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Earth and Space Sciences Faculty

Portrait Photo

Eric J. Steig
Professor, Earth & Space Sci.
Director, Δ*IsoLab
Adjunct Prof., Atmospheric Sciences

Office: Johnson Hall 351   
Phone: 206-685-3715
Fax: 206-543-3836 (shared)
Δ*IsoLab: 206-543-6327

Photo: Exploring the countryside on Hven, Sweden, during a sabbatical visit to the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen

  • New paper on evaluating the Antarctic observation system, with an eye toward new weather station deployment: Karin Bumbaco et al. in Monthly Weather Review.
  • New paper on South Pole: "The 1500 m South Pole ice core: Recovering a 40,000 year environmental record". Annals of Glaciology, (2014).
  • A new paper describing the complete timescale of the WAIS Divide ice core, to 68,000 years ago: cpd-10-3537-2014.pdf.
  • Calibrated, high-precision measurements of 17O-excess of water by cavity ring down laser spectroscopy, in Atmospheric Measurement Techniques.
  • New paper on 17O-excess data from WAIS Divide, Antarctica. It's temperature and sea ice, not humidity. See our paper led by Spruce Schoenemann in JGR: doi:10.1002/2014JD021770.

  • We will be drilling ice at the South Pole in a few months. See the website: SPicecore.org
  • Areas of Interest:
    Stable isotopes, glaciology, climatology

    Department Affiliations
    Glaciology , Stable Isotope Lab (IsoLab)

    Other UW Academic Affiliations:
    Quaternary Research Center, Program on Climate Change Atmospheric Sciences

    Background & Current Research:
    Eric Steig completed his PhD in Geological Sciences at UW in 1995, was Research Associate at the University of Colorado and Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania before returning to UW in 2001. He directed the Quaternary Research Center from 2008-2013 and launched the current Future of Ice Initiative. (Note, Jody Deming, Oceanography, is the interim chair of Future of Ice this year, while Eric is on sabbatical at the Universities of Copenhagen and Edinburgh.) He is the founding co-director of ISOLAB, a state-of-the art isotope geochemistry facility involving research ranging from climate and atmospheric chemistry to geobiology.

    Steig teaches environmental earth science, isotope geochemistry and paleoclimatology at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. With his graduate students, postdocs, and lab staff, he uses various methods to develop time series of past environmental changes as a context for understanding contemporary and possible future change. Current focus areas include recent temperature and snow accumulation variability in Antarctica; development and application of methods to measure nitrogen isotope concentrations in atmospheric "odd-N" species (HNO3, NO2, NO), and the Δ17O oxygen isotope anomaly in both odd-N and water; and acquisition of ice cores from both Antarctica and temperate alpine regions. He is also collaborating with paleontologist Peter Ward on research at the K-T and other 'mass extinction' boundaries in the geologic record. Research support is from the National Science Foundation's Polar and Atmospheric Sciences Programs, and from the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS).

    He has been a contributor to science planning for glaciological and solid-earth geosciences in the polar regions, to international efforts to track pollution in the Arctic, and to archive and sample allocation at the National Ice Core Laboratory. He is a current member of the NSF-funded Ice Core Working Group and the steering committee for the International Partnerships in Ice Coring Sciences (IPICS) initiative. Steig served as Associate Editor (2001-2004) and Senior Editor (2005-2008) of the journal Quaternary Research, and continues as Special Editor for occasional solicited papers of interest. Steig is active in public education, and has given lectures to organizations such as the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on the Washington State coast, and the Nature Conservancy. He is a founding member and contributor to the influential climate science web site, "RealClimate.org"

    More information on Steig's research is available at the lab web pages and the research group web pages listed above. Check the "Dissertations" page to find out about our former students, and what they are doing now at NCAR, NASA, and unversities around the world.

    Selected Papers

    Link to my google scholar page: Google Scholar.

    Casey KA, Fudge TJ, Neumann TA, Steig EJ, Cavitte MGP, Blankenship DD. The 1500 m South Pole ice core: recovering a 40 ka environmental record. Annals of Glaciology 55(68): 137-146 (2014).

    Bumbaco KA, Hakim GA, Mauger GS, Hyrniw N, Steig EJ. Evaluating the Antarctic observational network with the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS). Monthly Weather Review 142: 3847–38 (2014).

    Steig EJ, Gkinis V, Schauer AJ, Schoenemann SW, Samek K, Hoffnagle J, Dennis KJ, Tan SM. Calibrated high-precision 17O-excess measurements using cavity ring-down spectroscopy with laser-current-tuned cavity resonance. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 7: 2421-2435 (2014).

    Schoenemann SW, Steig EJ, Ding Q, Markle BR, Schauer AJ. Triple water-isotopologue record from WAIS Divide, Antarctica: Controls on glacial-interglacial changes in 17Oexcess of precipitation. Journal of Geophysical Research 119: 8741-8763, (2014).

    Marcott SA, Bauska TK, Buizert C, Steig EJ, Rosen JL, Cuffey KM, Fudget TJ, Severinghaus JP, Ahn J, Kalk ML, McConnell JR, Sowers T, Taylor KC, White JWC, Brook EJ. Centennial-scale changes in the glboal carbon cycle during the last deglaciation. Nature, in press (2014).

    Sofen ED, Alexander B, Steig EJ, Thiemens MH, Kunasek SA, Amos HM, Schauer AJ, Hasting MG, Bautista J, Jackson TL, Vogel LE, McConnell JR, Pasteris DR, Saltzman ES. WAIS Divide ice core suggests sustained changes in the atmospheric formation pathways of sulfate and nitrate since the 19th century in the extratropical Southern Hemisphere. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14, 5794-5769 (2014).

