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Photograph of a glacier

Glaciers and glacial processes

We are a group of researchers passionate about icy landscapes past and present.

Our expertise include glacier mass balance studies (Braithwaite), satellite remote sensing and modelling of ice sheets and glaciers (Edwards) and cosmogenic dating and reconstruction of past glaciation in the Mediterranean, Alaska, Indian Himalaya and the British Isles (Dortch and Hughes).

Who we are

Current research projects

  • Timing of glaciation on the Isle of Arran. Jason Dortch and Phil Hughes
  • Glacial lake outburst floods in the Bolivian Andes.  Laura Edwards, Jason Dortch and Simon Cook (MMU)
  • NOW polynya and neighbouring Arctic glacier interactions. Laura Edwards
  • UMRI Greenland project: Past, present and future glaciation extents in Greenland and their implications for SLR and carbon budgets.  PIs Laura Edwards and Jason Dortch

Cryosphere Research at Manchester (CRAM)

CRAM is a relatively new Manchester-based multidisciplinary, cross-faculty and cross-university research group started by Dr Laura Edwards in September 2013.

The group currently comprises 33 academic and research staff and four PhD students from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Salford. 

Our expertise spans areas of cryospheric research including:

  • ice dynamics
  • remote sensing
  • numerical modelling
  • geomorphology and palaeoglaciology
  • marine geophysics
  • ecology
  • Arctic atmospheric composition monitoring
  • carbon cycling.

Meet the CRAM team

Laura Edwards, CRAM founder/chair

Laura’s research focuses mainly on contemporary changes in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets but she is also involved in research on ice caps in Iceland and Bolivia. Laura’s work involves satellite remote sensing (SAR interferometry and altimetry) and UAV work, ice modelling, and fieldwork in Greenland, Iceland, Bolivia and the Canadian Arctic.

Emma Chown, CRAM research assistant

Emma is the CRAM RA funded by the University of Manchester Research Institute. Emma studied for a BSc in Geography at the University of Sheffield and attained a First Class honours degree. She then obtained a distinction in an MSc in Geographical Information Science at the University of Manchester before starting her work for CRAM.

David Abrahams

Kathryn Adamson

Kathryn’s research is focused on Quaternary meltwater systems and ice cap dynamics, at field sites in the Mediterranean and the Arctic. She uses a range of techniques including geomorphology, sedimentology, micromorphology, Uranium-series and surface exposure dating.

Grant Allen

Grant’s research interests include methane and other greenhouse gas emissions in the Arctic and UK. In 2011 he joined the Methane in the Arctic – Measurements and Modelling (MAMM) project as co-I and aircraft work package manager to investigate potential source strengths of Arctic methane and other greenhouse gases.

Richard Bardgett 

Richard’s research is broadly concerned with understanding the role of interactions between plant and soil communities in regulating the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems, and their response to global change. This work is done in a range of ecosystems, including glacial forelands, alpine grasslands, and arctic ecosystems. 

Mike Bennett  

Roger Braithwaite 

Roger’s long-term work is focussed on glacier mass balance. Recent work includes (1) an appreciation of the pioneering glacier-climate research of Herfried Hoinkes (1916-1976); (2) verification of the Kurowski (1891) method to estimate the balanced budget ELA of a glacier; (3) evaluation of recent changes in glacier mass balance. 

Simon Brocklehurst

Simon’s research in geomorphology concerns landscape evolution on timescales up to the duration of the Quaternary, to investigate how mountain ranges respond to climate change (glaciation) and active tectonics. The techniques he uses include field and remote mapping, digital topographic analysis, numerical modelling and Quaternary dating. 

David Collins  

Simon Cook 

Simon is a geoscientist with interests in glaciology and alpine geomorphology. He has particular interests in glacial erosion and sediment transfer, the generation of large-scale glacial landforms, glacial and post-glacial landscape evolution, glacial lake outburst floods, and the geomicrobiology of basal ice. 

Cathy Delaney 

Cathy’s research is focused on paleoglaciological reconstruction using sedimentology and geomorphology, focusing on meltwater routing and fluxes.  She uses Lidar to identify low-amplitude landforms (e.g. crevasse squeeze ridges) within deglacial landsystems; and investigating the use of varved glaciolacustrine sediments in reconstructing deglacial dynamics. 

Richard Dixon 

Visiting professor at the University of Manchester (Basin Studies and Petroleum Geoscience Group) - Geologist Exploration Assurance at BP 

Jason Dortch 

Jason has undertaken several studies using terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide (TCN) methods to understand the nature, timing, and climatic correlation of past glaciation.  He also employs catchment-wide erosion rates to elucidate how erosional processes shape high-mountain landscapes.

