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Cornell University


Cornell Hydrology, Ice, and Radar Physics Lab


The CHIRP Lab is led by Riley Culberg. We investigate the subsurface hydrology and internal structure of ice sheets and icy planetary bodies using ice-penetrating radar and other geophysical and remote sensing methods.

Much of our research focuses on understanding how the dynamics of water systems inside ice sheets and glaciers impact their mass balance and stability in a warming world. We are particularly interested in feedbacks between climate and near-surface hydrology and the role of englacial water systems in modulating water and heat exchange between the ice sheet surface and bed.

Our primary tool is ice-penetrating radar and we work to develop new data processing, analysis, and inversion methods to quantitatively constrain the physical properties of the subsurface and their evolution in both space and time. We integrate these observations with remotely sensed data, in situ observations, and numerical models to expand our process-scale understanding of ice sheet hydrology.

Research Areas

Firn Dynamics


Understanding the refreezing, storage, and flow of surface meltwater in the top 50 meters of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets.

Fracture & Flow


Exploring the role of fracture in modulating water and heating exchange between the supraglacial and subglacial or ocean systems.

Radar Geophysics


Applying electromagnetic theory to infer the subsurface geometry and material properties of the ice sheet from ice-penetrating radar data.