Using satellite imagery to investigate surface & sub-surface hydrology in Antarctica

Project Description

Lakes beneath glaciers and ice streams were first identified in Antarctica in the 1970’s. Since then, 681 subglacial lakes have been identified in Antarctica, 20% of which change in depth as water floods in and out of them, causing uplift and subsidence at the ice surface. 85 new subglacial lakes have been identified in Antarctica by detecting patterns of this surface elevation change. However, more work is required to rule out that the surface movement is due to other interactions, such as lakes forming on the surface of the ice, rather than below it.
In this project, you’ll work with optical imagery from NASA’s Landsat satellites to assess whether any of these proposed new “subglacial” lakes are in fact due to surface features visible in satellite imagery. You’ll learn how to find, browse and download satellite images over a region of interest from large online databases. You will also gain experience with QGIS, learning how to load these images into software for geospatial analysis, and do some independent interpretation to evaluate whether patterns of surface hydrology could cause ice surface elevation change, for each new subglacial lake in the dataset. You will have the opportunity to attend weekly Satellite Ice Dynamics group meetings, led by Professor Anna Hogg, where PhD students share progress and questions; these meeting provide a chance for you to experience the dynamics of a glaciology research group, and to ask questions of the group if you wish. There is additional opportunity for you to gain skills and knowledge on reading and publishing scientific journal articles, by attending our monthly Glaciology Journal Club.
No prior knowledge of glaciology or satellite data is necessary; this project is ideal for someone looking for experience in both.

Supervisor & Contact

Sally Wilson,

How to Apply

  1. Complete the online REP application form, one for each project of interest, including a copy of your CV.
  2. Complete the EDI form (only one is needed, you do not need to submit more than one if you apply for multiple projects).  Although this is optional, if places are over-subscribed, preference will be given to under-represented groups.