Glacier Dynamics

I am interested in how glaciers behave over a variety of spatial and temporal scales, ranging from localised calving events to regional scale changes in ice velocity and dynamics. I primarily use Remote Sensing data (e.g. satellite imagery, ground-based sensors) to answer a variety of questions relating to glacier dynamics.

How are glaciers and ice sheets responding to climate change?

Glaciers are retreating worldwide as a result of global climate change. There is now a long time series of satellite imagery available to document these changes as well as a range of historical field studies that go back further. I am interested in using this archive to understand how glaciers are responding to climate change and to assess their evolution into the future. Satellite sensors range from imaging systems (optical, SAR) to range based measurements (altimeters) which, when combined, form a powerful mechanism to understand glacier processes. My current PhD project is utilising a novel approach by developing the utility of ground-based radar for glacier mapping, illustrating a new concept in glacier remote sensing studies.

What are the controls on glacier dynamics and how are they changing?

The process of ice movement is complex and is influenced by a multitude of factors. Disentangling these factors is difficult and so far studies have analysed elements of a complete glacier system, but fail to provide a complete picture of glacier dynamics. I am interested in using an holistic approach to untangle this complicated issue through a variety of data sources. For example, I have used a number of remote sensing measurements (satellite imagery, ice-penetrating radar and laser/radar altimetry) to assess the evolution of the Trinity-Wykeham Glacier system (see here).

How do glaciers interact with the ocean and vice versa?

Glaciers that terminate in water loss mass through the process of iceberg calving in order to maintain equilibrium i.e. accumulation matches ablation. However, this process is accelerating and leading to widespread glacier retreat as a result, causing dynamic instability that drives and is driven by glacier dynamics. I am interested in understanding the process of glacier calving through observations. My PhD will use ground-based radar to understand the mechanisms of glacier calving through high resolution elevation changes and surface changes. Few studies are able to achieve the resolution required to understand fracture propagation, the processes leading to calving and the subsequent impacts on the glacier post-calving. Using these high spatio-temporal measurements (see here) we will understand these processes in greater detail.