Dr. Alia Khan


Environmental Sciences

Assistant Professor

(360) 650-4008


AH456, MS 9181

Office Hours:

Tuesdays 1:30 - 3:30

I apply environmental chemistry in the cryosphere – the frozen water domain – to document global change of glacier and snow melt in mountainous and polar regions. My research explores the impact of aerosol deposition to the surface of snow and ice, and the resulting impacts on spectral albedo, melt and water quality.  I completed my PhD in August 2016 in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado – Boulder, while working at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, an interdisciplinary research institute focused on documenting environmental change in the polar regions. I then worked as a Postdoc at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO with a primary focus on water and snow chemistry in High Mountain Asia as part of a USAID funded project. I have studied snow packs, lakes and reservoirs in Colorado, and glaciers, snow packs, and lakes in the Arctic, Antarctic, and the Himalayan, Andes and Rocky Mountains.  Along with maintaining polar research, I look forward to delving into local and regional studies in the Pacific Northwest.  

Research Interests

Biogeochemistry; hydrochemistry; black carbon and light absorbing aerosols; snow/ice albedo; spectral geophysics; snow and glacial hydrology



Khan A.L., Klein, A., Katich, J., Xian, P. “Local emissions and regional wildfires influence refractory black carbon observations near Palmer Station, Antarctica”, Frontiers in Earth Science – Atmosphere Section


Bracegirdle, Thomas J., Colleoni, Florence, Abram, Nerilie J., Bertler, Nancy A.N., Dixon, Daniel A., England, Mark, Favier, Vincent, Fogwill, Chris J., Fyfe, John C., Goodwin, Ian, Goose, Hugues, Hobbs, Will, Jones, Julie M., Keller, Elizabeth D., Khan, Alia L.,Phipps, Steven J., Raphael, Marilyn N., Russell, Joellen, Sime, Louise, Thomas, Elizabeth R., van den Broeke, Michiel R., Wainer, Ilana. (2019) Back to the Future: Using long-term observational and paleo-proxy reconstructions to improve model projections of Antarctic climateGeosciences, 9. 10.3390/geosciences9060255


Khan A.L., McMeeking, G., Schwarz, J.P, Xian, P., Welch, K., Lyons, B., McKnight, D. “Refractory black carbon measured in snow and air in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica and potential impacts of foehn winds”, Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, doi.org/10.1002/2017JD027696

Khan, A.L. “U.S. and China Assess Ecosystem Effects of a Fading Cryosphere”, EOS, 99, doi.org/10.1029/2018EO091875 

Khan A.L., Bracegirdle, T., Russell, J. “Can We Crack the Climate Code of the Southern Polar Region?”, EOS,99, doi.org/10.1029/2018EO100467

Armstrong, R.L., Rittger, K., Brodzik, M.J., Racoviteanu, A., Barrett, A.P., Singh Khalsa, S.J., Raup, B., Hill, A., Khan, A.L., Wilson, A., Kayastha, R.B., Fetterer, F., Armstrong, B. Reg Environ Change (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1429-0

Diaz, M. A., Adams, B. J.,  Welch, K. A.,  Welch, S. A.,  Opiyo, S. O.,  Khan, A. L., McKnight, D., Cary, C., Lyons, B. Aeolian material transport and its role in landscape connectivity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123, 3323-3337. https://doi.org/10.1029/2017JF004589


Khan, A. L., S. Wagner, R. Jaffe, P. Xian, M. Williams, R. Armstrong, and D. McKnight. 2017. Dissolved black carbon in the global cryosphere: Concentrations and chemical signatures. Geophysical Research Letters44(12): 6,226-6,234. doi:10.1002/2017GL073485.

Khan, A. L., H. Dierssen, J. P. Schwarz, C. Schmitt, A. Chlus, M. Hermanson, T. H. Painter, and D. M. McKnight. 2017. Impacts of coal dust from an active mine on the spectral reflectance of Arctic surface snow in Svalbard, Norway. Journal of Geophysical Research—Atmospheres122(3): 1,767-1,778. doi:10.1002/2016JD025757.

Stibal, M., J. E. Box, K. A. Cameron, P. L. Langen, M. L. Yallop, R. H. Mottram, A. L. Khan, N. P. Molotch, N. A. M. Chrismas, F. C. Quaglia, D. Remias, C. J. P. Paul Smeets, M. R. van den Broeke, J. C. Ryan, A. Hubbard, M. Tranter, D. van As, and A. P. Ahlstrøm. 2017. Algae drive enhanced darkening of bare ice on the Greenland ice sheet. Geophysical Research Letters.doi:10.1002/2017GL075958.

Gutt, J., E. Isla, A. N. Bertler, G. E. Bodeker, T. J. Bracegirdle, R. D. Cavanagh, J. C. Comiso, P. Convey, V. Cummings, R. De Conto, D. De Master, G. di Prisco, F. d'Ovidio, H. J. Griffiths, A. L. Khan, J. López-Martínez, A. E. Murray, U. N. Nielsen, S. Ott, A. Post, Y. Ropert-Coudert, T. Saucède, R. Scherer, S. Schiaparelli, I. R. Schloss, C. R. Smith, J. Stefels, C. Stevens, J. M. Strugnell, S. Trimborn, C. Verde, E. Verleyen, D. H. Wall, N. G. Wilson, and J. C. Xavier. 2017. Cross-disciplinarity in the advance of Antarctic ecosystem research. Marine Genomicsdoi:10.1016/j.margen.2017.09.006.


Khan, A. L., R. Jaffé, Y. Ding, and D. M. McKnight. 2016. Dissolved black carbon in Antarctic lakes: chemical signatures of past and present sources. Geophysical Research Letters43(11): 5,750-5,757. doi:10.1002/2016GL068609.


Mayewski, P. A., T. Bracegirdle, I. Goodwin, D. Schneider, N. A. N. Bertler, S. Birkel, A. Carleton, M. H. England, J.-H. Kang, A. L. Khan, J. Russell, J. Turner, and I. Velicogna. 2015. Potential for Southern Hemisphere climate surprises. Journal of Quaternary Science30(5): 391-395. doi:10.1002/jqs.2794.


Khan, A. L.2012. Creative adaptation: Bangladesh’s resilience to flooding and droughts in a changing climate. In Climate Change Modeling for Local Adaptation in the Hindu Kush–Himalayan Region, eds. A. Lamadrid, A. and I. Kelman, pp 159-176. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group.


Brown, J., C. Stauber, J. L. Murphy, A. L. Khan, T. Mu, M. Elliott, and M. D. Sobsey. 2011. Ambient-temperature incubation for the field detection of Escherichia coli in drinking water. Journal of Applied Microbiology110(4): 915-923. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04940.x

Related Resources

National Snow and Ice Data Center - Affiliate Research Scientist

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

Alia Lauren Khan (INSTAAR)


PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Colorado - Boulder; MS in Environmental Studies (Biogeoscience), University of Colorado - Boulder; BSPH in Environmental Health Science, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill