Dissertation Defence: Adam Hawkins (PhD NRES)

Monday, December 4, 2023 - 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Zoom and Room 19-205, Hakai Lab within the Bioenergy Building, UNBC Prince George Campus
Prince George

The Office of Graduate Administration is pleased to announce that Adam Hawkins will be defending their dissertation as a candidate for the degree Doctorate of Philosophy in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies.

You are encouraged to attend the defence. The details of the defence and how to attend are included below:

DATE: Defence Date: 04 December, 2023

Time:  1:00 PM (PT)

Defence Attendance Type: Hybrid

In-Person Attendees: Room 19-205, Hakai Lab within the Bioenergy Building, UNBC Prince George Campus

Remote Attendees: Please contact the Office of Graduate Administration for information regarding remote/online attendance. 

To ensure the defence proceeds with no interruptions, please mute your audio and video on entry and do not inadvertently share your screenThe meeting will be locked to entry 5 minutes after it begins: ensure you are on time.


ABSTRACT: My dissertation investigates late Pleistocene and Holocene glacier change in western Canada and is presented in five chapters. In chapter one, I discuss the importance of the cryosphere, the techniques used for reconstructing past glacier behavior, previous research that has contributed to our current understanding of past glacier change, and the objectives and structure of my dissertation. In chapter two, I complete a multi-proxy investigation of Holocene glacier change at Gilbert Glacier, in the Southern Coast mountains. I use radiocarbon dating of lateral moraine stratigraphy and cosmogenic nuclide surface exposure dating to constrain the timing and duration of late Holocene advances at Gilbert Glacier to 2.0–1.8, ~1.5–1.3, ~0.9–0.8, and 0.4–0.1 ka. Organic matter associated with glacier advance within the north-lateral moraine at Gilbert Glacier records advances at 4.8–4.6, 4.5–4.3, 4.0–3.9, 3.8–3.6, 3.4, 3.2–2.9, 2.7, and 0.5–0.3 kilo calendar years BP (ka; 2-sigma age range). I advocate for the tandem use of multiple glacial geochronologic tools to better constrain the onset and termination of glacier advances.

Chapter three applies cosmogenic surface exposure dating to a previously understudied region in the Mackenzie and Selwyn mountains of the eastern Yukon and Northwest Territories to develop a late Holocene glacier chronology. Surface exposure ages from 27 moraine boulders across nine glaciers show that glaciers reached their greatest Holocene extent between 1600-1850 CE. I use this glacier chronology to tune a glacier model forced by models of past climate to estimate regional changes in ice volume over the past millennium. Additionally, I use the same glacier model to estimate that glaciers in the region will decline in ice volume by 85% - 97% by 2100 CE.

Chapter four returns to the southern Coast mountains where I use cosmogenic dating on moraine boulders, bedrock surfaces, and shallow bedrock cores to investigate the history of deglaciation and Holocene glacier behavior of a small cirque glacier. Bedrock surfaces within and outside of the late Holocene maximum extent of the glacier record complex burial and exposure histories. I employ a Monte Carlo approach to evaluate the most likely glacier history that can be explained by our data. I discuss how our results compare with the work of previous chapters and past research, and the limitations of this technique to constrain the many variables that impact surface exposure ages.

Chapter five provides a summary of my study’s major findings and further discusses their limitations and broader implications. I conclude with recommendations for future research that will expand on the work presented in this dissertation


Chair: Dr. Roger Wheate,

Faculty of Environment, University of Northern British Columbia

Examining Committee Members:

Supervisor: Dr. Brian Menounos,

Faculty of Environment, University of Northern British Columbia

Committee Member: Dr. Brent Goehring

School of Science & Engineering, Tulane University

Committee Member: Dr. Peter Jackson

Faculty of Environment, University of Northern British Columbia

Committee Member: Dr. Gerald Osborn

Department of Earth, Energy, and Environment, University of Calgary

External Examiner: Dr. Brenda Hall    

School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine

Contact Information

Graduate Administration in the Office of the Registrar,

University of Northern British Columbia

E-mail: grad-office@unbc.ca

Web: https://www2.unbc.ca/graduate-administration

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