University of Aberdeen
Current Position Interdisciplinary Fellow
Departments School of Geosciences
Quadrat Core Themes Earth Systems, Environmental Management
Methods I Use Geophysics, Imaging, Remote Sensing


Key Research Interests

My research is highly interdisciplinary and covers subject areas in geographical sciences, computer sciences, physics and more! My research can be grouped into three main areas:


  • Glacier Dynamics: Processes influencing ice flow and its changes in a warming climate.
  • Ice-Ocean Interactions: The process of iceberg calving and its contribution to mass loss across the Arctic.
  • Arctic: I environments across the Arctic, particularly in Greenland and Svalbard, with a focus on glaciers and their interactions with the surrounding environment (terrestrial, marine, atmosphere)

Data Science/AI

  • Digital Twins: Developing digital twins for chaotic environment systems such as glaciers (e.g. the Greenland Ice Sheet)
  • Machine learning: Application of Artificial Intelligence (e.g. Machine Learning and Deep Learning) to study environmental systems (e.g. glaciers), often using remote sensing data.
  • Observing Systems: Construction of inter-connected systems to observe environmental processes and document their changes over time.
  • Data Science and Statistics: Development of data processing/analysis techniques for understanding environmental systems, error/uncertainty in environmental data.

Remote Sensing/Earth Observation (EO)

  • Remote Sensing: Development of different sensors and techniques for mapping/monitoring environmental systems, particularly glaciers.
  • Earth Observation: Harnessing large-scale satellite data for regional/global analysis of the Earth system.
  • Database: Cataloguing available data for environmental research, particularly across the cryosphere.

Recent Key Papers

Where to fish in the forest?: Tree characteristics and contiguous seagrass features predict mangrove forest quality for fishes and crustaceans. Wanjiru, C., Nagelkerken, I., Rueckert, S., Harcourt, W., Huxham, M. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2023 – E-pub ahead of print.

Glacier monitoring using real-aperture 94 GHz radar. Harcourt, W. D., Robertson, D. A., Macfarlane, D. G., Rea, B., Spagnolo, M., Benn, D. I., James, M. R. Annals of Glaciology, 2023 – Accepted/In press

Assessment of ice mélange impacts on tidewater glacier dynamics using high resolution ICEYE imagery. Harcourt, W. D., Stearns, L. A., Shahin, M. G., Shankar, S. EGU General Assembly 2023.

Observing iceberg size distributions and implications for calving processes. Shiggins, C., Lea, J., Harcourt, W., Shankar, S., Brough, S., Fahrner, D. EGU General Assembly 2022. ,

Summary Title of Current Studentships

  • QUADRAT DTP student, Jacob Seston: A sustainable future for Arctic marine shipping using Artificial Intelligence