Valentina Radic

Assistant Professor

ESB 3065
(604) 827-1446

My research interests cover a broad range of topics related to global climate change, in particular: climate change impact studies, the contribution of glaciers to sea level rise, estimates of present and future glacier mass changes on regional and global scale, downscaling of global and regional climate models, and the evaluation of climate model performance.The primary focus of my current research is on processes at the climate-glacier interface, especially on numerical modeling of glacier response to climate forcing.

Past and ongoing research

1) Modeling the contribution of future glacier melt to sea level rise

World-wide melting of mountain glaciers and ice caps (i.e. glaciers other than the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets) has been identified as a significant contributor to current and future sea-level rise. Global sea-level rise is expected to continue throughout the 21st century, with major impacts on coastal cities, deltaic lowlands, small islands and coastal ecosystems. During my PhD research (2004-2008), I developed and applied novel numerical and statistical methods to project the future contribution of glacier melt to sea-level rise in response to future climate forcing scenarios from global climate models. This research has explored the following scientific questions:

  • How much will melting glaciers contribute to global sea level rise in the 21st century and what are the uncertainties in these projections?
    Radić & Hock (2011) provided one of the first detailed and regionally resolved projections of glacier mass change on a global scale. With the developed surface mass balance model we projected the 21st century mass change for all glaciers in response to future temperature and precipitation scenarios from ten global climate models. We identified the regions with the largest contribution to future sea level rise (Arctic Canada, Alaska and Antarctic glaciers) and the regions most vulnerable to glacier wastage (European Alps, New Zealand, Caucasus; which are projected to lose more than 75% of their current ice volume by 2100). In Radić et al. (2013) we updated the results using new global glacier inventory and new climate scenarios prepared for the Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC.
  • What is the total, worldwide volume of mountain glaciers and the equivalent sea-level rise if they were all to melt?
    Radić & Hock (2010) developed a statistical upscaling method, based on theoretical area-volume scaling relationships of individual glaciers, in order to estimate regional and global glacier volumes. This was the first study to provide detailed regional and global assessments of glacier volumes based on, at the time, incomplete global glacier inventory.
  • How can ice flow dynamics of individual glaciers within global inventories be predicted?
    Radić et al. (2008) developed and tested a methodology for simulating glacier flow using a small number of degrees of freedom, based on a theoretical scaling argument linking glacier area to glacier volume. This methodology allowed us to simulate individual glacier geometry changes at the global scale rather than assuming static glacier geometries. The scaling method is still being widely used in the glaciological community as the currently most optimal approach for modeling the dynamics of individual mountain glaciers globally.

2) Regional mass-balance modeling of glaciers in western Canada

Beyond having an effect on global sea level, regional glacier mass changes have major implications for regional hydrology, in particular the seasonality of runoff and the availability of fresh water for irrigation and hydropower generation. My postdoctoral research at UBC (2008-2012) has focused on a highly detailed study of glacier changes in western Canada, where significant infrastructure investment in hydropower generation in British Columbia relies on future water resources. As part of The Western Canadian Cryospheric Network (WC2N; a consortium of university, provincial, and federal researchers funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, CFCAS) we have focused on assessing the current and future mass changes of glaciers in western Canada. Under leadership of Garry Clarke, our UBC glaciology group has developed a Regional Glaciation Model which couples a model of glacier surface mass balance with an ice dynamics model of high complexity, allowing us to produce high-resolution simulations of mass changes for the full suite of glaciers in the region. The final results of this work are presented in Clarke et al. (2015). Under the same research project I developed a method (Radić & Clarke 2011) for evaluation of global climate models whose climate scenarios are used for projections of glaciers evolution in this region.

