There are a number of sub-disciplines or areas of research within Glaciology, often linking into other disciplines such as earth-sciences and physics. Here are a few; click on them to learn more about these exciting areas of study.
Glacial geomorphology involves the study of glacial landforms. It is important to understand how glaciers have behaved in the past in order to predict what will occur in the future. Glacial geomorphologists combine a knowledge of glacial processes with observation of landforms to infer glacier behaviour over the last decades to millions of years. Glaciology evolved as a discipline out of geology after the
Remote sensing is an important technique for observing present day glacier change. Satellite remote sensing has developed rapidly over recent years with the launch of satellites such as ICESat and Cryosat designed specifically for monitoring polar ice. These satellites are complemented by airborne and ground-based remote sensing techniques. Changes in the mass of polar ice sheets can now be measured using satellites such as GRACE to record small variations in the earth's gravity; changes in ice volume are measured by high precisions altimeters and changes in the mass budget of the ice sheets are measured by feature tracking and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR).
Glacier modelling is used to predict the future of ice sheets and glaciers. Developing useful glacier models is vital in predicted the influence of changing climate on global sea-level and water resources. Ice sheet and glacier models vary in scale from high resolution simulations of iceberg calving and ice shelf fracture mechanisms to full approximations of ice sheet response to climate over thousands of years.