Fiamma Straneo’s research focuses on the climate of the polar regions including how changes in the polar regions impact, and are impacted by, those occurring at lower latitudes. Much of her recent work has focused on understanding the causes behind the recent ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet, whose magnitude has quadrupled in just two decades. These changes were not predicted by climate models raising serious concerns for our ability to predict future sea level rise – perhaps one of the most dramatic consequences of climate change on global societies.
To understand ongoing changes in Greenland, Straneo has pioneered the collection of oceanic, atmospheric and glaciological data at the margins of Greenland’s glaciers and in the subpolar North Atlantic, in general. She has led over 15 field expeditions to the polar regions which have employed a wide range of platforms including research vessels, local vessels, helicopters, snowmobiles and autonomous underwater and surface vehicles. Her research has shown that warm Gulf Stream waters reach the margins of Greenland’s glaciers and drive melting – highlighting a new and important wiring of our climate system. Straneo is also committed to advancing scientific understanding of the polar regions by fostering interaction amongst the different disciplines involved. She is chair of the Greenland Ice Sheet/Ocean Science Network (GRISO), chair of the Land-ice Team of SEARCH (Studies of Environmental Arctic Change), and a member of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Science Team. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets including the New York Times, NPR, the Guardian and others. In 2013 she was appointed a Fellow of the Leopold Leadership Program – which seeks to bridge the gap between environmental scientists, the public and decision makers. In 2016 she received the Sverdrup Award Lecture by the American Geophysical Union.
(Updated February 2021)