Kelsey Nyland

  • Ph.D.

  • Email: knyland@msu.edu
  • Geography Building
    673 Auditorium Rd, Room 116
    East Lansing, MI 48824
  • Areas of interest: Permafrost, Arctic Climate Change, Periglacial and Quaternary Geomorphology
Ph.D.

Research Synopsis:

I identify as an Arctic Geographer with a wide range of research interests with the common thread being all things frozen or once frozen.  I have participated in research projects and publications focusing on mapping and remote sensing related to permafrost (perennially frozen ground), the impacts of climate change on permafrost, indigenous, and industrialized Arctic communities, and Arctic urban sustainability.  My dissertation focuses on the evolution of current and past periglacial (cold and unglaciated) landscapes, particularly those found in central and western Alaska, though I remain involved with permafrost monitoring on the Alaskan North Slope, and expeditions to central Siberia and the Polar Ural Mountains.

For my doctoral thesis I am studying a landscape whose formation remains an enigma in periglacial geomorphology.  Cryoplanation terraces are large step-like landforms incised in mountainside bedrock (see the pictures below from central Alaska).  The hypothesis that I am examining is the nivation formation hypothesis, or that these impressive rock benches are formed from intensified erosion caused by late-lying snowbanks.  The concept of nivation was originally introduced in 1900 by the famous geomorphologist Franҫois Matthes.  Despite nivation and cryoplanation terraces being actively discussed as theoretically linked in academic literature for more than a century, nivation has, until now, not been explicitly examined in the field on cryoplanation terraces.  If nivation, dependent on the presence of late-lying snowbanks, were to be empirically linked to the development of these large terraces it would constitute a fundamental paradigm shift in periglacial geomorphology with great potential for paleoenvironmental reconstruction applications.

Cryoplanation terraces in central Alaska on Eagle Summit. The photo shows a series of these terraces ascending a ridge thought to have formed from the erosive action of late-lying snowbanks and therefore climatically controlled.

Cryoplanation terraces in central Alaska on Eagle Summit. The photo shows a series of these terraces ascending a ridge thought to have formed from the erosive action of late-lying snowbanks and therefore climatically controlled.

Kelsey Nyland standing at the base of a terrace scarp.

Kelsey Nyland standing at the base of a terrace scarp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For links to my publications and curriculum vitae please visit my personal website …

http://kelseynyland.wixsite.com/kelseynyland