Ben Pelto bio photo

Ben Pelto

Glaciology, climate, hydrology, remote sensing and open science.


I am a Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia. My Mitacs postdoc is a joint project with BC Hydro and UBC titled “Cumulative change of climate and land cover change on river flows in mountain catchments”.

My project is focused on understanding the hydrologic impacts of newly formed lakes and vegetation establishment in glacier catchments. As glaciers retreat, the reduction in ice area available for melting causes declines in summer streamflow. In addition, evaporation from newly formed lakes and evapotranspiration from vegetation establishment on deglaciated areas would act to further reduce summer streamflow. My work will combine remotesensing and field observations to inform a hydrologic model to estimate the impacts on streamflow. The research supports BC Hydro’s need to make long-term projections of water availability as part of its long-term planning.

I completed my PhD at the University of Northern British Columbia Department in Geography in November 2020 where I investigating glacier mass change in the Columbia and Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. My project focused on furthering our ability to measure and understand the response of glaciers to climate change. To do so, I collected field-based and remotely-sensed data over a five-year period for glaciers in the upper Columbia River basin. I used these data to quantify glacier change over this period. More importantly, however, I used these data to develop methods to systematically measure mass balance at seasonal to annual time scales for many hundreds of glaciers within a given mountain range.

My passion is studying the nexus between climate and the cryosphere, particularly from a water resources perspective. My work at UNBC was part of the Canadian Columbia River Basin Snow and Glacier Research Network. After our five-year study we produced a technical report on the state of glaciers, snowpack, climate and hydrology relating to the cryosphere in the upper Columbia River Basin. I was also a Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) Fellow duing my PhD.

My masters degree (MSc in Geoscience), from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, focused on paleoceanography in the Bering and Chukchi Seas, studying the flooding of the Bering Strait and connection of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. I studied under the direction of Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette. My master’s thesis focused on cores from the Bering and Chukchi Seas from 27,000 to 2,000 years before present. The Bering Sea half of my thesis was published in Paleoceanography.

Prior to attending UMass Amherst, I graduated from Alfred University in 2012 with a B.A. in Geology and Environmental Studies.


I live in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I can be reached at, or Image missing