Dr. William H. Armstrong

Dr Armstrong joined the Department in Fall 2017 after completing his PhD at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr Armstrong is broadly interested in investigating earth surface dynamics, including the behavior of glaciers and rivers, using satellite remote sensing, field study, and numerical modeling. Dr Armstrong's recent work has focused on the process of sliding at the bottom of glaciers, its sensitivity to meltwater production, and how it changes over daily to multi-decadal time scales. Glacier basal motion is an important process to study because it dominates the motion of many glaciers, will influence how glaciers change in a warming world, and is the means by which the shape our spectacular alpine landscapes. Dr Armstrong's research and teaching support the Department's Quantitive Geoscience, Environmental Geology, and Earth System Science tracks.


  • B.S. Boston College
  • Ph.D. University of Colorado at Boulder

Courses Taught

  • GES 1101 - Introduction to Physical Geology (labs)
  • GES 1102 - Introduction to Historical Geology (labs)
  • GES 1104 - Water: Mountains to Sea (labs)
  • GES 2750 - Preparation for Careers in the Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • GES 2752 - Environmental Science Field Methods
  • GES 3140 - Quantifying Environmental Change
  • GES 3530 - Mechanics of Earth Systems
  • GES 4210 - Senior Seminar (Geology Capstone)
  • GES 4705 - Engineering Geology

Website and CV

 Recent Publications

View Dr. Armstrong's profile on Google Scholar. Asterisks (*) indicate student advisees.

  • Rick, B., D. McGrath, S.W. McCoy, and W.H. Armstrong, 2023. Unchanged frequency and decreasing magnitude of outbursts from ice-dammed lakes in Alaska. Nature Communications 14, 6138, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-41794-6
  • Armstrong, W.H., Polashenski, D.*, Truffer, M., Horne, G., Hanson, J.B., Hawley, R.L., Hengst, A.M.*, Vowels, L.*, Menounos, B., and Van Wychen, W. (2022). Declining basal motion dominates the long-term slowing of Athabasca Glacier, Canada. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 127, e2021JF006439, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JF006439
  • Rick, B., McGrath, D.,  Armstrong, W.H., and McCoy, S.W. (2022). Dam type and lake location characterize ice-marginal lake area change in Alaska and NW Canada between 1984 and 2019. The Cryosphere. 16, 297–314, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-16-297-2022
  • Field, H. R.*, Armstrong, W. H., and Huss, M. (2021). Gulf of Alaska ice-marginal lake area change over the Landsat record and potential physical controls, The Cryosphere, 15, 3255–3278, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-3255-2021
  • Anderson, L. S., Armstrong, W. H., Anderson, R. S., and Buri, P (2021). Debris cover and the thinning of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska: in situ measurements, automated ice cliff delineation and distributed melt estimates, The Cryosphere, 15, 265–282, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-265-2021
Title: Assistant Professor: Glaciology (he/him/his)
Department: Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-6739