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Faculty Biography

Karen Frey

Karen Frey, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Geography
Graduate School of Geography
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Phone: (508) 793-7209

Curriculum Vitae
Research Website

Professor Karen Frey joined the faculty in the Graduate School of Geography in Fall 2007, after earning a B.A. from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from Cornell University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her research interests involve the combined use of field measurements, satellite remote sensing, and GIS to study large-scale linkages between land, atmosphere, ocean, and ice in polar environments. Her most recent work focuses on (a) the hydrological and biogeochemical impacts of terrestrial permafrost degradation across Siberia and (b) the biological and biogeochemical impacts of sea ice decline in polar shelf environments. Over the past decade, she has conducted field-based research in West and East Siberia, as well as in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. She is currently the major research adviser for six Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. students at Clark University, working on projects in Siberia, Alaska, West Antarctica, the Himalayas, and the Chukchi/Beaufort Seas.

Research Interests

Climate and Global Environmental Change, Polar Climate Change, Cryospheric Responses and Feedbacks to Climate, Land-Ocean Linkages, Hydrology and Biogeochemistry of Rivers/Estuaries, Permafrost Hydrology and Vegetation Dynamics, Sea Ice and Ecosystem Responses to Sea Ice Variability, Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis

Current Research

  • The Potential Impacts of Sea Ice Decline and River Discharge Shifts on Biological Productivity in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas (NASA Cryospheric Sciences Program)
  • An Interdisciplinary Study of Recent Ice Sheet Melt, Sea Ice Decline, and Enhanced Ocean Biological Productivity Along the Amundsen Coast, West Antarctica (NASA Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science Program)
  • Toward a Circumarctic Lakes Observation Network (CALON): Multiscale observations of lacustrine systems (NSF Arctic Observing Network Program)
  • The Polaris Project II: Amplifying the Impact (NSF Arctic Research and Education Program)
  • Pacific-Arctic Carbon Synthesis – Transformations, Fluxes, and Budgets (NSF Arctic Natural Sciences Program)

Courses Offered

GEOG 119: Arctic System Science
GEOG 190/310: Introduction to GIS
GEOG 263/363: The Climate System and Global Environmental Change
GEOG 322: Applications of Radar Remote Sensing
GEOG 378: Controversies in Earth System Science
GEOG 296: Polar Environmental Change Research

Selected Publications

Frey, K. E., K. R. Arrigo & W. J. Williams (2012), Arctic Ocean Primary Productivity and Nutrient Distributions. In Arctic Report Card 2012,
(Featured by NOAA’s ClimateWatch Magazine, December 2012:

Grebmeier, J. M., R. S. Pickart, C. J. Ashjian, L. W. Cooper, K. E. Frey, J. He, M. Itoh, M. Kedra, T. Kikuchi, S. E. Moore, J. Nelson & S. Vagle (2012), Ecosystem Observations in Barrow Canyon: A Focus for the International Distributed Biological Observatory. In Arctic Report Card 2012,

Frey, K. E. & S. E. Moore (2012), [The Arctic] Arctic Ocean Marine Ecosystem Response to Changing Sea Ice and Ocean Conditions. In State of the Climate in 2011, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 93 (7), S146–S147.

Criscitiello, A. S., S. B. Das, M. J. Evans, K. E. Frey, H. Conway, I. Joughin, B. Medley & E. J. Steig (2013), A robust ice sheet record of polynya variability in the Amundsen Sea and Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans 118, doi:10.1029/2012JC008077 (13 pp.).

Tank, S. E., K. E. Frey, R. G. Striegl, P. A. Raymond, R. M. Holmes, J. W. McClelland & B. J. Peterson (2012), Landscape-level controls on dissolved carbon flux from diverse catchments of the circumboreal. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 26, GB0E02, doi:10.1029/2012GB004299 (15 pp.).

Arrigo, K. R., D. K. Perovich, R. S. Pickart, Z. W. Brown, G. L. van Dijken, K. E. Lowry, M. M. Mills, M. A. Palmer, W. M. Balch, F. Bahr, N. R. Bates, C. Benitez-Nelson, B. Bowler, E. Brownlee, J. K. Ehn, K. E. Frey, R. Garley, S. R. Laney, L. Lubelczyk, J. Mathis, A. Matsuoka, B. G. Mitchell, G. W. K. Moore, E. Ortega-Retuerta, S. Pal, C. M. Polashenski, R. A. Reynolds, B. Scheiber, H. M. Sosik, M. Stephens & J. H. Swift (2012), Massive phytoplankton blooms under Arctic sea ice. Science 336, 1408, doi:10.1126/science.1215065.

Cooper, L. W., M. Janout, K. E. Frey, R. Pirtle-Levy, M. Guarinello, J. M. Grebmeier & J. R. Lovvorn (2012), The relationship between sea ice break-up, water mass variation, chlorophyll biomass, and sedimentation in the northern Bering Sea. Deep Sea Research II 65–70, 141–162.

Fu, H., J. Zhao & K. E. Frey (2012), Investigation of polynya dynamics in the northern Bering Sea using greyscale morphology image-processing techniques. International Journal of Remote Sensing 33, 2214–2232, doi:10.1080/01431161.2011.608088.

Trusel, L. D., K. E. Frey & S. B. Das (2012), Antarctic surface and subsurface melting dynamics: Enhanced perspectives from radar scatterometer data. Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface 117, F02023, doi:10.1029/2011JF002126 (15 pp.).