Sarah Boon

It was a field course in her third year of undergraduate studies in geography that sparked Sarah Boon’s love of glaciers. “Being in the outdoors, seeing these glaciated landscapes and knowing the glaciers and glacier meltwater are working on the landscape…and it’s all related to climate. There’s some really interesting stuff going on here.” After a decade of university study, Sarah works in the geography department of the University of Victoria. She still explains her fieldwork to friends and family as “camping and doing research on the side.”

In the summer, Sarah can be found living in some of the most remote locations of the Arctic and northern B.C. There, she spends up to four months camping on glaciers, taking meteorological, hydrological, and glacial measurements. “Glaciers are barometers of climate…[they] are a record of both the past and the current climate in many different ways.” One of the most interesting parts of her job is “reading” glaciers, whether it’s by studying ice core samples or the moraines (large quantities of rock) that glaciers deposit.

According to Sarah, these are indicators of how our climate works. However, a glaciologist’s future is often not so easy to read. Sarah says the biggest drawback of the industry is the lack of jobs. The field of glaciology is very specific, and jobs are often limited to the federal government or universities. “You can’t just go out there and say “Hi, I’m a glaciologist, can I give you my résumé?’” But the limits of the industry don’t dissuade Sarah. “I’m not just a glaciologist…I’ve learned enough skills by going this path that I could do something else that doesn’t necessarily have to be in glaciology.” But Sarah is pleased she took the chance and became a glaciologist. What many people see as large chunks of ice are “inspiring” to her—it’s why she continues to enjoy her work.