Jonny Kingslake


Assistant Professor

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Columbia University





Henry Ice Rise, 2015

79.98° S, 060.49° W



I grew up in Reading UK, 20 minutes by train from London. I went to Chiltern Edge Secondary School (11-16yrs) and Henley Sixth Form College (17-18yrs).

After two years of working and backpacking I went to The University of York, UK, to study undergraduate physics. My final year project was on the nucleation of freezing in supercooled water, supervised by Dr Richard Keesing. We scattered a laser through droplets of supercooled water to observed freezing as it was initiated by the application of an electric field. 


In 2009 I was awarded a University Scholarship and started a PhD in glaciology in the Department of Geography at Sheffield University, supervised by Dr Felix Ng. I wrote a thesis entitled 'Modeling ice-dammed lake drainage' (pdf). I used mathematical models to study how water flows beneath glacier (see research section).

In 2013 I started as a Glacier Geophysicist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Cambridge, UK. I was employed on a NERC-funded project led by Richard Hindmarsh. We used radar and mathematical models to study present-day and past ice flow in West Antarctica. 

In March this year (2016) my wife and I moved from the UK to start my current position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. I am continuing my research in Glaciology and I will begin teaching in the fall semester. I collaborate with members of the Polar Geophysics Group here at Lamont, and colleagues from Sheffield (e.g. J. Ely, S. Livingstone) and BAS (e.g. A. Brisbourne, C. Martín).


My research is focused on modelling and observing the flow of ice and water in ice sheets and glaciers.

Subglacial hydrology

During my PhD I studied the flow of water beneath glaciers and ice sheets through the development and analysis of mathematical models. I studied how ice-dammed lakes fill and drain beneath glaciers, showing how simple models can be used to predict approximately when lakes will drain, lakes can fill and drain chaotically and lakes affect the flow of glaciers through their impact on subglacial water pressures. I also observed and modelled large-scale surface drainage in East Antarctica. 

The Nye Attractor. This anaglyph, viewable with 3D glasses, shows the chaotic behavior of a model glacial lake. This is a section of an infinitely long curve called an attractor. It shows the evolution of a model glacial lake as it fills and drains, chaotically. The curve's distance along the vertical black axis is the flow out of the lake, its distance from the axis is the lake's depth and its rotation round the axis is time. It is named for the British glaciologist John Nye who devised the model in 1976. This anaglyph is designed to be viewed with 3D glasses. Kingslake, J. Chaotic dynamics of a glaciohydraulic model. J Glac. (61)227.

Glacier geophysics

My work at the British Antarctic Survey was focused on using radar to constrain present and past ice flow in the Ronne Ice Shelf region of West Antarctica. We used a phase-sensitive radar system to measure an ice-dynamical phenomenon called the Raymond Effect. 

I led two field seasons in West Antarctica and found evidence evidence showing that Korff Ice Rise (here) and its neighbour Henry Ice Rise (here) both formed within the last few thousand years.

Antarctic Surface hydrology

Recently I have re-continued research into the surface hydrology of Antarctica. While in Greenland surface water is widely recognized as important for response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to climate warming, in Antarctica large-scale drainage has not been widely studied. Along with Lamont colleagues I am collecting observations of surface drainage across the continent, to assess the spatial distribution of and environmental controls on active surface hydrology.



Kingslake, J., J. Ely, I. Das & R. Bell (in preparation) Widespread surface meltwater drainage in Antarctica.


Kingslake, J., C. Martín, R.J. Arthern, H.F.J. Corr & E.C. King. (2016) Ice-flow reorganization in West

Antarctica 2.5 kyr ago dated using radar-derived englacial flow velocities. Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL070278. (published online)


Matsuoka, K. & 19 others (including J. Kingslake) (2015) Antarctic ice rises and rumples: their properties

and significance for ice-sheet dynamics and evolution. Earth Sci. Rev., 150, 724-745. (pdf)


Evatt, W.E, D. Abrahams, M. Heil, C. Mayer, J. Kingslake, S.L. Mitchell, A.C. Fowler & C.D. Clark (2015)

Glacial melt under a porous debris layer. J. Glaciol., 61(229), 825-836. (pdf)


Kingslake, J. (2015) Chaotic dynamics of a glaciohydraulic model. J. Glaciol., 61(227), 493. (pdf)


Kingslake, J., F. Ng & A. Sole (2015) Modelling channelized surface drainage of supraglacial lakes. J.

Glaciol., 61(225), 185-199. (pdf)


Kingslake, J., R.C.H. Hindmarsh, G. Aðalgeirsdóttir, H. Conway, H.F.J. Corr, F. Gillet-Chaulet, C. Martín, E.C.

King, R. Mulvaney & H.D. Pritchard. (2014) Full-depth englacial vertical ice-sheet velocities measured

using phase-sensitive radar. J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf., 119, 2604–2618. (pdf)


Livingstone, S.J., C.D. Clark, J. Woodward & J. Kingslake (2013) Potential subglacial lake locations and

meltwater drainage pathways beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Cryosphere, 7(6),

1721-1740. (pdf)


Siegert, M., N. Ross, H.F.J. Corr, J. Kingslake & R.C.H. Hindmarsh (2013) Late Holocene ice-flow

reconfiguration in the Weddell Sea sector of West Antarctica. Quat. Sci. Rev., 78, 98-107. (pdf)


Kingslake, J. and F. Ng (2013) Quantifying the predictability of the timing of jökulhlaups from Merzbacher

Lake, Kyrgyzstan. J. Glaciol., 59(217), 805-818. (pdf)


Kingslake, J. and F. Ng (2013) Modelling the coupling of flood discharge with glacier flow during

jökulhlaups. Ann. Glaciol., 54(63), 25-31. (pdf)


Field observations are an essential part of my research. I have assisted on field expeditions to Southern Norway and Svalbard, and led two expeditions in Antarctica. 

During two austral summers I spent two months traveling across the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in a team of two (a mountaineer and I), conducting measurements of the ice flow using GPS and ice-penetrating radar.  

During my first Antarctic field season, my field safety expert,  Iain Rudkin, was also an amazing photographer. See some of Iain's photography from Antarctica and elsewhere here. Even after 12+ hours on a snow mobile, Iain somehow found the energy to get out of the tent and capture whatever nice clouds (not scenery as we were in the flat-white) that were outside. When we got back I put his timelapse photography together with some videos of my own and arranged them over a composition by Steve Massey, written while at the British research base, Rothera:


I have been lucky to be involved with various outreach activities at Sheffield and BAS and this looks like it is set to continue at Lamont, with recent outreach events including the Women in STEM event at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, the Earth-Sun Day at the American Museum of Natural HistoryHudson River Sailing Community Sailing Club and Lycée Français de New York school.

At the American Museum of Natural History we played with 'glacier goo' to show visitors how glaciers flow. I captured the flow of this home-made 'viscous fluid' in time-lapse video using a smart phone:



Recent travels include backpacking around the Philippines and a road trip across the United States. Our route across the US was approximately this. Below are some photos from some recent trips.