I apply environmental chemistry in the cryosphere – the frozen water domain – to document global change of glacier and snow melt in mountainous and polar regions. My research explores the impact of aerosol deposition to the surface of snow and ice, and the resulting impacts on spectral albedo, melt and water quality. I completed my PhD in August 2016 in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado – Boulder, while working at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, an interdisciplinary research institute focused on documenting environmental change in the polar regions. I then worked as a Postdoc at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO with a primary focus on water and snow chemistry in High Mountain Asia as part of a USAID funded project. I have studied snow packs, lakes and reservoirs in Colorado, and glaciers, snow packs, and lakes in the Arctic, Antarctic, and the Himalayan, Andes and Rocky Mountains. My students and I are also delving into local and regional studies within the Pacific Northwest, with an emphasis on Mt. Baker and the downstream Nooksack River watershed.
Current funded projects
NSF-CAREER Award: Coastal Antarctic Snow Algae and Light Absorbing Particles: Snowmelt, Climate and Ecosystem Impacts
NSF - EAGER: Arctic Observing Network - Autonomous retrieval of impurity-laden Arctic sea ice samples and hyperspectral surface properties through innovative robotics
NASA Commercial SmallSat Data Acquisition: Commercial Sensor Evaluation for Detection and Mapping of Snow Algae
NASA Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Sciences: Quantifying Impact of Light Absorbing Aerosols upon Sea Ice in the Changing Arctic Climate
NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education, Education Human Research: ‘Polar Space and Place’: Using GIS and interactive environments to bring Polar science to the classroom
Washington Water Research Grant to study, ‘Do Snow Algae and Black Carbon Contribute to Surface Albedo Reduction of Snow and Glacier Surfaces in the Nooksack River’?
Graduate Student Openings
I am recruiting 1 to 2 grad students for Fall 2024. If interested, please send a one page statement of interest and CV.
Research Tech/Associate Opening
I am looking for a full-time research tech or associate who can assist with analytical wet lab work, a variety of cryosphere fieldwork, manuscript writing and preparation, and processing of remote sensing images. If interested, please send a one page statement of interest and CV, as well as details highlighting your experience with cryosphere fieldwork, analytical chemistry or relevant lab work experience, QGIS/ArcGIS/ENVI for processing remote sensing imagery, scientific programming skills such as Python and Matlab, as well as experience using statistical computing platforms, such as R.
Biogeochemistry; hydrochemistry; black carbon and light absorbing aerosols; snow algae; snow/ice albedo; spectral geophysics; carbon cycling in polar and alpine environments; snow and glacial hydrology; climate impacts
*Designates student advisee.
2023 Khan, A. L., Xian, P., and Schwarz, J.: Black carbon concentrations and modeled smoke deposition fluxes to the bare ice dark zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet, The Cryosphere, https://tc.copernicus.org/articles/17/2909/2023/tc-17-2909-2023.pdf
2023 *Healy, S and Khan, A.L., “UAV remote detection of snow algae and the radiative forcing responses in the North Cascades.” Communications Earth and Environment, https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-023-00768-8
2023 Di Mauro, Biagio; Cappelletti, David; Moroni, Beatrice; Mazzola, Mauro; Gilardoni, Stefania; Luks, Bartłomiej; Nawrot, Adam; Lewandowski, Marek; Dagsson Waldhauserova, Pavla; Meinander, Outi; Wittmann, Monika; Kaspari, Susan; Khan, Alia. Dust in Svalbard: local sources versus long-range transported dust (SVALDUST). In SESS report 2022 – The State of Environmental Science in Svalbard – an annual report (pp. 62-77). Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System, https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7377518
