UNCW physics and physical oceanography assistant professor Till Wagner will lead a multi-institutional research team that will explore the role of icebergs in the climate system. The project was awarded grants totaling more than $578,000 through the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs.

“Icebergs can be the size of Delaware and can really have an impact on the climate,” Wagner said. “We want to represent everything that is important in global climate models.”

The project is a collaboration by UNCW, Princeton University and the University of California San Diego, where Wagner did his postdoctoral work and where he drafted the original grant proposal. UNCW’s grant totals $289,502, while Princeton will receive $288,668. UCSD’s role is primarily in a consulting capacity, Wagner said. The project will involve at least one postdoctoral scholar and an Honors College student at UNCW.

Icebergs form when melting, land-based ice sheets or glaciers slide down the coastline into the ocean and massive chunks break off. Many are so large they can actually carry their own “microclimate” with them, said Wagner, who joined the UNCW faculty this year. But most global climate models do not take icebergs into account, even though they can have a significant effect, Wagner said.

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Originally published June 5, 2018. Written by Tricia Vance.