3) Future of synoptic weather patterns which cause flooding in Pacific NorthwestNorth America

Synoptic weather patterns that enhance water vapour transport over North Pacific Ocean, such as atmospheric rivers, are common triggers for flooding in Pacific Northwest North America (coastal Washington and British Columbia). The goal of this collaborative project, initiated in spring 2013, is to analyze the performance of global climate models in simulating synoptic patterns responsible for historical flooding, and to project future of these patterns and related extreme events. The final results of this work are presented in Radic et al. (2015)

Research objectives

The long-term objective of my research program is to develop physically based models of glacier response to climate change on regional and global scale, and to narrow the uncertainties in the projections of glacier contribution to sea level rise. I plan to reach this broad goal by tackling the following short- and medium-term objectives. The short-term objective is to develop and validate a physically based model of surface mass balance on a regional scale. Particularity, I ask the following questions: (A) Can physically based models (i.e. energy mass balance models) successfully simulate surface mass changes for the full suite of glaciers? (B) Can mesoscale weather models (such as WRF model) be used to adequately downscale climate fields that drive regional glacier mass changes? (C) How successful is the performance of global climate models in simulating large-scale climate features relevant for glacier mass changes in a region of interest? The medium-term objective, which bridges the short with the long-term goal, is to develop and validate a model of glacier dynamics to be coupled with the surface mass balance model on regional scale. Here, the driving questions are: (D) How to simulate glacier dynamics for a full suite of glaciers in a region of complex topography? (E) For the glaciers that experience mass reduction through iceberg calving, how successful can this mass loss be simulated by the ice dynamics model? The above research questions are currently focused on mountain glaciers of western Canada, but the models are aimed to be developed with high transferability to other glacierized regions.


- 2017 -
Fitzpatrick N., Radić V. and Menounos B. (2017) Surface Energy Balance Closure and Turbulent Flux Parameterization on a Mid-Latitude Mountain Glacier, Purcell Mountains, Canada. Front. Earth Sci. 5:67. doi: 10.3389/feart.2017.00067

Gilbert A., Flowers G. E., Miller G. H., Refsnider K., Young N. E. and V. Radić (2017) The projected demise of Barnes Ice Cap: evidence of an unusually warm 21st century Arctic. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, doi: 10.1002/2016GL072394

- 2016 -
Aubry T. J., Jellinek A. M., Degruyter W., Bonadonna C., Radić V., Clynne M. and A. Quainoo (2016) Impact of global warming on the rise of volcanic plumes and implications for future volcanic aerosol forcing. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 121(22): 13326-13351, doi:10.1002/2016JD025405.

Schannwell C, Barrand N. E. and V. Radić (2016) Future sea-level rise from tidewater and ice-shelf tributary glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 453: 161-170

Unglert K., Radić V. and A. M. Jellinek (2016) Principal component analysis vs. self-organizing maps combined with hierarchical clustering for pattern recognition in volcano seismic spectra. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 320: 58-74, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.04.014

- 2015 -
Schannwell C, Barrand N. E. and V. Radić (2015) Modeling ice dynamic contributions to sea level rise from the Antarctic Peninsula. J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surface, 120 (11): 2374-2392, doi:10.1002/2015JF003667.

Chartrand S. M., M. A. Hassan and V. Radić (2015) Pool-riffle sedimentation and surface texture trends in a gravel bed stream. Water Resour. Res., 51, doi:10.1002/2015WR017840.

Radić V., A. J. Cannon, B. Menounos and N. Gi (2015) Future changes in autumn atmospheric river events in British Columbia, Canada, as projected by CMIP5 global climate models. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 120, doi:10.1002/2015JD023279.

Clarke G. K. C., A. H. Jarosch, F. S. Anslow, V. Radić and B. Menounos (2015) Projected deglaciation of Western Canada in the 21st century. Nature Geosci., 8: 372-377, doi:10.1038/ngeo2407.  

- 2014 -
Pfeffer W. T., A. Arendt, A. Bliss, T. Bolch, J. G. Cogley, A. Gardner, J. Hagen, R. Hock, G. Kaser, C. Kienholz, E. Miles, G. Moholdt, N. Mölg, F. Paul, V. Radić, P. Rastner, B. Raup, J. Rich and M. Sharp (2014) The Randolph Glacier Inventory: a globally complete inventory of glaciers. J. Glaciol., 60(221): 537-552, doi:10.3189/2014JoG13J176.  

