Daniel Lawson

Visiting Scholar
Academic Appointments

Resident Scholar of Geography

I am interested in the cryospheric processes that shape our planet within Arctic and Alpine regions, both in the present and in the past.  I examine those processes through field and laboratory investigations that are multi-disciplinary in approach and provide a quantitative understanding of the physical systems of glacial, periglacial, and permafrost environments. Studies of the modern systems provide knowledge that can be applied to interpreting the past, particularly their response to changes in climate. Understanding the impacts of climate variability in the past and present provides the basis for predicting response to climate variability in the future.

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My current research is examining terrestrial and tidewater glacier dynamics, principally the advancing tidewater Hubbard Glacier in southeast Alaska, the Matanuska Glacier in south-central Alaska and the glacial systems that occupy the fjords and valleys of Glacier Bay, also in southeast Alaska.  In addition as part of the Glacier Bay studies, I am examining the glacial record since the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) (~17,000 years ago) when North America and the Cordilleran regions were covered by ice. These studies involve collaborations with other scientists to develop paleotemperature records from geochemical relationships and tree-ring analyses of trees preserved after being overridden by several glacial advances. The most recent advance during the Little Ice Age can be tied into the oral history of the Tlingit whose ancestral homeland was in Glacier Bay before the ice drove them out in approximately 1755. My ongoing investigations of permafrost environments are applying sedimentology of the frozen materials and stable isotopes in ground ice to elucidate the processes and paleoclimate in the unglaciated regions of interior and northern Alaska during the LGM. Linked to these latter studies are important concerns on carbon recycling and sequestration, and its potential release as climate warms in the future.



Lachniet, M.S., Lawson, D.E., Stephen, H., Sloat, A.R. and Patterson, W.P., 2016, Isoscapes of d18O and d2H reveal climatic forcings on Alaska and Yukon precipitation, Water Resour. Res., 52, doi:10.1002/2016WR019436


Vasil’chuk, Y.K., Lawson, D. E. and Yoshikawa, K., 2016. Stable Isotopes in the closed-system Weather Pingo, Alaska and Pestsovoye Pingo, northwestern Siberia. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 128, 13 - 21.


Horton, J.M., Wiles, G.C., Lawson, D.E., Appleton, S.N., Wilch, J. and Wiesenberg, N., 2016, Tree ring dated glacial hstory for the First Millennium CE Casement Glacier and Adams Inlet, Glacier Bay, Alaska, USA: Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, 48 (2): 253-261.


Larson, G., Lawson, D.E., Menzies, J. and Evenson, E.B. 2016. Micro- and macro-sedimentology of a modern meltout till, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, USA. Boreas,45(2): 235-251.


Stearns, L.A., Hamilton, G.S., van der Veen, C.J., Lawson, D.E., Finnegan, D.F., O’Neel, S., and Scheick, J., 2015. Glaciological and marine geological controls on terminus dynamics of Hubbard Glacier, southeast Alaska. Jour. Geophysical Res., DOI: 10.1002/2014JF003341


Jarvis, S. K., Wiles, G.C., Appleton, S.N., D’Arrigo, R.D. and Lawson, D.E., 2013, A warming-induced biome shift detected in tree growth of Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana (Bong.) Carrière) along the Gulf of Alaska. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 45, DOI 10.1657/1938-4246-45.2.


Goff, J. A., Lawson, D. E., Willems, B.A., Davis, M. and Gulick, S. P. S. 2012. Morainal bank progradation and sediment accumulation in Disenchantment Bay, Alaska: Response to advancing Hubbard Glacier, Jour. Geophysical Res., 117, F02031, doi:10.1029/2011JF002312


Lachniet, M.S., Lawson, D.E. and Sloat, A.R. 2012. Rvised 14C dating of ice wedge growth in interior Alaska to MIS2 reveals cold paleoclimate and carbon recycling in ancient permafrost terrain. Quaternary Research, 78:217-225, doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2012.05.007.


Wiles, G.C., Mennett, C., Jarvis, S.K., Lawson, D. and D’Arrigo, R., 2012, Decline in Alaskan Yellow-Cedar: tree-ring investigations into climatic responses and possible causes: Glacier Bay, Alaska: Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 42: 1–6, doi:10.1139/X2012-028


Yoshikawa, K., Lawson, D.E., and Natsagdorj, S., 2012,  Stable isotope composition of ice cores in open- and closed-system pingos, Tenth Int. Permafrost Conf., Proceedings, 1: 1-6


Wiles, G.W., Lawson, D.E., Lyon, E. and Wiesenberg, N., 2011, Tree-ring dates on two pre-Little Ice Age advances from Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA., Quaternary Research,  76: 190-195, 10.1016/j.yqres.2011.05.005


Larson, G.J., Lawson, D. E., Evenson, E.B., Knudsen, O, Alley, R.A. and Phanikumar, M.S. 2010. Origin of stratified basal ice in outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull and Öræfajökull, Iceland. Boreas, 39: 1-14.


