Anna Hughes


  • Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Geography
  • Arthur Lewis Building, Room 1.039

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Contact me to discuss project ideas that focus on palaeoglaciology of ice sheets, ice sheet and glacier reconstruction, geochronology, glacial geomorphology.

Personal profile


I am interested in ice sheets and glaciers, and their interactions with climate.

My focus, as a palaeoglaciologist, is to use traces left behind in the landscape to reconstruct the size, movement and dynamics of former ice masses. I am therefore particularly interested in processes operating at the ice sheet bed and how these sculpt distintive glacial landscapes. My primary research focus of recent years has been uncovering the evolution and chronology of the ice masses of the Eurasian ice sheet complex during the last glaciation. 

I joined the University of Manchester in January 2019, following research postions that took me to Greenland and Norway. Here at Manchester, I lead the Quaternary Environment and Geoarchaeology (QEG) research group and am involved in the Mapping: Computing and Geographic Information Science (MCGIS), and Cryosphere Research At Manchester (CRAM) networks. 


  • Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography - Quaternary Science, University of Manchester (2022-)
  • Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Manchester (2019-22).
  • Researcher, Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen & Bjerknes Centre for Climate Reseach, Norway (2016-18). 
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen & Bjerknes Centre for Climate Reseach, Norway (2012-16). 
  • Research Officer, Glaciology Group, Swansea University, Wales (2008-11).

Research interests

Palaeoglaciology, glacial geomorphology and geology, ice sheets, geochronology, and the application of GIS and remote sensing to investigate these topics.

My research focus is understanding the dynamics and evolution of past ice sheets. To date this has included:

  • Geomorphological mapping of glacial landforms and reconstruction of past ice flow and retreat across Britain and Scandinavia using high-resolution digital elevation models;
  • Identification of glacial trimlines in south-east Greenland using multi-spectral satellite imagery;
  • Terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide exposure dating of glacially streamlined surfaces and erratic boulders to determine ice-retreat rates;
  • Establishing a pan-ice sheet chronology to reconstruct the timing and evolution of the Eurasian ice sheets during the last glacation;
  • Providing useful glacial geological datasets to constrain and validate ice sheet models.

Links to my publications can be found at the following archives: ORCID, Google Scholar


I teach across all levels,  across a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. My teaching specialisms are in past glaciation and climate, glacial geomorphology, and the use and application of digital elevation models. 

Each year I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation projects.  


I welcome enquiries from prospective students interested in pursuing PhD research in any area of my expertise. I am particularly interested in supervising projects that focus on the palaeoglaciology of ice sheets, ice sheet and glacier reconstruction, geochronology, and in glacial geomorphology and processes. If you are enthusiastic about past ice sheets and glaciers, then get in touch by email.

Funding is available for a limited number of PhD studentships each year within the School of Environment, Education and Development at the University of Manchester. To be considered you need to apply before February to start in the following September. You should contact me to discuss project ideas before applying.

Further information on the PhD Programme in Physical Geography and how to apply can be found here.

Supervision and examination experience

My first PhD student graduated in 2014 and I am external supervisor to a PhD student at the University of Sheffield. I have also supervised multiple masters research projects in UK and Norway. I have been external examiner for PhD candidates in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and UK. 

Former PhD students

Laurence Dyke (2014) The late-Quaternary glacial history of southeast Greenland. Swansea University. Link to thesis.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, The last British Ice Sheet: a reconstruction based on glacial landforms, The University of Sheffield


Award Date: 18 Feb 2009

Master of Science, Quaternary Science, Royal Holloway, University of London


Bachelor of Science, Geography, The University of Sheffield


External positions

Associate Professor II, Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen & Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

1 Jan 201931 Dec 2021

Leader, Nordic Union for Quaternary Research (NORDQUA)

2018 → …

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute


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