Dr William Harcourt

Dr William Harcourt
Dr William Harcourt
Dr William Harcourt

Interdisciplinary Fellow

Accepting PhDs

Email Address
Office Address
Room 111 St. Mary's Building
Old Aberdeen Campus
Elphinstone Road
AB24 3UF

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School of Geosciences


I am Interdisciplinary Fellow at the University of Aberdeen leading the development of digital twin technology applied to the cryosphere. I graduated from the University of Exeter with a 1st Class Honours degree in Geography before moving to the University of Edinburgh to study for a MSc in Geographical Information Science (GIS). Between 2017 and 2018, I was a Research Assistant at Edinburgh Napier University where I led the first ever national scale analysis of seagrass change in the world. In 2022 I completed my PhD at the University of St Andrews where I developed millimetre-wave radar as a tool for mapping and monitoring glaciers. I then joined the University of Aberdeen in 2022 as a Lecturer before starting the interdisciplinary research fellowship in 2023.

My research interests span across multiple disciplines, including glaciology, remote sensing & Earth Observation, data science, artificial intelligence, Arctic science and many more. I work across several international organisations such as the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS), the Association for Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), and the Scottish Arctic Network (ScAN) amongst others. Through these roles I build new community tools, organise webinars & workshops and develop future science strategies/priorities. I also leave the office to work in the field. I have led and participated in several expeditions to locations such as Svalbard, Iceland, the European Alps, the Scottish Highlands and locally within the UK.


  • 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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