Cryosphere-Climate Interaction

Cryosphere-Climate Interaction

Research in this theme explores the complex interactions between elements of the cryosphere (e.g. ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice) and changes in past, present and future climate.

Calving Glaciers: Long-term Validation and Evidence (CALVE)

Our ability to predict the future stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) depends on understanding the long-term relationship between climate and mass loss by calving of tidewater glaciers. This project will combine diverse expertise across glaciology, geomorphology, sedimentology, marine biology, palaeoecology and archaeology to exploit a unique opportunity to reconstruct the advance and retreat of a major Greenlandic glacier over the last 1000 years. Glaciers that reach the sea (tidewater glaciers) break up or “calve” into icebergs. This work will provide the first long-term record of changes in glacier calving rates which is essential for a robust understanding of the sensitivity of calving to climate forcing. The objectives of this research will be:

  1. to reconstruct and independently validate the longest ever record of Greenlandic tidewater glacier calving behaviour and;
  2. to offer exciting new insights linked to the demise of the Norse Western Settlement of Greenland.

The project focuses upon Kangiata Nunâta Sermia (KNS), the largest and most dynamic tidewater glacier in SW Greenland. Fieldwork will be carried out in summer 2015 and 2016.

(Funding: The Leverhulme Trust)

Plateau icefields and climate change

Plateau icefields are found in many currently glacierized regions. Plateaux tend to act as ice source areas during the marginal phases of glaciation making them ideal for deriving proxy climate data, from ice mass geometry, during periods of ice growth and ice retreat. Field research on contemporary plateau icefields has included work on basal ice flow in subglacial cavities, sediment erosion, transport and deposition, basal-ice chemistry, and the reconstruction of ice masses and deglaciation chronologies.