Chris Derksen

Image Chris Derksen
Research Scientist

Identify interactions between the climate system and the cryosphere using satellite derived datasets and climate models.

Current research and/or projects

Develop new knowledge on the state, variability, and change in the cryosphere, including the role in the climate system

  • Retrieval of information on the cryosphere from airborne and satellite remote sensing
  • Application of satellite datasets to climatological, hydrological, and modelling studies of the cryosphere
  • Field studies of snow cover and sea ice

Professional activities / interests

Lead Author, International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Cryosphere and Oceans in a Changing Climate (Chapter 3: Polar regions)

Principal Investigator, “Terrestrial Snow Mass Mission – Phase 0”. Canadian Space Agency.

Co-investigator, “Climate Change Indicators – Snow”, European Space Agency.

Co-chair, Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP-6) "Land Surface, Snow and Soil Moisture Model Intercomparison Project (LS3MIP)"

Associate Editor, The Cryosphere

Editorial board member, Remote Sensing of Environment

Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing

Education and awards

NASA Group Achievement Award, Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Science Team

Ph.D. Geography, University of Waterloo

University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal Award: Outstanding Academic Performance

Key publications

Bormann, K., R. Brown, C. Derksen, and T. Painter. 2018. Estimating snow cover trends from space. Nature Climate Change (commentary). DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0318-3

Mudryk, L., C. Derksen, S. Howell, F. Laliberté, C. Thackeray, R. Sospedra-Alfonso, V. Vionnet, P. Kushner, and R. Brown. 2018. Canadian snow and sea ice: historical trends and projections. The Cryosphere. 12: 1157-1176,

Pulliainen, J., M. Aurela, T. Laurila, T. Aalto, M. Takala, M. Salminen, M. Kulmala, A. Barr, M. Heimann, A. Lindroth, A. Laaksonen, C. Derksen, A. Mäkelä, T. Markkanen, J. Lemmetyinen, J. Susiluoto, S. Dengel, I. Mammarella, J-P Tuovinen, and T. Vesala. 2017. Early snowmelt significantly enhances boreal springtime carbon uptake. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114(42): 11081–11086, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1707889114.


Derksen, C., X. Xu, R. S. Dunbar, A. Colliander, Y. Kim, J. Kimball, A. Black, E. Euskirchen, A. Langlois, M. Loranty, P. Marsh, K. Rautiainen, A. Roy, A. Royer, and J. Stephens. 2017. Retrieving landscape freeze/thaw state from Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) radar and radiometer measurements. Remote Sensing of Environment. 194: 48–62, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2017.03.007.

Fyfe, J., C. Derksen, L. Mudryk, G. Flato, B. Santer, N. Swart, N. Molotch, X. Zhang, H. Wan, V. Arora, J. Scinocca, and Y. Jiao. 2017. Large near-term projected snowpack loss over the western United States. Nature Communications. 10.1038/NCOMMS14996.

Mudryk, L., P. Kushner, C. Derksen, and C. Thackeray. 2017. Snow cover response to temperature in observational and climate model ensembles. Geophysical Research Letters. 44, doi:10.1002/2016GL071789.

Mudryk, L., C. Derksen, P. Kushner, and R. Brown. 2015. Characterization of Northern Hemisphere snow water equivalent datasets, 1981–2010. Journal of Climate. 28: 8037-8051.

Derksen, C., S. L. Smith; M. Sharp; L. Brown; S. Howell; L. Copland; D. R. Mueller; Y. Gauthier; C. Fletcher; A. Tivy; M. Bernier; J. Bourgeois; R. Brown; C. R. Burn; C. Duguay; P. Kushner; A. Langlois; A. G. Lewkowicz; A. Royer; A. Walker. 2012. Variability and Change in the Canadian Cryosphere. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0470-0.

Research facility

4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto, ON M3H 5T4


Adjunct Faculty, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Geography, Wilfrid Laurier University