2022 Cordero, R. R., Sepúlveda, E., Feron, S., Damiani, A., Fernandoy, F., Neshyba, S., ... & Khan, A.L., Casassa, G. (2022). Black carbon footprint of human presence in Antarctica. Nature Communications, 13(1), 1-11, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-28560-w
2022 *Healy, S. and Khan, A.L. Mapping glacier ablation with a UAV in the North Cascades: A comparison of traditional approaches to glacier mass balance with structure from motion technology. Frontiers In Remote Sensing, https://doi.org/10.3389/frsen.2021.764765
2022 Cordero, R. R., Sepúlveda, E., Feron, S., Damiani, A., Fernandoy, F., Neshyba, S., ... & Khan, A.L., Casassa, G. “Black Carbon in the Southern Andean Snowpack”, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac5df0
2022 Veyssiere, G., Castellani, G., Wilkinson, J., Karcher, M., Hayward, A., Stroeve, J. C., Nicolaus M, Kim JH, Yang EJ, Valcic L, Kauker F., Khan, A.L, Rogers, I. Under-Ice Light Field in the Western Arctic Ocean during late Summer. Frontiers in Earth Science, 1337, https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2021.643737
2021 Khan, A. L., Dierssen, H.M., Scambos, T.A., Höfer, J., and Cordero, R. R.: Spectral characterization, radiative forcing, and pigment content of coastal Antarctic snow algae: approaches to spectrally discriminate red and green communities and their impact on snowmelt, The Cryosphere, 15, 133-148, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-133-2021
2021 Khan, A. L., Sokol, E. R., McKnight, D. M., Saunders, J. F., Hohner, A. K., & Summers, R. S. Phytoplankton Drivers of Dissolved Organic Material Production in Colorado Reservoirs and the Formation of Disinfection By-Products. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 9, 259, https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2021.673627
2021 Schulte, N., Khan, A.L., Smith, E., Zoumplis, A., Kaul, D., Allen, A., Adams, B., McKnight, D. Blowin’ in the wind: dispersal, structure, and metacommunity dynamics of aeolian diatoms in the McMurdo Sound region, Antarctica. Journal of Phycology, https://doi.org/10.1111/jpy.13223
2020 Khan A.L., Rittger, K., Xian, P., Katich, J., Armstrong, R., Kayastha, R., Dana, J., McKnight, D.; Yak-dung burning influences refractory black carbon concentrations in seasonal snow at lower elevations of the Dudh Koshi River Basin of Nepal, https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00371
2020 Lee, S., Stroeve, J., Tsamados, M., & Khan, A. L. Machine learning approaches to retrieve pan-Arctic melt ponds from visible satellite imagery. Remote Sensing of Environment, 247, doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2020.111919
2020 Diaz, M., Lyons, B., Welch, S., Welch, K., Khan, A.L., McKnight, D., Adams, B and Cary, C. Geochemistry of aeolian material from the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica: insights into Southern Hemisphere dust sources. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116460
2019 Khan A.L., Klein, A., Katich, J., Xian, P. “Local emissions and regional wildfires influence refractory black carbon observations near Palmer Station, Antarctica”, Frontiers in Earth Science – Atmosphere Section, https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2019.00049
2019 Bracegirdle, Thomas J., Colleoni, Florence, Abram, Nerilie J., Bertler, Nancy A.N., Dixon, Daniel A., England, Mark, Favier, Vincent, Fogwill, Chris J., Fyfe, John C., Goodwin, Ian, Goose, Hugues, Hobbs, Will, Jones, Julie M., Keller, Elizabeth D., Khan, Alia L., Phipps, Steven J., Raphael, Marilyn N., Russell, Joellen, Sime, Louise, Thomas, Elizabeth R., van den Broeke, Michiel R., Wainer, Ilana. (2019) Back to the Future: Using long-term observational and paleo-proxy reconstructions to improve model projections of Antarctic climate. Geosciences, 9, doi: 10.3390/geosciences906025
