rift that released Iceberg A-68 evolved until July 2017

Pine Island Glacier Retreat, Antarctica

2017 - Present

This pair of hyperwall visualizations shows Sentinel-1 imagery and a longer time series of Landsat imagery over Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica

Landsat 'Sees in the Dark' the Evolution of Antarctica’s Delaware-Sized Iceberg

September 2017 - Present

While Antarctica was shrouded in darkness during the Southern Hemisphere winter, the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) on Landsat 8 captured a new view of the 2,240-square-mile iceberg that calved from the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf on July 11, 2017

Ice Fronts on the Larsen B Ice Shelf, 2001-2009

December 2010 - Present

This animation shows the location of the edges of ice shelves and glaciers in and around the Larsen B Embayment of Antarctica, over successive Springs between 2001 and 2009

NASA DLN Presents Earth Day with Bella Gaia

May 2010 - Present

Short recap video of the 2010 Earth Day DLN webcast with Kenji Williams performing "Bella Gaia" and Dr. Christopher Shuman discussing his work in Antarctica and the changes our polar regions have been undergoing

ICESat Lithograph

October 2004 - Present

A view of Antarctica showing ice sheet elevation and cloud data from ICESat