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Personal profile


BSc. (Reading, 1967), MSc. (Reading, 1968), PhD (McGill, 1978), D.Sc. (Manchester, 2019)


1957-1958. Nether Edge Grammar School, Sheffield, England

1958-1964. King Edward VI School, Retford, England. GCE 'O' level 10 subjects GCE 'A' lever 3 subjects

1964-1967. Physics with Mathematics at University of Reading, UK. B.Sc. awarded July 1967.

1966 & 1967. Summer expeditions to Svartisen ice cap, northern Norway, with University of Reading.

1967-1968. Meteorology at University of Reading, UK. M.Sc. awarded December 1968.

1968-1971. Postgraduate Research McGill University, Montreal, Canada, with field trips to Arctic Canada and Greenland. Ph. D. awarded July 1978.

1971-1979. Research Assistant (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich with field research in northern Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia.

1979-1994. Glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Greenland (GGU), Copenhagen with many fieldtrips to Greenland, mainly southern and western Greenland but with expeditions to North Greenland.

1988-1997. Scientific Editor at the Journal of Glaciology.

1994-1997. Lecturer in Geography, University of Manchester.

1997-2010. Reader in Geography, University of Manchester.

2006-2007. Guest Professor in Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China.

2010- Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Geography, University of Manchester.

2011. Study tour Xinjiang, China, at invitation of UNESCO (China).

2012. Guest lecturer at glaciology summer school, MacCarthy, Alaska (sponsored by University of Alaska, Fairbanks).

2015. Sailed through north-west passage on MS Akademi Ioffe.

2018. Sailed around Spitzbergen on MS Sergei Vavilov.

Research interests

I worked for many years on Greenland problems (1979-94), mainly dealing with the Greenland ice sheet, but I am now increasingly interested by problems of global glaciology. Perhaps I should say "re-interested" as I helped to prepare Fluctuations of Glaciers Volume III (1977) and I edited the proceedings of the Riederalp workshop on World Glacier Inventory (1980).

After arriving at the University of Manchester in 1994, I finished off several papers on Greenland glaciology and then I switched to global glaciology, with an emphasis on glacier-climate modelling. Although I was an early worker in the field of energy balance modelling, I did not consider this sort of model as very suitable for modelling global glaciology and I preferred to use, and extend, the degree-day model that I developed and tested during my Greenland work. For the application of the degree-day model, I have had to look carefully at the characteristics of observed mass balance series that are well documnents in successive volumes of Fluctuations of Glacier. So my early on Volume III has paid. In particular I designed the digital format that is srill used for data reporting in this series.

Social responsibility

Some of my early research in Greenland was directed to the planning of hydro-electric power stations in Greenland, in particular for projects involving significant runoff from melting of snow and ice. In the late 1980s there was groing concern about possible incresed melting of the Greeenland ice sheet under Global Warming, and I refocussed my research onto possible sea-level changes caused by melting ice. In this connection, I contributed to the First and Second Assessment Reports of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1991 and 1996. I also lead three research projects in the area funded by the European Community (1990-1992, 1992-1994 and 1997-2000). From all of this, I claim experience in policy-relevant research, or even socially-relevant research.

During my time at the Geological Survey of Greenland, Copenhagen, policy-relevant research was looked down on, and project reports were often regarded as "quick and dirty", and were filed away unread. My personal policy was to speedily distribute the project reports and then try to publish the underlying science in refereed international journals. Thios paid off when the Greenland Technical Organization (GTO) sent some of our project reports for independant review, and the reviewers responded that our work was well supported by the science. Linking project reports and scientific papers is now normal practice but it was the subject of acrimonious debate in Denmark in the 1980s.

I have recently given public lectures on the geography of glaciers, Greenland, global Warming, melting ice and climate change, and related topics. I once gave a lecture "The Greenland ice sheet - from top to bottom" on a tourist ship in the middle of Baffin Bay (August 2015). I am happy to continue this sort of social engagement by giving lectures on request.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS).

I have been a member of the International Glaciological Society (IGS) for 54 years, 1966-2020, and have frequently participated in their international conferences and branch meetings. I also edited their journal (Journal of Glaciology) for 10 years, as well as editiong two volumes of Annals of Glaciology.

I am a frequent attendee at the Alpine Glaciology Meeting that is held every winter in rotation between Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany.


My teaching at the University of Manchester (1994-2010) included both teaching informed by my own research, usually at Year 3 level, and "service" teaching in statistical methods, transferrable skills, generic skills, climatology and communication skills. My postgraduate module GEOG60762 Generic Research and Personal Skills II was commended for high student satisfaction scores in year 2008/9.

My main pastoral role was as tutor for various joint honour programmes, e.g. the Geology-Geography joint degree, the Computation and Geography joint degree (now closed), and Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies programmes.

Prizes and awards

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) awarded me a certificate "For contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC".

Further information

The University of Manchester appointed me Honorary Senior Research Fellow for the three years 1 October 2010 to 30 September 2013, with renewal every year since. If my health allows, I hope to maintain my research until at least 2026. In this capacity, I will continue and further develop my current research. I started my research when inter-annual variation was the main mode of glacier mass balance change but now I have to take account of the increasingly negative trend in glacier mass balance. I take occasional courses in ArcGis and R to upgrade my spatial and statistical skills but I still rely mainly on SPSS, Excel and FORTRAN for most my data analysis.

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 13 - Climate Action

Areas of expertise

  • GB Physical geography
  • Glaciers
  • climate change
  • Global warming
  • Greenland
  • The arctic
  • North-West Passage
  • statistical methods
  • alpine glaciers


  • glaciers
  • global warming
  • climate change
  • arctic
  • north-west passage


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