2018 Khan A.L., McMeeking, G., Schwarz, J.P, Xian, P., Welch, K., Lyons, B., McKnight, D. “Refractory black carbon measured in snow and air in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica and potential impacts of foehn winds”, Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, doi.org/10.1002/2017JD027696
2018 Khan A.L., Bracegirdle, T., Russell, J. “Can We Crack the Climate Code of the Southern Polar Region?”, EOS, 99, doi.org/10.1029/2018EO100467
2018 Khan, A.L. “U.S. and China Assess Ecosystem Effects of a Fading Cryosphere”, EOS, 99, doi.org/10.1029/2018EO091875
2018 Armstrong, R.L., Rittger, K., Brodzik, M.J., Racoviteanu, A., Barrett, A.P., Singh Khalsa, S.J., Raup, B., Hill, A., Khan, A.L., Wilson, A., Kayastha, R.B., Fetterer, F., Armstrong, B. Reg Environ Change (2018), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1429-0
2018 Diaz, M. A., Adams, B. J., Welch, K. A., Welch, S. A., Opiyo, S. O., Khan, A. L., McKnight, D., Cary, C., Lyons, B. Aeolian material transport and its role in landscape connectivity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123, 3323-3337. https://doi.org/10.1029/2017JF004589
2017 Khan, A. L., Wagner, S, Jaffe, R., Xian, P., Williams, M., Armstrong, R., and McKnight, D., “Dissolved black carbon in the global cryosphere: Concentrations and chemical signatures”, Geophysical Research Letters, 44, doi:10.1002/2017GL073485
2017 Khan, A.L., Dierssen, H., Schwartz, J., Schmitt, C., Hermanson, M., Painter, T., McKnight, D, “Impacts of coal dust on the spectral reflectance of Arctic surface snow in Svalbard, Norway”, Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, doi:10.1002/2016JD025757
2017 Stibal, M., J. E. Box, K. A. Cameron, P. L. Langen, M. L. Yallop, R. H. Mottram, A. L. Khan, N. P. Molotch, N. A. M. Chrismas, F. Calì Quaglia, D. Remias, C. J. P. P. Smeets, M. R. van den Broeke, J. C. Ryan, A. Hubbard, M. Tranter, D. van As, A. P., Ahlstrøm, “Algae drive enhanced darkening of bare ice on the Greenland ice sheet”, Geophysical Research Letters, 44, doi:10.1002/2017GL075958.
2017 Gutt, J., Isla, E., Bertler, N., …Khan, A.L., …Wall, D., Wilson, N., Xavier, J., “Cross-disciplinarity in the advance of Antarctic ecosystem research”, Marine Genomics, doi: 10.1016/j.margen.2017.09.006
2016 Khan, A. L., R. Jaffe, Y. Ding, and D.M. McKnight, “Dissolved black carbon in Antarctic lakes: Chemical signatures of past and present sources”, Geophysical Research Letters, 43, doi: 10.1002/2016GL068609
2015 Mayewski, P.A., T. Bracegirdle, I. Goodwin, D. Schneider, N.A.N. Bertler, S. Birkel, A. Carleton, M. H. England, J-H. Kang, A. Khan, J. Russell, J. Turner and I. Veliconga, “Potential for Southern Hemisphere climate surprises”, Quaternary Science, 30, 391-395, 10.1002/jqs.2794
2012 Alia Lauren Khan, “Creative Adaptation: Bangladesh's Resilience to Flooding in a Changing Climate," in Climate Change Modelling For Local Adaptation In The Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region Armando Lamadrid, Ilan Kelman, eds. (Community, Environment and Disaster Risk Management, Volume 11), Emerald Group Publishing, 159 - 175, DOI: 10.1108/S2040-7262(2012)0000011015
2011 Brown, J., Stauber, C., Murphy, J., Khan, A., Mu, T., Elliott, M., Sobsey, M. “Ambient temperature incubation for the field detection of E. coli in drinking water”, Journal of Applied Microbiology, 110(4), 915-923. 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04940.x
Watershed Biogeochemistry Capstone Course (includes field trips to the local Nooksack River watershed)
Global Change in the Cryosphere (includes a field trip to Mt. Baker to conduct snow science, as well as geospatial analyses and data-analysis of cryospheric and polar data in the computer lab).