Dr William Harcourt

Dr William Harcourt
Dr William Harcourt
Dr William Harcourt

Interdisciplinary Fellow

Accepting PhDs



My research aims to understand environmental change through the lens of remote sensing. I develop new remote sensing techniques to probe the mysteries of our landscape, with a major focus on glaciers and ice sheets across the Arctic. I work closely with partners in Svalbard and Greenland, as well as with space agencies and space companies.


  • BSc Geography 
    2016 - University of Exeter 
  • MSc Geographical Information Science (GIS) 
    2017 - University of Edinburgh 
  • PhD Physics 
    2022 - University of St Andrews 

External Memberships

  • European Geosciences Union (EGU)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • Royal Geographical Society (RGS)
  • Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc)

Research Overview

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 area:


  • 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.

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Geography and Environment, Computing Science.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Geography and Environment

Accepting PhDs

Computing Science

Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Glaciology and Cryospheric Systems
  • Machine Learning
  • Remote Sensing

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

  • Greenland Ice Sheet Digital Twin (new for 2023!)
  • Glacier and Ice Sheet Remote Sensing
  • High-resolution Satellite Sensors (Small Satellites & Cubesats)
  • Arctic Tidewater Glacier Dynamics (big focus right now on Ice Mélange and Sea Ice)

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  • 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
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 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
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 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.
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Conference Proceedings
  • Observing iceberg size distributions and implications for calving processes

    Shiggins, C., Lea, J., Harcourt, W., Shankar, S., Brough, S., Fahrner, D.
    Other Contributions: Other Contributions
  • SIOS’s Earth observation and remote sensing activities toward building an efficient regional observing system in Svalbard

    Fjæraa, A. M., Jawak, S. D., Harcourt, W., Aparício, S., Pohjola, V., Andersen, B., Hübner, C., Jennings, I., Matero, I., Godøy, ?., Lihavainen, H.
    Other Contributions: Other Contributions
  • Hansbreen’s calving-driven ice loss derived from seismic data supported by millimetre-wave radar scans and neural networks

    Gajek, W., Harcourt, W., Pearce, D.
    Other Contributions: Other Contributions
  • Millimetre-wave radar observations of glacier calving at Hansbreen (Svalbard) correlated with TLS, time-lapse camera images and seismic records

    Harcourt, W. D., Robertson, D. A., Macfarlane, D. G., Rea, B. R., Spagnolo, M., Benn, D. I., James, M. R., Gajek, W., Pearce, D., How, P.
    Other Contributions: Other Contributions
  • 94 GHz radar mapping of terrestrial snow cover

    Harcourt, W. D., Robertson, D., Macfarlane, D., Rea, B., James, M., Fyffe, B., Diggins, M.
    Other Contributions: Other Contributions

    Gutierrez, I., Gjermundsen, E. F., Harcourt, W. D., Kuschnerus, M., Tonion, F., Zieher, T.
    ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, vol. 2, pp. 719-726
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Observing the cryosphere with millimetre wave radar: The case study of Rhône Glacier

    Harcourt, W. D., Macfarlane, D. G., Robertson, D. A., Rea, B., Spagnolo, M.
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Conference Proceedings
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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Other Contributions