University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Geography


Lecturer - Cathleen (Cathy) Geiger


Contact Information

Old Mill 217



Cathleen (Cathy) Geiger is helping us out this year as an interim lecturer for a new course she is developing as part of the GEOG196 special topics. Her specialty is sea ice and her course is an exploration of local-to-polar connections. Cathy is a Research Professor by training with many years of experience in the field onsea ice. She has developed a number of process models to explain the behavior of sea ice across the spatial scales from the centimeter drill hole measurement to hemispheric satellite imagery composites and across the temporal scales from seconds to years. In terms of expertise, she is a geo-analyst who leverages her multipotentialite skills to explore a variety of data types using geoinformatic techniques to gain insight into sea ice as a complex system.

Over her 33-year polar career, she has witnessed first hand the decline of glaciers and sea ice, but she is optimistic about the resiliency of sea ice to react and recover within a few years to any positive mitigation strategies to offset warming planetary conditions. Essentially, sea ice is a renewable energy resource that keeps the planet in thermal balance. If too much ice melts, then the planet warms up, atmospheric weather more volatile, and people start to feel uncomfortable. Once people do something about the human contributions responsible for warming, then the planetary temperatures will moderate, the sea ice will recover and provide a thermal buffer to keep planetary temperatures in a range that is comfortable for human activities. As an energy reference, each cubic meter of sea ice has as much cooling capacity as a residential whole house air conditioner (~300,000 BTUs).

Several ongoing activities focus on research, education, and communication of ideas to support the advancement of operational tools and scientific discovery. Long-term contributions include the development of analysis tools to support navigation in ice-covered seas and the assessment of interactions and impacts of sea ice in our world.