Professor (Ph.D. Cornell, 1997), CSBS Associate Dean and Director of Snow and Ice Lab -- microwave remote sensing of the cryosphere, application of radar interferometry to studies of glaciers and ground displacement



  • Office: OSH 205
  • e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • phone: 801.581.3611

Research Interests:

  • glacier and ice sheet response to climate change
  • remote sensing of snow and ice



My research focuses on using satellite and airborne remote sensing data along with ground-based measurements to derive information about snow and ice conditions at the Earth's surface. More specifically I study glaciers and seasonal snow cover response to climate change. This work is geographically focused on Alaska, Greenland, Antarctica, and the Intermountain West. The data sets I use most frequently are based on microwave remote sensing, especially synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and interferometric SAR (InSAR). In addition, I use InSAR to measure ground displacement due to hydrologic processes.


  • Ph.D., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, 1997
  • M.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Kansas, 1991
  • B.S., Electrical Engineering, Lafayette College, 1984

Courses Taught: (Recent)

  • GEOG 3290/5290 - Water in Utah (3)
  • GEOG 3292/5292 - Snow and Ice (3)
  • GEOG 5110/6110 - Environmental Analysis Through Remote Sensing (3)
  • GEOG 5130/6130 - Advanced Remote Sensing Analysis (3)
  • GEOG 6960 - Microwave Remote Sensing - Graduate seminar (3)
  • GEOG 6960 - The Cryosphere - Graduate seminar (3)


