About Evan

Evan in front of a raised beach
Evan taking a selfie in front of a raised beach deposit in Argentina

Hi, My name is Evan Gowan. I am a geophysicist/geologist/climate scientist (choose a label!) who is predominantly interested in ice sheets and their interaction with the Earth. I originally started in the field of ice sheets because I had an interest in the properties of the Earth at tens of kilometers below the surface. It might seem strange to look at something that happens at the surface of the Earth to probe what happens deep below, but it has a big effect! When you look at something as huge as a continent sized ice sheet (modern existing ice sheets are located on Greenland and Antarctica), their immense mass causes the Earth to slowly deform. The rocks deep within the Earth are hot and behave somewhat like a fluid on the scale of thousands of years, so the impacts of the ice sheet persist thousands of years after they disappear, as is currently the case in Canada and northern Europe. This process is known as glacial isostatic adjustment. The title of my website “Raised Beaches” refers to the fact that you can find ancient beaches well above present day sea level in areas where the land is rising due to this process (as well as rare times when sea level was higher than present)!

Ice sheets represent a very important part of the surface of the Earth. They contain vast stores of fresh water. They increase the Earth’s albedo, reflecting sunlight back into space. Icebergs that break off of them present a hazard to shipping lines (think Titanic). And of course, when ice sheets retreat, as they currently are in Greenland and Western Antarctica, they cause sea level rise. The retreat of past ice sheets also affect us, as ongoing glacial isostatic rebound affects sea level in coastal areas of northern North America and Europe, and has been implicated in unusual interplate earthquakes. These factors motivate my research. Changes in the past can tell us about what is happening in the present! My current research is focusing on improving our understanding of how ice sheets behave, and what they looked like in the past.

In addition, I am a big history and political junkie. Though I will always endeavour to keep my posts about sciences, I will comment on the social impacts of science as well. I firmly believe that sciences should not be kept in an exclusive bubble for the privileged few who pursue this career. The explosion of climate sciences in the news during the past few years really shows how important science communication is, and the necessity to educate as well as research!

As a hobby, I explore the world of obscurities in video games. Check out my website, SNES Central.

The opinions expressed of this website are the my opinions and mine alone, and do not reflect the views of my employer. /end legal rambling

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