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School of Geography

Joshua Chambers Joshua Chambers

Contact details

School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

Surface melting of mountain glaciers: the effect of ice surface properties on melt rates

Project overview

Latent and sensible turbulent fluxes are a fundamental energy exchange in glacial melt models and mass balance calculations, which become more important in cloudy and windy conditions (Fausto et al., 2016). Aerodynamic roughness (z0) is a key aspect in calculating turbulent fluxes, but it remains a primary source of error which varies considerably depending on the surface, time and scale over which it is measured (Munro, 1989; Brock et al., 2006). Several techniques are used to measure z0, including analysis of glacier surface microtopography; recent advances in topographical surveying allow the rapid acquisition of high-resolution elevation data, and have shown the potential to revolutionise the measurement and calculation of z0 (e.g. Smith et al., 2016; Quincey et al., 2017).


This project aims to reduce the uncertainty surrounding z0 by validating and improving the methods used to measure it. The overall goal is to better parameterise spatial and temporal variation in z0, with a view to upscaling the approach so that z0 can be predicted over much larger scales. We also hope to explore the possibility of incorporating distributed z0 values into existing glacial melt models.

Preliminary research questions:

  • How accurately can z0 be measured over different ice surfaces using structure from motion photogrammetry or LiDAR?
  • Can distributed measurements be acquired over larger scales, including glacier-scales (and beyond)?
  • Can our findings be used to predict z0 from aerial/satellite data, and can they be incorporated into existing melt models?


Research Affiliations


  • NERC DTP Studentship


Short Curriculum Vitae

Educational Qualification

  • 2013-2016 BSc Physical Geography, University of Worcester
  • 2016-2017 MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change, University of Sheffield


  • 2015 Quaternary Research Association Annual Discussion Meeting
  • 2017 International Glaciological Society (British Branch)