Ignatius Rigor

Bringing fresh insight to the understanding of arctic and global climate

IgnatiusDr. Ignatius Rigor's research aims to improve our understanding of Arctic and global climate using observations to study the interactions among air, sea and ice. His current projects focus on reconstructing Arctic surface air temperatures, and predicting sea ice conditions. Dr. Rigor is a Mathematician at the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL-UW); JISAO funds two of his current research projects.

In 1981 Ignatius was a 16-year-old freshman biology major at UW. He was hired by APL-UW’s Student Assistant Program, which had the goal of working with women and minority students to help them confirm their choice of a science or engineering career. His early duties—which included picking up computer outputs and delivering card decks—weren't particularly glamorous, but by the time he graduated in 1986, Ignatius was providing significant scientific and technical assistance to APL-UW.

Hired by APL-UW in 1987 to do data analysis at the Polar Science Center, he contributed to projects such as the Arctic Nuclear Waste Assessment Program (ANWAP), Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) and the International Arctic Buoy Programme (IABP). He began graduate studies in 1998 under the advisement of JISAO Director John M. (Mike) Wallace. That same year, he became Principal Investigator on the project "Coordination and Data Management of the International Arctic Buoy Programme," taking over from Roger Colony, a founding member of the Arctic Buoy Programme.

In 2003 Ignatius was awarded his first grant through JISAO, "Monitoring the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean." Funded by NOAA's Arctic Research Office, this project seeks to deploy enhanced buoys in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean, which will monitor the mass balance of sea ice, and will complement the observations Ignatius' research postercollected by the IABP. Establishing a record of climate-induced changes in the thickness of the sea ice cover is essential to understanding the role of the sea ice cover in the global climate system, and to the application of the sea ice cover as an early indicator of global climate change.

Ignatius earned his PhD in 2005, with his dissertation entitled, "Interdecadal Variations in Arctic Sea Ice." Professor Mike Wallace states that, "Ignatius has brought fresh insights to the problem of interpreting recent changes in the thickness and extent of Arctic sea ice. He’s presented observational evidence that changes in wintertime wind patterns over the Arctic are responsible for much of the thinning and summer melting that has occurred since 1989."

Currently, Dr. Rigor is Principal Investigator for the JISAO project "Forecasting the Condition of Sea Ice on Weekly to Seasonal Time Scales," and for projects funded by the National Science Foundation. He also has done considerable outreach efforts to schools and even the Boy Scouts—perhaps inspiring the next generation of scientists.