  • Snow and Ice Lab


  • Evan W. Burgess*, Richard R. Forster, Christopher F. Larsen “Flow Velocities of Alaska Glaciers” Nature Communications, 4:2146 doi: 10.1038/ncomms3146. 2013
  • Clément Miège*, Richard R. Forster, Jason E. Box, Evan W. Burgess, Joseph R. McConnell, Daniel R. Pasteris, and Vandy B. Spikes, “Southeast Greenland high accumulation rates derived from firn cores and ground-penetrating radar”, Annals of Glaciology, 54(63), pp. 322-332.  2013
  • Jamie B. Turrin*, Richard R. Forster, Christopher F. Larsen “The propagation of a surge front on Bering Glacier, Alaska, 2001–2011”, Annals of Glaciology 54(63) doi:10.3189/2013AoJ63A341.  2013
  • Asa K. Rennermalm, S. E. Moustafa, J. Mioduszewski, V. W. Chu, R. R. Forster, B. Hagedorn, J. T. Harper, T. L. Mote, D. A. Robinson, C.A. Shuman, L. C. Smith M. Tedesco, “Understanding Greenland ice sheet hydrology using an integrated multi-scale approach” Environmental Research Letters, 8, 015017 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015017.  2013
  • Jason E. Box, Noel Cressie, David H. Bromwich, Ji-Hoon Jung, Michiel van den Broeke, J. H. van Angelen, Richard R. Forster, Clement Miège*, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Bo Vinther, and Joseph R. McConnell: “Greenland ice sheet mass balance reconstruction. Part I: net snow accumulation (1600-2009)”, Journal of Climate, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00373.1.  2012
  • Evan W. Burgess*, Richard R. Forster, Christopher F. Larsen, and M. Braun, “Surge dynamics on Bering Glacier, Alaska, in 2008–2011”, The Cryosphere, 6, 1251–1262, doi:10.5194/tc-6-1251-2012.  2012
  • Asa K. Rennermalm, L. C. Smith, V. W. Chu, J. E. Box, R. R. Forster, and M. van den Broeke, “Evidence of meltwater retention within the Greenland ice sheet”, The Cryosphere., 6, 3369–3396, doi:10.5194/tcd-6-3369-2012.  2012
  • Chu V. W., Smith L. C., Rennermalm A. K., Forster R. R., Box J. E. (2012) Hydrologic Controls on Coastal Suspended Sediment Plumes around the Greenland Ice Sheet. The Cryosphere, 6(1), 1-19, doi:10.5194/tc-6-1-2012.  2012
  • Asa K Rennermalm, Smith, L. C., Chu, V. W., Forster, R. R., Box, J. E., and Hagedorn, B.: “Proglacial river stage, discharge, and temperature datasets from the Akuliarusiarsuup Kuua River northern tributary, Southwest Greenland, 2008–2011”, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 4, 1-12, doi:10.5194/essd-4-1-2012.  2012 
  • Jeffrey A. VanLooy*, Richard R. Forster David Barta, and James Turrin “Spatially variable surface elevation changes and estimated melt water contribution of Continental Glacier in the Wind River Range, Wyoming, USA: 1966 - 2011”, Geocarto International, 1-16, doi:10.1080/10106049.2012.665500.  2012
  • Vena W. Chu, Lawrence C. Smith, Asa K. Rennermalm, Richard R. Forster, and Jason E. Box, “Hydrologic controls on coastal suspended sediment plumes around the Greenland ice sheet”, The Cryosphere, 6, 1–19, doi:10.5194/tc-6-1-2012.  2011
  • Jeffrey A. VanLooy* and Richard R. Forster, “Use of historical elevation data to calculate surface elevation and volume changes of Ha-Iltzuk Icefield, southwest British Columbia, 1970 to mid1980s,” Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 52, No. 59, 109-115.  2011
  • Elias J. Deeb *, Richard R. Forster, and Douglas L. Kane, “Monitoring Snowpack Evolution Using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) on the North Slope of Alaska, USA”, International Journal of Remote Sensing, Vol. 32, No. 14, 3985-4003, doi: 10.1080/01431161003801351.  2011
  • Joo-Yup Han*, Richard R. Forster, D.E. Moser, A.L.J. Ford, J.Ramirez-Hernandez, K.F. Tiampo, “The spatial and temporal subsidence variability of the East Mesa Geothermal Field, CA, USA and its potential impact on the All American Canal System”, International Journal of Remote Sensing, Vol. 32, No. 12, 3427-3449, doi: 10.1080/01431161003749444.  2011
  • Evan W. Burgess*, Richard R. Forster, Jason E. Box, Ellen Mossley-Thompson, David H. Bromwich, Roger C. Bales, Laurence C. Smith, “A Spatially Calibrated Model of Annual Accumulation Rate on the Greenland Ice Sheet (1958-2007)”, Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, 115, F02004, doi:10.1029/2009JF001293.  2010
  • Vena W. Chu, Laurence C. Smith, Asa K. Rennermalm, Richard R. Forster, Jason E. Box, Niels Reeh, “Sediment plume response to surface melting and supraglacial lake drainages on the Greenland ice sheet”, Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 55, No. 194, 1072-1082.  2009
  • Jeffery VanLooy*, and Richard. Forster, “Glacial changes of five southwest British Columbia icefields, Canada, mid-1980s to 1999,” Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 54, No. 186, 469-478.  2008
  • Robert E Davis, Thomas Painter, Don Cline, Richard Armstrong, Terry Haran, Kyle McDonald, Richard. Forster, and Kelly Elder, “NASA Cold Land Experiment (CLPX 2002/03): Spaceborne remote sensing,” Journal of Hydrometeorology, Vol. 9, 1427-1433.  2008
