WWU professor's quest to document melting in Earth's frozen lands

Mountains and snow have always beckoned biogeochemist Alia Khan. The Western Washington University assistant professor conducts research on the cryosphere, or Earth’s frozen environments. Her work has taken her to the Himalayas, the Chilean Andes, the Arctic and, most recently, Antarctica. 

But Khan grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina where snowstorms were rare and the rolling Appalachian mountains in the state’s western tip were dwarfed by the peaks Khan would later encounter.

“Somehow I had this affinity for snow,” she said.

Khan, who teaches in the Department of Environmental Sciences, studies how soot and algal growth accelerate snowmelt and climate change in the cryosphere. The data she collects can help scientists predict how fast snow, sea ice and glaciers are melting and how changes in the cryosphere will affect climate. 

Monday, April 4, 2022 - 11:26am