Michele Koppes is a Professor of Geography, a Canada Research Chair in Landscapes of Climate Change, the Director of the UBC Climate and Cryosphere Lab and a Senior TED Fellow. Her passion is forensic geomorphology: the art of reading and listening to landscapes to decipher their stories and the forces that shaped them.
Her particular focus is on understanding how glaciers and ice sheets respond to climate change, and how changes in ice cover impact landscapes, waterscapes and people. She believes deeply that in order to address the ongoing climate emergency, there is a dire need for more place-based, integrated and embodied understanding of how the lives of the ice, the mountains, the rivers and the people who dwell among them are intertwined.
Some of her current research projects focus on landscape and hazards responses to the loss of ice, the effects of climate change on meltwater resources and on mountain cultures, and the lived experiences of people living with these changes and how they are adapting (or maladapting) to landscape change. She has current field projects in high mountains all over the world, from the Coast Mountains of BC and Alaska to the Patagonian Andes, the Himalayas, the Tien Shan, the margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Antarctica Peninsula, where she and her team combine detailed field observations with local perspectives, oral histories, acoustic mapping and conceptual modeling of ice-ocean-landscape-human interactions.