  • Richard R. Forster, “Land subsidence in southwest Utah from 1993 to 1998 measured with Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR)”, Utah Geological Survey Miscellaneous Publication 06-5, 30 pp.  2006
  • Jeffery VanLooy*, Richard. Forster, and Andrew Ford, “Accelerating thinning of Kenai Peninsula glaciers, Alaska”, Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 33, L21307, doi:10.1029/2006GL028060.  2006
  • Hans-Peter Marshall, Gary Koh, and Richard R. Forster, “Estimating alpine snowpack properties using FMCW radar”, Annals of Glaciology., vol. 40. Num. 1, 157-162.  2005
  • Hans-Peter Marshall, Gary Koh, and Richard R. Forster, “Ground-based frequency-modulated continuous wave radar measurements in wet and dry snowpacks, Colorado, USA: an analysis and summary of the 2002-03 NASA CLPX data”, Hydrological Processes. Vol.18, Issue 18, 3609–3622.  2004
  • Lora Koenig* and Richard R. Forster, “Evaluation of Passive Microwave Snow Water Equivalent Algorithms in the depth hoar dominated snowpack of the Kuparuk River Watershed, Alaska, USA”, Remote Sensing of Environment, vol. 93(4) pp 511-527.  2004
  • Richard R. Forster, Kenneth C. Jezek, Lora Koenig*, and Elias Deeb*, “Measurement of glacier geophysical properties from InSAR wrapped phase”, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing vol. 41, No. 11, 2595-2604.  2003
  • Laurence C. Smith, Yongwei Sheng, Richard R. Forster, Konrad Steffen, Karen E. Frey and Douglas E. Alsdorf, “Melting of small Arctic ice caps observed from ERS scatterometer time-series”, Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 30, no. 20, 2034, doi:10.1029/2003 GL017641.  2003
  • Andrew L.J. Ford*, Richard R. Forster, and Ronald Bruhn, “Ice surface velocity patterns on the Seward Glacier, Alaska/Yukon and their implications for regional tectonics in the St. Elias Mountains”, Annals of Glaciology, vol. 36, 21-28.  2003
  • Che-Ming Chen, George F. Hepner and Richard R. Forster, “Fusion of hyperspectral and radar data using the IHS transformation to enhance urban surface features”, ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, vol 58, 19 - 30.  2003
  • Jens Munk, Kenneth C. Jezek, Richard R. Forster and S. Prasad Gogineni, “An accumulation map for the Greenland dry-snow zone derived from spaceborne radar”, Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 108, No. D9, 4280.  2003
  • Richard R. Forster, David G. Long, Kenneth C. Jezek, Sheldon D. Drobot and Mark R. Anderson, “The Onset of Arctic Sea-Ice Snowmelt as Detected with Passive and Active Microwave Remote Sensing”, Annals of Glaciology, vol. 33, 85-93.  2001
  • Laurence C. Smith, Glen A. MacDonald, Karen E. Frey, Andrei Velichko, Konstantine Kremenetski, Olga Borisova and Richard R. Forster, “Sensitivity of Siberian peatlands to past and present climate”, EOS transactions, vol. 81, no. 43, pp. 497, 503-504.  2000
  • Richard R. Forster, Eric Rignot, Bryan L. Isacks and Kenneth Jezek, “Interferometric radar observations of Glaciares Europa and Penguin, Hielo Patagonico Sur, Chile”, Journal of Glaciology, 45(150), 325-337.  1999
  • Richard R. Forster, Kenneth Jezek, John Bolzan, Francois Baumgartner and S. Prasad Gogineni, “Relationships between radar backscatter and accumulation rate on the Greenland Ice Sheet”, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 20(15&16), 3131-3147.  1999
  • Richard R. Forster, Laurence C. Smith and Bryan L. Isacks, “Effects of weather events on X-SAR returns from icefields: A case study of the Hielo Patagonico Sur”, Annals of Glaciology, 24, 367-374.  1997
  • Laurence C. Smith, Richard R. Forster, Bryan L. Isacks and Dorothy K. Hall, “Seasonal climatic forcings on alpine glaciers revealed using orbital synthetic aperture radar”, Journal of Glaciology, 43(137), 480-488.  1997
  • Richard R. Forster, Bryan L. Isacks and Sarah. Das, “Shuttle imaging radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) reveals near-surface properties of the South Patagonian Icefield”, Journal of Geophysical Research, 101(E10) 23,169-23,180.  1996
  • Eric Rignot, Richard R. Forster and Bryan L. Isacks, “Interferometric radar observations of Glaciar San Rafael, Chile”, Journal of Glaciology, 42(141), 279-291.  1996
  • Eric Rignot, Richard R. Forster and Bryan L. Isacks, “Mapping of glacial motion and surface topography of Hielo Patagonico Norte, Chile, using satellite SAR L-band interferometry data”, Annals of Glaciology, 23, 209-216.  1996
  • Laurence C. Smith, Bryan L Isacks, Richard R. Forster, Arthur L. Bloom, and I. Preuss, “Estimation of discharge from braided glacial rivers using ERS-1 SAR: First results”, Water Resources Research, 31(5), 1325-1329.  1995
  • Richard R. Forster, Curtis .H. Davis, Timothy Rand and Richard K. Moore, “Snow Stratification Investigation on an Antarctic Ice Stream with an X-Band Radar System”, Journal of Glaciology, 37(127), 323-325.  1991
  • Paul E. Racette, Richard R. Forster and Richard K. Moore, “Limitation of the Luneburg Lens as a Calibration Target for a Dual-Antenna Radar System”, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 29(1), 179-180.  1990