William Armstrong

Glaciology, Arctic Earth Systems, Remote Sensing

Assistant Professor, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Appalachian State University


I am an earth scientist who uses remote sensing, numerical modeling, and field studies to answer questions in glaciology and Arctic earth surface processes. I am a passionate educator in the classroom and the field who strives to integrate geospatial data, quantitative thinking, and broadly applicable/employable skills into all my courses.


Find my CV here.

Armstrong above Gilkey Glacier, Juneau Icefield. Photo by Jay Ach.

Professional preparation

University of Colorado at Boulder

PhD in Geological Sciences, May 2017

Advisor: Bob Anderson

Boston College

BS in Environmental Geoscience, May 2010

Advisors: Noah Snyder (BC) and Matt Collins (NOAA)


Appalachian State University

Assistant Professor (Dec 2018 - present)

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Affiliate Faculty (Aug 2019 - present)

Appalachian State University

Visiting Assistant Professor (Aug 2017 - Dec 2018)

University of Colorado at Boulder

Research and Teaching Assistant (2012-2017)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Restoration Center

Research Associate (2011)

Congaree National Park

Guest Scientist (2010)

US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division

Paralegal and Office Assistant (2009)

Record of external funding

American Geophysical Union Centennial Grant

Co-investigator with Lead PI Marta Toran (Appalachian State University)

$5,700 (2019-2020)

Misperceptions about career opportunities are cited as a leading cause for the earth sciences being the least diverse STEM field (Sherman-Morris & McNeal, 2016), with little sign of improvement over the past 40 years (Bernard and Cooperdock, 2018). We will develop educational materials and a costume and green screen-based K12 outreach activity to familiarize young people (with particular focus on underrepresented groups) on viable careers in earth science, many of which feature more lab or computer-based work than field work.

Click here for a profile about this project in Appalachian Today.

National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, Arctic Natural Sciences (Award 1821002)

Lead PI with co-investigator Martin Truffer (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

$700,874 ($288,248 to App State); 2018-2021

The evolution of glacier speed in a warming world affects the timing and amount of glacier ice that is transferred to downstream river systems and the global ocean. Glacier motion is sensitive to meltwater, and recent work suggests that climate warming will slow glacier motion due to more efficient drainage of the glacier bed (e.g., van de Wal, 2015; Tedstone et al., 2015). However, these conclusions are drawn from relatively short time spans and we know that a glacier's sensitivity to water inputs can evolve over decadal timescales (Iken & Truffer, 1997). Our project will build on pioneering work (Raymond, 1971) to investigate how the dynamics of Athabasca Glacier have evolved over the past 50 years as the glacier has thinned and retreated in response to climate change. See my research page for more information.