Bliss A., R. Hock and V. Radić (2014) Global response of glacier runoff to twenty-first century climate change. J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf., 119: 717-730, doi:10.1002/2013JF002931.

Radić V. and R. Hock (2014) Glaciers in the Earth's hydrological cycle: assessments of glacier mass and runoff changes on global and regional scales. Surv. Geophys., 35: 813-837, doi: 10.1007/s10712-013-9262-y.

Radić V., A. Bliss, A. C. Beedlow, R. Hock, E. Miles and J. G. Cogley (2014) Regional and global projections of twenty-first century glacier mass changes in response to climate scenarios from global climate models. Clim. Dyn., 42(1-2): 37-58, doi:10.1007/s00382-013-1719-7.

- 2013 -
Mernild S. H., W. H. Lipscomb, D. B. Bahr, V. Radić and M. Zemp (2013) Global glacier changes: a revised assessment of committed mass losses and sampling uncertainties. The Cryosphere, 7: 1565-1577, doi: 10.5194/tc-7-1565-2013.

Levermann A., P. U. Clark, B. Marzeion, G. A. Milne, D. Pollard, V. Radić and A. Robinson (2013) The multimillennial sea-level commitment of global warming. PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1219414110.

- 2012 -
Clarke G. K. C., F. S. Anslow, A. H. Jarosch, V. Radić, B. Menounos, T. Bolch and E. Berthier (2012) Ice volume and subglacial topography for western Canadian glaciers from mass balance fields, thinning rates, and a bed stress model. J. Climate, e-View, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00513.1

Bahr D. B. and V. Radić (2012) Significant contribution to total mass from very small glaciers. The Cryosphere, 6: 763-770, doi: 10.5194/tc-6-763-2012.

- 2011 -
Radić V. and G. K. C. Clarke (2011) Evaluation of IPCC models performance in simulating late 20th century climatologies and weather patterns over North America. J. Climate, 24: 5257-5274, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00011.

Radić V. and R. Hock (2011) Regionally differentiated contribution of mountain glaciers and ice caps to future sea-level rise. Nature Geosci., 4: 91-94, doi:10.1038/NGEO1052. 

- 2010 -
Radić V. and R. Hock (2010) Regional and global volumes of glaciers derived from statistical upscaling of glacier inventory data. J. Geophys. Res., 115, F01010, doi:10.1029/2009JF001373.

- 2009 -
Hock R., M. de Woul, V. Radić  and M. Dyurgerov (2009) Mountain glaciers and ice caps around Antarctica make a large sea-level rise contribution. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07501, doi:10.1029/2008GL037020.

- 2008 -
Radić V., R. Hock and J. Oerlemans (2008) Analysis of scaling methods in deriving future volume evolutions of valley glaciers. J. Glaciol., 54(187): 601-612. 

- 2007 -
Radić V., R. Hock and J. Oerlemans (2007) Volume-area scaling vs flowline modelling in glacier volume projections. Ann. Glaciol., 46: 234-240. 

Hock R., V. Radić, M. de Woul (2007) Climate sensitivity of Storglaciären – An intercomparison of mass balance models using ERA-40 reanalysis and regional climate model data. Ann. Glaciol., 46: 342-348.

- 2006 -
Radić V. and R. Hock (2006) Modeling future glacier mass balance and volume changes using ERA-40 reanalysis and climate models: A sensitivity study at Storglaciären, Sweden. J. Geophys. Res., 111, F03003, doi:10.1029/2005JF000440.

