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QUADRAT DTP: Source-to-sink dynamics and palaeo-environment reconstruction from a dynamically evolving glacial foreland

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 22, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The pathways of glacial meltwater, from surface ablation through to proglacial discharge, are a key component in understanding the role of hydrology and its influence on glacier dynamics. The trajectory and volume of this meltwater can have both long- and short-term impacts on ice velocity, which in turn play an important role in glacier mass balance regimes. This project will investigate the Breidameryokull (‘Breida”) glacier and its foreland in Iceland. This is a glacier that is currently experiencing rapid ice margin retreat that is well-captured in satellite records. This provides an excellent opportunity for documenting how subglacial meltwater systems transition into proglacial systems and what processes dominate during this evolution. In this project the student will be exposed to a suite of geological and geophysical methods to understand how the glacier has evolved in the past and what relevance this might have to understanding ongoing and future environmental changes. Sedimentary cores collected from a proglacial lake at Breida will be utilised in unison with the mapping of landform records that will be integrated with repeated ground-penetrating radar surveys that will be calibrated against sedimentological records. Combining these methods and considering the source-to-sink dynamics of the glacial system will provide the student with a holistic understanding of environmental changes in the study area, with the potential to upscale this understanding to other ice masses currently experiencing increases in surface meltwater production, such as analogous outlet glaciers in Greenland. This record will allow a comparison between historical and contemporary changes. These changes can be considered together to refine our understanding of different glaciological and geomorphological processes that evolve during ice margin retreat as well as the impact of an adjacent tidally-influenced water body. Such observations are crucial for helping to calibrate and test numerical Earth-system models that seek to project the implications of future environmental change in glacierised settings brought about by rising global air and ocean temperatures.
The project will provide training opportunities in sediment analysis, geophysics and remote sensing applied to an accessible location. Interest in glacial processes with regard to climate change has never been greater, such that this work will have high research impact applicable to the study location and beyond.


Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Master’s level.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences
• State name of the lead supervisor as ‘Name of Proposed Supervisor’ on application
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• Select the ‘Visit Website’ to apply now

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit View Website for more information.

The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 30.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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