My research is focused on modelling and observing the flow of ice and water in ice sheets and glaciers.
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.
My work at the British Antarctic Survey 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.
In a paper from 2014, we used phase-sensitive radar and GPS to infer vertical and horizontal ice flow fields throughout the thickness of Korff Ice Rise, West Antarctica. We used these englacial flow fields with radar observations of internal layers within the ice rise to show that the flow of his part of the ice sheet underwent a reorganization around 2-3 kyr ago. Continued research into the history of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is bringing together geophysical and sedimentological data with ice-sheet modelling to understand large-scale evolution of the ice sheet during the last few thousand years.
Throughout last year (2016) I, along with Lamont colleagues have been exploring the supraglacial (i.e. hydrology that goes on on the surface of ice) of Antarctica. This has been exciting because only a few studies have looked at water moving across the surface of Antarctica, but we hypothesize that surface water flow potentially has an important role to play in the future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
In two papers (here and here) recently published Nature, and summarized very nicely in the same issue (here), we showed water has been moving long distances onto and across many Antarctic Ice Shelves for many decades (possibly much longer).
Our observations of widespread supraglacial hydrology in Antarctica are interesting because as the continent warms, water could either move into areas where it can cause ice shelves to collapse, or it could evacuate water into the oceans as shown by one of our papers. The movie below, taken from a helicopter, shows a large water fall at the front of the Nansen Ice Shelf.