O'Farrell, C.R., Heimsath, A.M., Lawson, D.E., Jorgensen, L.M., Evenson, E.B., Larson, G., Denner, J. 2009. Quantifying periglacial erosion: insights on a glacial sediment budget, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 34: 2008 – 2022.


Kopczynski, S., J. Ramage, D. Lawson, S. Goetz, E. Evenson, J. Denner, and G. Larson., 2008, Passive microwave (SSM/I) satellite predictions of valley glacier hydrology, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, Geophysical. Res. Letters., 35, L16502, doi:10.1029/2008GL034615


Wilson, D.K., Lawson, D. E., Albert, D.G., Bigl, M.F., Finnegan, D., Ostashev, V.E. and   Goedecke, G.H., 2008, Wave scattering and sensing strategies in intermittent terrestrial environments. Proceedings, 26th Army Science Conference, Orlando (Dec. 2008), Paper QO-03: 1 – 8.


Lawson, D.E., Finnegan, D.C., Kopczynski, S.E., and Bigl, S.R., 2007, Early to mid-Holocene glacier fluctuations in Glacier Bay, Alaska, in Piatt, J.F., and Gende, S.M., eds., Proceedings of the Fourth Glacier Bay Science Symposium: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report, 2007-5047,  54-56.


Larson, G.J., Lawson, D. E., Evenson, E.B., Alley, R.A., Knudsen, O., Lachniet, M.S. and Goetz, S.L. 2006. Glaciohydraulic supercooling in former ice sheets?  Geomorphology.  75: 20 – 32.


Alley, R.A., Lawson, D.E., Larson, G.L., Evenson, E.B. and Baker, G.S. 2003. Stabilizing feedbacks in glacier-bed erosion. Nature, 424, 758 – 760.


Larson, G.J., Evenson, E.B., Lawson, D.E., Ensminger, S.L., Baker, G.S. and Alley, R.A. 2003. Glacial geology of upper Cook Inlet, Matanuska Glacier and Denali Highway, Alaska. In:                   ” Quaternary geology of the United States” (Easterbrook, D. J. ed.), INQUA 2003 Field Guide Volume, Desert Res. Inst., Reno, NV, 245 – 264.


Alley, R.A., Lawson, D.E., Evenson, E.B., and Larson, G.J. 2003. Sediment, glaciohydraulic supercooling and fast glacier flow. Annals of Glaciology. 36, 135 – 141.


Alley, R.B., Strasser, J.C., Lawson, D.E., Evenson, E.B. and Larson, G.J. 1999. Some glaciological and geological implications of basal ice accretion in an overdeepening. In: Mickelson, D. and Attig, J.W. (eds), “Glacial Processes Past and Present”: Boulder, CO, Geological Society of America, Special Paper 337, 1-10.


Lawson, D.E., Strasser, J.C., Evenson, E.B., Alley, R.B., Larson, G.J. and Arcone, S.A. 1998. Glaciohydraulic supercooling: A freeze-on mechanism to create stratified, debris-rich basal ice. 1. Field evidence. Journal of Glaciology, 44(148): 547-561.


Alley, R.B., Lawson, D.E., Evenson, E.B., Strasser, J. and Larson, G.J. 1998. Glaciohydraulic supercooling: A freeze-on mechanism to create stratified, debris-rich basal ice. 2. Theory. Journal of Glaciology, 44(148): 562-568.


Arcone, S.A., Lawson, D.E., Delaney, A.J., Strasser, J.C. and Strasser, J.D. 1998. Ground-penetrating radar reflection profiling of groundwater and bedrock in an area of discontinuous permafrost. Geophysics, 63: 1573-1584.


Alley, R.B., Cuffey, K.M., Evenson, E.B., Lawson, D.E., Strasser, J.C. and Larson, G.J. 1997. How glacier’s entrain and transport basal sediment: Physical constraints. Quaternary Science Reviews, 16: 1027-1038.




Wiles, G.C., Lawson, D.E., Moss, M.B., Howell, W., Wiesenberg, N. and Fetters, C., n.d., Tree ring dating, glacier dynamics, and Tlingit ethnographic histories of Little Ice Age environmental change in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Arctic Anthropology, In revision.


Lawson, D.E., Larson, G., Menzies, J. and Evenson, E.B.,  n.d., Sedimentology of a modern meltout till, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Sedimentology, In review.


Vasil’chuk, Y.K., Lawson, D. E. and Yoshikawa, K., n.d., Stable Isotopes in the closed-system Weather Pingo, Alaska and Pestsovoye Pingo, northwestern Siberia. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, In review.


Stearns, L.A., Hamilton, G.S., van der Veen, C.J., Lawson, D.E., Finnegan, D.F., O’Neel, S., and Scheick, J., 2015. Glaciological and marine geological controls on terminus dynamics of Hubbard Glacier, southeast Alaska. Jour. Geophysical Res., In Press.



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B.A. Lawrence University
M.S. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign