Brent Minchew

Class of 1948 Career Development Professor
Associate Professor of Geophysics

Contact Info:

Office Phone






Alma Pellecer 617.324.1960

Studies glacier and ice sheet evolution, their responses to climate change, and their impact on landform evolution and the carbon cycle.

Research Interests

I study how glaciers and ice sheets respond to climate change. I am most interested in understanding the mechanisms that will govern rates of sea-level rise in the coming decades and centuries. I am drawn to this work in large part because it is important and challenging and allows me to see nature at its most elegant, both fragile and resilient, stately and responsive. My research spans scales from atomic to continental, laboratory to glacial, seconds to centuries, and I use a variety of tools ranging from satelliite radar to mathematial theory. 

I lead an interdisciplinary group of geophysicists, glaciologists, mechanicians, and geodesists who study the interactions between the climate, the cryosphere, and the solid earth using a combination of geodetic observations—primarily interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR)—and physical models. Occasionally, we take short breaks from glacier mechanics to develop remote sensing tools and applications that can be used to help mitigate natural and anthropogenic environmental hazards—like characterizing marine oil spills and monitoring wildfires.

Topics I investigate:

Biographic Sketch

Brent Minchew joined the EAPS faculty in 2018. After serving nearly eight years in the Marine Corps, he studied aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, earning a BS in 2008 and MS in 2010. Minchew went on to complete his a PhD studies in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology in 2016, where he also spent time as a Graduate Research Fellow at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Before arriving at MIT, Minchew was awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, studying at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK.

Key Awards & Honors

  • 2022 • MIT Class of 1948 Career Development Professorship
  • 2019 • MIT Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Professorship
  • 2012 • IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing Editor's Choice Award

Key Publications

  • Minchew and Meyer (2020). Dilation of subglacial sediment governs incipient surge motion in glaciers with deformable beds. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematrical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, 476 (2238). DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2020.0033

  • Riel, Minchew, and Joughin (2021). Observing traveling waves in glaciers with remote sensing: New flexible time-series methods and applications to Sermeq Kujalleq (Jakobshavn Isbrae), Greenland. The Cryosphere, 15 (1). DOI: 10.5194/tc-15-407-2021

  • Millstein, MInchew, and Pegler (2022). Ice viscosity is more sensitive to stress than commonly assumed. Nature Communications Earth and Environment, 3 (57). DOI: 10.1038/s43247-022-00385-x