Slawek Tulaczyk focuses his research on ice sheets and glaciers as dynamic features interacting with geologic, hydrologic, and climatic processes on different timescales. Much of his glaciological work is based on data constraining the recent behavior of the West Antarctic ice sheet.
One of the most important current goals of Tulaczyk's research is to test the idea that this marine ice sheet may collapse and contribute significantly to the ongoing global sea level rise. To do that, he investigates the physical controls on ice flow velocity and constructs quantitative models of ice flow dynamics. In addition to elucidating the possible fate of the West Antarctic ice sheet, this work enhances our general understanding of the feedbacks between ice-sheet behavior and climate changes. Large ice sheets respond to climate but they may play the role of pacemakers of climate fluctuations as well. It appears that behavior of ice sheets is modulated to a significant extent by the underlying geology.
Tulaczyk is exploring these geologic controls through sedimentological and geochemical analysis of subglacial sediment samples from West Antarctica. This line of research leads to the general questions regarding the mechanisms of glacial erosion, sediment transport, and deposition. Tulaczyk has used a variety of data sources (remote sensing, borehole experiments, subglacial sediment samples) to constrain the physics of the subglacial environment and its role in controlling ice flow velocities. His interest in deformation of ice and sediments leads to involvement in research related to such practical problems like landsliding and its triggering by climatically extreme conditions.