This tweet shows "Glaciologist Princess Elsa" is actually Caltech geophysics PhD student and cryoseismologist Celeste Labedz.

The BBC News article What's a 'Science Princess' doing in an ice field in Alaska? says in a figure caption:

Celeste Labedz had to cut her research trip short as the glacier was too warm.

Question: What risks or problems would a "too warm" glacier pose to a geophysics and cryoseismology based expedition? Might the problem have been more related to safety or to the quality of the data?

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    $\begingroup$ My guess is it's a safety concern, but not my area, so hopefully an expert will come along. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 22:54
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe "princess" doesn't like working in the so called heat, preferring to work in a cold environment. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


I'm the scientist in the article; someone just saw this question and emailed me about it! (I'm on as a guest here since I don't have an account, so you'll hopefully trust it's me. Even if you don't believe it's me, I hope the answer will still be useful.)

It's entirely a safety issue. The best way to get around on the surface of the glaciers in this area is to cross-country ski on the snowy surface. If that snow gets thin or melts away completely, it's very risky to be on the glacier because the crevasses in the ice below become exposed. We're all trained in crevasse rescue, but we'd rather no one fall in the first place! My field site normally has ample snow thickness at the time I was there, but an early and extreme heat wave in the area put the whole icefield about a month ahead in the melt season. We did our best getting as much data as possible, but ultimately safety comes first and we had to get out of there.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Stack Exchange, and thank you for stopping by! Usually answers are expected to include supporting links or references but from time to time answers to some questions based on first-hand experience are acceptable and welcome, so I think in this case this is as authoritative and well-sourced of an answer as it's going to get! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 5:16
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    $\begingroup$ Just fyi, in case you have a look around and find this or some other of the nearly 200 Stack Exchange sites interesting; if at some point you choose to register you can either link back to this ID, or start a new one. Either way your e-mail address is only visible to the moderators. Here are some other examples of authors who have stopped by to comment: 1, 2, 3 $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome, Celeste. We always need more experts, so I hope you might stick around and browse every so often. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 21:19

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