School of GeoSciences Research

Ice-sheet and glacier melting

Our researchers have spearheaded new methods to collect invaluable satellite data and developed new computer modelling techniques to monitor and predict changes in the Earth's ice-covered regions. Our work is providing key input to climate change decision-making worldwide.

A glacier in the Arctic ocean

Changes taking place in the Arctic, Antarctic and other glaciated regions are drivers for disruptive global changes, especially sea-level rise, with major ramifications for people living not only in polar regions but worldwide. 

We developed new data analytic methods from satellite observations, providing greater insight into terrains. We can also better pinpoint where the ocean is eroding ice under the melting Antarctic ice shelves.

Satellite observations gathered over glaciers worldwide have been critical to substantially improving estimates of the rates of ice loss and quantifying their contribution to sea-level rise.

The vast majority of ice loss is concentrated around the margins of Antarctica and Greenland and high-mountain regions such as the Himalayas, Iceland and South America. Gathering observations that are global and of sufficient spatial and temporal resolution is key to generating robust assessments of glaciers' health. 

For example, our work with organisations such as the European Space Agency has shown that Greenland today is losing ice seven times faster than two decades ago. 

We are among the world-leading scientists who have made crucial contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports.  These are the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide. 


You can find out key information by clicking on each heading below:

Animation - Using satellites to measure glacier ice loss

Video: geos-video-HTML media hopper satellite data glacier ice loss animation
An animation showing how satellite data is measuring glacier ice loss at the Earth's polar regions

We have a tremendous amount of geological evidence on how the ice sheet has grown and reduced in size during the past two million years, and for the past 50 years, we’ve been able to observe these changes from satellites. But what we’ve lacked until the past decade is the necessary level of precision to fully understand how our ice sheets and glaciers are changing or make useful predictions about how these changes will affect sea levels.

Professor Robert Bingham

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