Assistant Professor - University of British Columbia (2012 - ongoing)
Post-doctoral fellow - University of British Columbia (2008 - 2012)
PhD - University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute, AK, USA (2007 - 2008) thesis pdf
Licentiate - Stockholm University, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm, Sweden (2004 - 2007)
MSc & BSc - University of Zagreb, Department of Geophysics, Zagreb, Croatia (1998 - 2004)

Graduate Students

PhD Atmospheric Sciences
PhD Atmospheric Sciences

Prospective graduate and undergraduate research students

The following sections are mainly copied from the website of my colleague, with his approval. I found myself fully agreeing with his statements, which can also be very informative and insightful to any student interested in graduate program in my group.

I currently have no funded opportunities for prospective graduate students.

The Canadian funding system does not realistically allow paying for fieldwork and full student salaries. (I could go on, but it's best summed up in the words of a colleague: "It's not a research funding system, it's a research prize system": the amount of funding that flows to a researcher typically depends on their previous performance, not on the cost of the proposed research. Illogical, but true.) A scholarship is therefore typically your best bet for entering graduate school at UBC. Scholarships available in Canada and at UBC are typically awarded competitively, so a strong performance in your last degree is essential. For Canadian applicants and permanent residents, note that NSERC funding applications for graduate scholarships have to be submitted in October of the year before you plan to start your studies. To get full consideration for internal scholarships at UBC, your application to EOAS has to be complete with references by the start of January. EOAS typically requires you to have the equivalent of a thesis-based MSc before acceptance into the PhD program. With satisfactory progress, you may be permitted to transfer from the EOAS MSc program into the PhD program without completing the MSc (note however that there are no internal scholarships for MSc students at UBC that I am aware of). There turns out to be some logic to the MSc-before-PhD requirement - committing to a four year PhD without prior graduate research experience is a risky thing to do. See below.

The most important quality in a graduate student is the ability to be fully engaged with a research project for several years, and the desire - compulsion, really - to keep learning and get to the heart of whatever you're doing, no matter how frustrating. Especially when it gets frustrating. If you've never felt truly challenged in your previous degree, that may not be a good thing: everyone meets their match in research, sooner or later. Likewise, if you've never felt compelled to take a project or assignment further than what the homework script asked for, you might want to ask yourself why you want to do graduate studies. If your main reason is that you want to continue your undergraduate experience, then graduate school is definitely not for you - there are no neat, definitely do-able assignments, everything is open-ended to an extent, and "low-hanging fruit" is likely to be few and far between. You also have to work working days like the rest of the population, and may spend more than the 9 till 5 period doing it. And you have to be organized and disciplined about your work. Lastly, if your primary motivation for wanting to come to UBC is outdoor recreation, please consider a different way of moving here. Someone out there is paying their taxes to support our research, and hence to pay your way in grad school.

If you're still reading...pursuing research is also a lot of fun, though occasionally the fun is more apparent after the fact.

For work in my group, strong mathematics and physics skills are essential. You should have fluency in calculus, linear algebra, and be very familiar with differential equations, data analysis and statistics. Supervision through the Institute of Applied Mathematics is possible: there is a strong fluid dynamics presence across campus.

For the fieldwork- and data-oriented side of research in my group, experience with instrumentation, experimental work and / or practical engineering is important, as are strong quantitative skills in the physical sciences in general. You need to have a good grasp of physics and university-level mathematics. The ultimate aim is to generate high-quality data that can be used to test and further develop quantitative models of glaciological and/or meteorological phenomena, so you will need to understand these models. Also essential may be a willingness to spend weeks living and working in a cold and often wet (though arguably beautiful) places while never getting to explore them for fun. The reality is that fieldwork consists of often repetitive tasks that require a lot of attention to detail under physically demanding conditions, and an absolute need to stay safe that may be absent from your personal outdoor activities. You will not be calling the shots as to what is an acceptable level of risk or how we operate in the field. If that is a problem for you, please fulfil your outdoor needs in a different way. Basic outdoor and mountaineering skills (glacier travel, backcountry travel) are of course useful, but the main purpose of fieldwork is sadly not to have fun. Rather, it is to gather the best data possible, which can often only be done at the cost of spending large sums of research funding, see above.... Above all, common sense and an ability to get on with others are great assets in the field.