    Neukom R, Gergis J, Karoly D, Wanner H, Curran M, Elbert J, González-Rouco F, Linsley B, Moy AD, Mundo I, Raible CC, Steig EJ, van Ommen T, Vance T, Villalba R, Zinke J, Frank D. Inter-hemispheric temperature variability over the last millennium. Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate2174 (2014).

    Dutrieux P, de Rydt J, Jenkins A, Holland PR, Ha HK, Lee SH, Steig EJ, Ding Q, Abrahamsen EP, Schröder M. Strong sensitivity of Pine Island Ice shelf melting to climatic variability. Science, 343: 174-178 (2014).

    Steiger N, Hakim G, Steig EJ, Battisti DS, Roe G. Assimilation of time-averaged pseudoproxies for climate reconstruction. Journal of Climate, 27: 426-441 (2014).

    WAIS Divide Project Members (TJ Fudge, EJ Steig, BR Markle, SW Schoenemann, Q Ding, K Taylor and others). Onset of deglacial warming in West Antarctica driven by local orbital forcing. Nature, 500 440-444 (2013).

    Ding Q, Wallace JW, Battisti DS, Steig EJ, Gallant AJE, Kim HJ, Geng L. Tropical forcing of the recent rapid Arctic warming in northeastern Canada and Greenland. Nature, 509, 209-212 (2014).

    Steig EJ, Ding Q, White JCW, Küttel M, Rupper SB, Neumann TA, Neff P, Gallant A, Mayewski PA, Taylor DC, Hoffmann G, Dixon DA, Schoenemann S, Markle B, Schneider DP, Fudge TJ, Schauer AJ, Teel RP, Vaughn B, Burgener L, Williams J, Korotkikh E. Recent climate and ice-sheet change in West Antarctica compared to the past 2000 years. Nature Geoscience 6:372-375 (2013).

    Medley B, Joughin I, Smith BE, Das SM, Steig EJ, Conway H, Gogineni S, Lewis C, Criscitiello AS, McConnell JR, van den Broeke MR, Lenaerts JTM, Bromwich DH, Nocholas JP, Leuschen C. Constraining the recent mass balance of Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, West Antarctica with airborne observations of snow accumulation. The Cryosphere, 8: 1275-1392, doi:10.5194/tc-8-1375-2014 (2014).

    Ding Q, Steig EJ. Temperature change on the Antarctic Peninsula linked to the tropical Pacific. Journal of Climate 26:7570-7585 (2013).

    PAGES 2k Consortium. Continental-scale temperature variability during the last two millennia. Nature Geoscience 6: 339-346 (2013).

    Steig EJ & Orsi AJ. The heat is on in Antarctica. Nature Geoscience 6, 87-88 (2013).

    Schoenemann SW, Schauer AJ, Steig EJ. Measurement of SLAP2 and GISP δ17O and proposed VSMOW-SLAP normalization for δ17O and 17Oexcess.Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometery 27: 582-590 (2013).

    Steig EJ. Brief but warm Antarctic summer. Nature 489: 39-40 (2012).

    Tobin TS, Ward PD, Steig EJ, Olivero EB, Hilburn IA, Mitchell RN, Diamond MT, Raub TD, Kirschvink JL. Association of Deccan flood volcanism, climate, and extinction at high southern latitudes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 350-352, 180-188 (2012).

    Neff PD, Steig EJ, Clark DH, McConnell JR, Pettit EC, Menounos B. Ice-core records of net snow accumulation and seasonal snow chemistry at a temperate-glacier site: Mount Waddington, southwest British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Glaciology (PDF) 58(212): 1165-1175 (2012).

    Ding Q, Steig EJ, Battisti DS, Wallace JM. Influence of the tropics on the Southern Annular Mode. Journal of Climate, 25, 6330–63 (2012).

    Küttel M, Steig EJ, Ding Q, Monaghan AJ, Battisti DS. Seasonal climate information preserved in West Antarctic ice core water isotopes: relationships to temperature, large-scale circulation, and sea ice. Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1460-7 (2012).

    Perren BB, Wolfe AP, Cooke CA, Funder SV, Kjaer KJ, Mazzuchi D, Steig EJ. 20th Century warming revives the world’s northernmost lake. Geology, 40, 1003-1006 (2012).

    Hezel PJ, Alexander B, Bitz M, Steig EJ, Holmes CD, Yang X, Sciare J. Modeled methanesulfonic acid (MSA) deposition in Antarctica and its relationship to sea ice. Journal of Geophysical Research D23214, doi:10.1029/2011JD016383 (2011).

    Steig EJ, Ding Q, Battisti DS, Jenkins A. Tropical forcing of circumpolar deep water inflow and outlet glacier thinning in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology 53: 19-28 (2012).

    Ding Q, Steig EJ, Battisti DS, Küttell M. Winter warming in West Antarctica caused by central tropical Pacific warming. Nature Geoscience, 4: 398 403 (2011).

    Fegyveresi JM, Alley RB, Spencer MK, Fitzpatrick JJ, Steig EJ, White JWC, McConnell JR, Taylor KC. Late-Holocene climate evolution at the WAIS Divide site, West Antarctica: bubble number-density estimates. Journal of Glaciology (PDF), 57(204): 629-638 (2011).

    Hastings MG, Jarvis JC, Steig EJ. Anthropogenic impacts on nitrogen isotopes of ice-core nitrate. Science 324: 1288 (2009).

    Steig EJ, Schneider DP, Rutherford SD, Mann ME, Comiso JC, Shindell DT. Warming of the Antarctic ice sheet surface since the 1957 International Geophysical Year. Nature 457 459-462 (2009).

    Last Modified:November, 2014

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