Dr. W. Tad Pfeffer is a glaciologist, geophysicist, and photographer at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a Fellow of the University’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering. He has been a member of the University of Colorado faculty since 1988. With a background in geology, geophysics, and mathematics, Prof. Pfeffer’s research has been focused on cryospheric physics, and particularly on glacier mechanics and dynamics, the dynamics of ocean-ending glaciers, and glacier contributions to sea level. He has done field research for more than 30 years in glacier regions of the world, ranging from Alaska to Antarctica and the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Pfeffer also leads the long-term study of Columbia Glacier, on Alaska’s South Central Coast, one the world’s most extensively studied and most rapidly changing glaciers.
In the past decade, Prof. Pfeffer’s research focus has shifted to include global assessments of glaciers and ice sheets, their response to environmental change, and their contributions to sea level. This has also led to work on the full spectrum of natural hazards and the role of scientific research in decision-making on natural hazards. In these capacities he has served as an advisor to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), and was a Lead Author for Chapter 13 (Sea Level Change) in the IPCC Fifth Assessment/Working Group I. Prof. Pfeffer was also a member of the National Research Council Committee on Sea Level Rise in California, Washington, and Oregon (2010-2012). He is presently the Editor in Chief of the new Oxford Handbooks Online series in Natural Hazard Science.
Office of Economic Growth – Environment and Infrastructure
Bureau for Europe and Eurasia
W. Tad Pfeffer serves as a senior science advisor for water resources and climate change within USAID's E&E Bureau. His primary activity areas involve assessments and projections of future stresses and uncertainties in the water/energy nexus for the Southern Caucasus region. He collaborates with members of USAID's Global Development Lab and the Global Climate Change Initiative as well as drawing on the expertise of colleagues in academia in GRACE assessments of groundwater mass change, remote sensing of glacier volume change, and other remote sensing and modeling tools for large-scale water balance assessments and projection generally.