My name is Mhairi, I’m 25, from the Scottish Highlands, and I’ll be starting my PhD at the University of Aberdeen this October (2022).

Stac Pollaidh in the Scottish Highlands. Photo credit: Mhairi Hallford

My project is titled “Mapping and measuring glacier mass balance: developing a best practice approach for understanding glacier change”. I will investigate the differences between the physically measured equilibrium-line altitudes of glaciers (the region where accumulation is equal to melt/ablation) and end-of-season snowlines mapped from satellite imagery. Then, using these results, I will apply corrections to measurements from satellite imagery. These corrections should be extended to as many regions as possible, including physically inaccessible glaciers and icecaps.

I graduated from the University of Glasgow in June 2019 with a BSc(Hons) in mathematics, focussing mainly on applied maths – my final project concerning continuum mechanics. With a desire to do something more applied, I went on to complete an MSc in geospatial and mapping sciences, graduating from the University of Glasgow again in 2020.

For my final MSc project, I quantified the morphodynamic change of a braided reach of the river Feshie in the Cairngorms between 2018 and 2019. This involved the use of remote imagery to measure topographic changes and the application of error modelling and spatiotemporal analysis. I especially enjoyed my time undertaking this project and ultimately decided that I wanted to continue onto further research and pursue a PhD.

This PhD project largely appealed to me because of the methods and tools shared with my MSc project, but probably more so because of its impact. As climate change continually becomes a more pressing issue, a better understanding of its impacts on glacier mass change will in turn help to inform us in addressing the problems it poses to various water supplies and rising sea levels.

I’m looking forward to starting my PhD and getting to know everyone involved with the QUADRAT DTP!