Academic Year 2019-2020
Institution University of Aberdeen


School: School of Geosciences

Project: Ice streams: present-to-palaeo

Supervisors: Professor Brice Rea and Dr Andrew Newton

Undergraduate Education: BSc (HONS) Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London

Postgraduate Education: MSc Quaternary Science, Centre for Quaternary Research, Royal Holloway, University of London

Research: Ice streams are large features within an ice sheet typically > 20 km in width, >150 km in length. They are fundamentally an expression of basal instability, topographic low points, weak ice, and basal lubrication.

Ice streams act as the arteries of ice sheets; draining the dominant portion of ice from the interior to the margins at high   velocities at magnitudes of > 1km /yr¹, meaning changes in ice stream dynamics greatly affects the mass balance of the ice sheet. However, ice streams such as the Kamb ice stream in Antarctica, may reduce their velocity and enter a phase of quiescence.

Fieldwork: While polar fieldwork can be difficult, I hope to undertake some within my PhD programme. I plan on applying to the UNIS training courses in Svalbard during my second year and am currently discussing Northern Canada as a fieldwork site with my supervisors, as a means of gathering sedimentary samples and field mapping of landforms.

Methods: My research will draw across a wide range of techniques across geosciences. My research uses primarily remote sensed data to examine the intricate surface structures of contemporary ice steams, and the geomorphological ‘foot print’ left behind on the landscape of extant ice sheets. My research will also draw about the use of a geotechnical model known as ‘FracPaQ’ to examine the mechanics of crevasse propagation, especially focused on the ice stream shear margins. I also hope to undertake sedimentological and microsedimentological analysis of crevasse squeeze ridge features, to examine the basal hydrological conditions and deformation occurring at the end of the ice stream’s life.

The research I am currently undertaking uses satellite imagery and remote sensed data to examine the contemporary ice stream dynamics on the Siple Coast, Antarctica, specifically focusing in on the Bindschadler Ice Stream.