David Elliott 

David is a microbiologist interested in glacier basal ice, biofilms, and cell-mineral interactions. He is working with Simon Cook, Robin Sen, and Mario Toubes at MMU, investigating the roles of microbes in glaciers.

Geoff Evatt 

Geoff is interested in the mathematical aspects of glaciology. He has particular interest in Sub-Glacial Floods, Debris Cover Glaciers and Antarctic Meteorites, although he is always keen to expand! 

Jonathan Fairman  

Martin Gallagher  

Nico Gray  

Matthias Heil  

Phil Hughes 

Phil has extensive experience investigating the glacial history of Mediterranean mountains. He is also interested in the Quaternary glacial history of the British Isles especially Wales and neighbouring areas, and theoretical advances in glacier-climate reconstruction, geomorphology, and stratigraphy in Quaternary Science. 

Mads Huuse 

Mads is interested in the glaciogenic processes and the record of formerly glaciated areas ranging from the Palaeozoic to the late Pleistocene. His main research tool is reflection seismic data which allow whole margin- and basin-scale architectures and sediment budgets to be resolved whilst also imaging details of iceberg and ice stream scour, tunnel valleys and glacial tectonics. 

Neil Mitchell 

Neil is a submarine geomorphologist who is interested in seabed features produced by erosion by ice or deposits left by ice.  These studies, in collaboration with now finished PhD students and researchers in the BAS and University College Cork, have involved work with multibeam sonar and other geophysical data. 

Carl Percival  

Jonathan Redfern  

Clare Robinson 

Clare is primarily a fungal and soil scientist. Recent work has focused on characterizing the structure and function of fungal communities using molecular techniques and on carbon cycling in polar, particularly High Arctic and Antarctic, soils in response to environmental change. 

David Schultz 

David’s interests in cryospheric research include Arctic climate change, polar lows, the physical processes involved in snowfall production, snowstorms over the English Channel and Irish Sea, the effect of glaciers on the terrain, and coupled modelling.  

Robin Sen  

Graham Smith  

Robert Sparkes 

Robert is a Post-Doctoral researcher working to understand and quantify the transfer of organic matter from terrestrial to marine systems. He studied organic carbon transport and deposition processes in Taiwan, Spain and Italy before working in the Arctic to investigate the effects of climate change on Siberian permafrost.  

Wilfred Theakstone 

Wilfred’s research interests include long-term changes of the seasonal snow cover around the Arctic Circle in Norway including extremes in the number of days with snowfall, the maximum snow depth and the duration of the period of continuous snow cover.  Changes are examined in relation to variations of atmospheric circulation systems and other climatic elements. 

Bart van Dongen 

Bart is particularly interested in improving our understanding of the fate of the terrestrial carbon currently liberated from the Russian Arctic tundra/taiga areas, and transported to Arctic shelf regions by the Russian Arctic rivers and through coastal including the effects of climate warming on the remobilization and degradation on the Arctic shelf. 

Jamie Woodward 

Jamie is interested in how fluvial systems respond to and record glaciation over Quaternary timescales with a focus on the mountains of the Mediterranean. He is also interested in the history of Ice Age research. 

Rachel Lamb, PhD student 

Rachel is a student in the School of Earth Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, UoM, researching the onset of glaciation and changing paleo environments of the Early Quaternary (2.58 Ma onwards) in the central North Sea basin through the use of continuous basin-wide 3D seismic data. 

Marc Matterson, PhD student 

Marc is a student at the University of Salford under the supervision of Prof. David Collins. 

Andrew Newton, PhD student 

Andrew is a student using stratigraphical techniques to image and reconstruct glacigenic landforms and sediments from 3D and 2D seismic reflection data for the mid-Norwegian shelf, its conjugate margin off East Greenland, and also Baffin Bay off West Greenland. The project will provide a better understanding of shelf edge glaciations and their dynamics. 

Mario Toubes, PhD student 

Mario is researching the geomicrobiology of basal ice facies at Svínafellsjökull, Iceland. This research has comprised the identification of the microbiota of the ice in contact with the glacier bedrock, as well as the chemical and geological features of the ice and the debris in it.  

Past, present and future glaciation extents in Greenland and their implications for sea level rise and carbon budgets

CRAM workshop - 20-21 May 2015, Windermere, UK

The team pictured at the CRAM workshop in Windemere in May 2015
The team pictured at the CRAM workshop in Windemere in May 2015

The CRAM workshop was held at the Waterford Hotel in the Lake District, UK, and brought together CRAM members with expert external collaborators to discuss research proposals on Greenland.