Three-dimensional analysis of englacial channels in Alpine valley glaciers

Theme: Earth, Atmosphere & Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor:

Charlie Bristow

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, BBK

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Secondary Supervisor:

Bethan Davies

Department of Geography, RHUL

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Additional Supervisor(s):
Dan Le Heron (University of Vienna)

Project Description:

Aim: To understand the three-dimensional architecture of englacial drainage in Alpine valley glaciers.
Globally glaciers are melting contributing to global sea-level rise and driving water shortages as melt water availability declines. Glacial meltwater is a first order control on ice dynamics and the mechanisms of ice flow. Understanding the connections and plumbing between the surface meltwater and the bed and the way in which water percolates through the ice can help understand these important ice dynamics. This project will analysis the englacial communication system between the glacier surface and bed. This project builds upon an established collaboration with the University of Vienna.

1: to image directly the englacial drainage system of Alpine valley glaciers using ground-penetrating radar (GPR).
2: to image directly the supraglacial drainage system, and structural characteristics of these glaciers using drone based photogrammetry and field surveys.
3: to link these surveys to deliver new understandings of the development of englacial drainage systems.
Student will receive training in the field survey of glaciers; drones and photogrammetry including packages such as Agisoft; GPR data collection, processing and interpretation.

Policy Impact of Research:

Glaciers world-wide are receding causing global social and economic challenges such as water shortages, sea-level rise and glacier related hazards.
Englacial drainage systems are a key component of glacial melting but are difficult to access and are poorly understood. This project will use state of the art high frequency GPR, drones and photogrammetry alongside established field survey techniques to gain new insights into this critical system.

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