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PhD opportunity: Seeing in the dark: evolution of supraglacial lakes on the Greenland ice sheet during polar night
Lancaster, United Kingdom
Lancaster University
  • Graduate Position

PhD opportunity at Lancaster University (UK): Seeing in the dark: evolution of supraglacial lakes on the Greenland ice sheet during polar night 

Potential applicants are advised to contact Amber Leeson on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to make an informal enquiry, otherwise the application portal can be found here: The closing date is Wednesday 11th January 2023.  

About the project: 

The Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are responsible for up to about a third of global sea level rise as a result of increased melting and changes to ice flow. Supraglacial lakes (SGLs) can act to speed up ice flow when they drain and are becoming more abundant on the Greenland ice sheet as a result of increased melting (Leeson et al., 2015). Until recently it was thought that SGL drainage occurs only during the summer months, however we now have compelling evidence for a small number of winter time drainage events (Benedeck et al., 2021) and winter lake drainage is likely to have a larger impact on ice flow than drainage in summer. SGLs are typically studied at scale using optical satellite imagery (e.g. Corr et al., 2021), however optical satellites are unable to image the ice sheet surface in winter due to the darkness of the polar night. Recent advances in machine learning and data science mean that it is now possible to ‘see in the dark’ and map supraglacial lakes during winter using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. This PhD will exploit these advances to perform the first wide scale inventory of supraglacial lakes on Greenland during winter, and will use this inventory to understand the scale of wintertime lake drainage and examine its impact on ice flow.  

About doing a PhD with us: 

The successful candidate will join the glaciology group at Lancaster University, and will be supervised by Amber Leeson, Jenny Maddalena and Mal McMillan. We are based mainly in Lancaster Environment Centre and are affiliated with the Centre for Excellence in Environmental Data Science, Lancaster Data Science Institute and the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. This PhD is being offered with external co-supervision by Noel Gourmelen at the University of Edinburgh and the student will have the opportunity to do an internship at Earthwave in Edinburgh in addition to other training opportunities. 

About the studentship: 

The project is being advertised on a competition-funded basis through the Envision DTP. Successful candidates receive a fully funded 3 year and 6 month studentship, which includes a tax-free stipend paid at the standard? UKRI rate (£17,668 per annum in 2022/23), university fees and research and training costs. The starting date for the PhD will be in October 2023.


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