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Modelling changes in debris-covered glaciers across the world (EE/DRFGEO7P/61933)

Department of Geography & Environmental Sciences

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Dr F Pellicciotti No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Spatial evolution of supraglacial debris cover on mountain glaciers is a largely unmonitored phenomenon that has a direct effect on glacier melt. Debris-cover alter surface energy fluxes relative to bare ice and can have a significant impact on total glacier melt (Reid and Brock, 2010). During the last decades, mapping supraglacial debris cover and quantifying its effect on glacier melt has been identified as an important component of monitoring and modeling mass balances of mountain glaciers (Pellicciotti et al., 204). To resolve glacier volume change through time in response to climatic forcing, measured or simulated debris-covered area should also evolve with time (Jouvet et al., 2011). Recent work has demonstrated that remote sensing has great potential for mapping debris extent and thickness but has also revealed contrasting signals of change in debris in different regions (Herreid et al., in press).

This PhD will develop a model of debris cover evolution that can be applied to mountain glaciers across the world. This will incorporate debris inputs, transport pathways and the influence of mass balance on spatial patterns and thickness of supraglacial debris. The project will involve 3 stages: i) Field data collection in Alaska and possibly Himalaya; 2) Reconstruction of debris cover changes in the same mountain ranges, using multitemporal satellite images following Herreid et al. (in press). 3) Using field and remote-sensing datasets to build on the theoretical work of Anderson (2000) and Kirkbride and Deline (2013) and integrate debris cover changes into an existing continuous glacier mass balance model (Ragettli et al., 2013a,b; Ragettli et al. 2015a,b). The main output will be the first glacier mass balance model to include the feedbacks associated with changing supraglacial debris cover in a realistic manner. It will involve training in remote sensing and numerical modelling and exciting field work opportunities.

Enquiries regarding this studentship should be made to: Dr. Francesca Pellicciotti, [Email Address Removed]; [Email Address Removed] (Please use both my email addresses)

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.

Funding Notes

The full-time studentship provides full support for tuition fees, and an annual tax-free stipend at RCUK rates (for 2015/16 this is £14,057 p.a.)


F. Pellicciotti, C. Stephan, E. Miles, S. Herreid, W. Immerzeel and T. Bolch. 2015. Mass changes of the debris-covered glaciers in Langtang Himal 1974-2000 revealed by Hexagon and SRTM data, Journal of Glaciology (impact factor: 3.213), 61 (225), doi: 10.3189/2015JoG13J237.

Ragettli, S., W. Immerzeel and F. Pellicciotti. 2015 Contrasting response to a warming climate of glacierised catchments in the Andes of Chile and Nepalese Himalaya, under revision in Nature Climate Change (impact factor: 15.295)

Ragettli, S., F. Pellicciotti, W. Immerzeel, E. Miles, L. Petersen, M. Heynen, J. Shea, D. Stumm, S. Joshi, A. Shrestha. 2015a. Unraveling the hydrology of a Himalayan watershed through systematic integration of high resolution in-situ ground data and remote sensing with an advanced simulation model, in press in Advances in Water Resources (impact factor: 2.78/3.534)

Immerzeel, W., F. Pellicciotti and M. Bierkens. 2013. Rising river flows throughout the twenty-first century in two Himalayan glacierized watersheds. Nature Geoscience (impact factor: 11.668), 6, p. 742–745, doi:10.1038/ngeo1896.

Reid, T., M. Carenzo, F. Pellicciotti and B. Brock. 2012. Including debris cover effects in a distributed model of glacier ablation, Journal of Geophysical Research (impact factor: 3.44), 117 (D18105), doi:10.1029/2012JD017795

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