Astrogeology Science Center


Ph.D. Atmospheric Science, University of Colorado - Boulder, 2008.


Research: Planetary atmospheres, surface-atmosphere interactions, planetary volatiles.

My research centers mainly on the interaction between planetary surfaces and atmospheres, where I typically use mathematical modeling along with principles of fluid dynamics, geology, physics, chemistry and meteorology. In particular, I study the thermodynamic stability of ice, snow and other volatiles. The ice and snow can either be directly exposed to the atmosphere, or the interaction can be mediated by other material (e.g. sublimation lags, permafrost active layers, etc.). This area of study involves ice and snow microphysics as well as boundary-layer meteorology. Thus far I have studied processes on Earth, Mars and Titan.

Other areas of research I’ve conducted include cratering rates on Callisto and the micrometeorology of caves on Earth and Mars.

Field Experience

NASA Spaceward Bound – Idaho 2011, 2012, 2013.


  • Williams, Kaj E.; Timothy N. Titus; Chris H. Okubo; and Glen E. Cushing. (2017). Martian cave air-movement via Helmholtz resonance. International Journal of Speleology, 46: 439-444. 
  • Williams, K., J.L. Heldmann, C.P. McKay and M.T. Mellon. (2017) The effects of snow and salt on ice table stability in University Valley, Antarctica. Antarctic Science.1-12. doi:10.1017/S0954102017000402
  • Williams, Kaj, Christopher P. McKay and J.L Heldmann. (2015) Modeling the effects of Martian surface frost on ice table depth. Icarus, 261, 58-65.
  • Williams, Kaj and Chris McKay. (2015). Comparing flow-through and static ice cave models for Shoshone Ice Cave. International Journal of Speleology, 44: 1.
  • Heldmann, J. L., W. Pollard, C. P. Mckay, M. M. Marinova, A. Davila, K. E. Williams, D. Lacelle, and D. T. Andersen (2013), The high elevation Dry Valleys in Antarctica as analog sites for subsurface ice on Mars, Planetary and Space Science, 85(C), 53–58, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2013.05.019.
  • J.L. Heldmann, M. Marinova, K.E. Williams, D. Lacelle, C.P. McKay, A. Davila, W. Pollard and D.T. Andersen (2012). Formation and evolution of buried snowpack deposits in Pearse Valley, Antarctica, and implications for Mars. Antarctic Science, 24, pp 299­316 doi:10.1017/S0954102011000903
  • Williams, K. E., McKay, C. P. and Persson, F. (2012) The surface energy balance at the Huygens Landing site and the moist surface conditions on Titan. Planetary and Space Science. Vol 60, nr. 1.
  • Williams, K. E., Pappalardo, R. T. (2011) Variability in the Small Crater Population of Callisto. Icarus 215,1.
  • Williams, K.E., McKay, C. P., Toon, O.B., Head, J. W. (2010) Do Ice Caves Exist on Mars? Icarus 209,2.
  • Williams, K.E., Toon, O. B., Heldmann, J. L., Mellon, M. (2009) Ancient melting of mid-latitude snowpacks on Mars as a water source for gullies, Icarus, 200.
  • Williams, K.E., Toon, O.B., Heldmann, J.L. , McKay C.P. and Mellon, M. (2008) Stability of Mid-Latitude Snowpacks on Mars, Icarus, 196.
  • Williams, K. E., O. B. Toon, and J. Heldmann (2007), Modeling water ice lifetimes at recent Martian gully locations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L09204, doi:10.1029/2007GL029507.
  • Lai, Y.C., Lerner, D, Williams, K and Crebogi, C. (Nov. 1999) Unstable dimension variability in coupled chaotic systems. Physical Review E 60 (5): 5445-5454 : A.