Search site

School of Geography

Jonathan Carrivick Dr Jonathan Carrivick

Contact details

Room 10.04 Garstang
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK


+44 (0) 113 34 33324

Student hours:
By prior appointment

Work in progress

Modelling rapid landscape change due to outburst floods

(with collaborators in the UK, Iceland and New Zealand)

Outburst floods are a sudden release and advancing kinematic wave of water and sediment, with a peak discharge that is often several orders of magnitude greater than perennial flows. This project provided data on transient phenomena within outburst floods. Specifically it considered controls on outburst flood conveyance (i.e. the hydraulic evolution downstream) and resultant erosion and deposition patterns and characteristics. Particular controls examined were mobility of pre-existing sediment, bed roughness, flow sediment concentration and hydrograph shape. This was examined in a series of flume experiments, in the Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (SEFDL).

The project has been extended to include numerical modelling of flow dynamics, and morphodynamics, using 1D and 2D schemes and research code as well as commercial software.

It intially considered events in New Zealand in 2007 at Mt Ruapehu but has since extended to reconstructing floods in southern Iceland and Nepal.

Explicit quantification of water-sediment processes within outburst floods is essential for several reasons: 1. Outburst floods occur worldwide and are a natural hazard to life, property and infrastructure. 2. Although all outburst floods are a mix of water and sediment, models that fully integrate both are unreported. 3. Whilst sources of outbursts and trigger mechanisms of dam breaches are well known, flow behaviour is not, largely because of the inherent problems of directly measuring such sudden, powerful and rapidly-varying flows. Prediction of flow character is therefore currently impossible. 4. Management solutions to mitigate for outburst floods can only be produced when processes governing flow behaviour are well understood; i.e. parameterised and numerically modelled, and that model is validated against real-world data. These criteria must arise from an integrated and sustainable design approach. 5. Given climate change, there is a very real potential for alterations in air temperature and precipitation patterns to cause an increased frequency of ice- and moraine-dammed lake outbursts and landslide-triggered outbursts, and an increased magnitude of rainfall-induced outburst floods, for example. 6. Many outburst floods are sourced from natural lakes that are a water resource.

This project was funded by a NERC New Investigators Research Grant, and later numerical work by PhD studentships (NERC) to Kate Staines and C. Scott Watson and by PhD and postdoctoral funding to Mingfu Guan.

Publications associated with these projects:

Guan, M., Wright, N. G., Sleigh, P. A., & Carrivick, J. L. (2015). Assessment of hydro-morphodynamic modelling and geomorphological impacts of a sediment-charged jökulhlaup, at Sólheimajökull, Iceland. Journal of Hydrology, 530, 336-349.
Watson, C. S., Carrivick, J., & Quincey, D. (2015). An improved method to represent DEM uncertainty in glacial lake outburst flood propagation using stochastic simulations. Journal of Hydrology.
Quincey, D and Carrivick, JL (2015) Glacier floods. In: Huggel, C, Carey, M, Clague, JJ and Kaab, A, (eds.) The High-Mountain Cryosphere: Environmental Changes and Human Risks. Cambridge University Press , 204 - 226. ISBN 1107065844.
Staines, K.E., and Carrivick, J.L., 2015. Geomorphological impact and morphodynamic effects on flow conveyance of the 1999 jökulhlaup at Sólheimajökull, Iceland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
Staines, K.E., Carrivick, J.L., Tweed, F.S., Evans, A.J., Russell, A.J., Jóhannesson, T., and Roberts, M., 2014. A multi‚Äźdimensional analysis of proglacial landscape change at Sólheimajökull, southern Iceland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
Hobby, M.J., Thomas, R.E., Gascoyne, M., Parsons, D.R., Keevil, G.M., Peakall, J., Carrivick, J.L., 2012. A MEMS Integrated Load Cell (MILC) for measuring pressure, erosion and deposition in dynamic environmental flows. IEEE Sensors 13 (2): 492 – 500.
Carrivick, J.L., Jones, R., and Keevil, G., 2011. Experimental insights towards geomorphic processes within dam break outburst floods. Journal of Hydrology, 408: 153–163
Carrivick, J.L., Manville, V., Graettinger, A., and Cronin, S., 2010. Coupled fluid dynamics-sediment transport modelling of a Crater Lake break-out lahar: Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand. Journal of Hydrology, 388, 399-413.
Carrivick, J.L., 2010. Dam break - outburst flood propagation and transient hydraulics: a geosciences perspective. Journal of Hydrology. 380, 338-355.
Carrivick, J.L., Manville, V., and Cronin, S. 2009. Modelling the March 2007 lahar from Mt Ruapehu. Bulletin of Volcanology, 71 (2). 153-169.


Multi-scale changes in glaciation of the Antarctic Peninsula

( with Prof. Neil Glasser, Dr Bethan Davies, Prof. Mike Hambrey and Prof. John Smellie)

The main aim of this AFI project was to reconstruct the glacial history of the NE Antarctic Peninsula over centennial to millennial timescales. We focused on the timing and style of post Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) retreat along the eastern margin of the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet. During the Last Glacial Maximum, circa 18 cal. ka BP, ice draining from northeast Trinity Peninsula and from an ice dome over James Ross Island coalesced in Prince Gustav Channel. These glaciers formed a palaeo-ice stream flowing northwards and southwards to the shelf edge, resulting in an ice divide off northwest James Ross Island. However, the onshore interaction of Antarctic Peninsula-derived ice and an extended Mount Haddington Ice Cap on James Ross Island remained uncertain, and chronostratigraphy was poor, being largely based on radiocarbon dates, which are influenced by the large marine reservoir effect.

The principal outputs from a seven-week field season on the Ulu Peninsula, James Ross Island, were (1) a detailed geomorphological and sedimentological map of the Ulu Peninsula and (2) samples from granite erratic boulders for cosmogenic nuclide exposure age dating. Provisional mapping showed that the Ulu Peninsula had previously been overwhelmed by ice originating from Trinity Peninsula, depositing granitic erratics across the island. In coastal areas, these erratics are associated with glacial drifts containing numerous smaller Trinity Peninsula erratics. A key question was the age of the glacial incursion that deposited the granite erratics on the Ulu Peninsula. Two possibilities existed; (1) they represented an overriding Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet during the LGM, or (2) the Prince Gustav Ice Stream effectively isolated James Ross Island from Antarctic Peninsula ice, and these erratic boulders date from a pre-LGM glaciation. Cosmogenic nuclide exposure ages on these granite erratics provided important information regarding Antarctic Peninsula ice stream dynamics during the LGM.

This project was funded by an Antarctic Funding Initiative (AFI) NERC Research Grant 

Publications associated with this project:

Hambrey, M. J., Davies, B. J., Glasser, N. F., Holt, T. O., Smellie, J. L., & Carrivick, J. L. (2015). Structure and sedimentology of George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula: implications for ice-sheet dynamics and landform development. Journal of the Geological Society, 2014-134.
Davies, B.J., Golledge, N.R., Glasser, N.F., Carrivick, J.L., Ligtenberg, S.R.M., Barrand, N.E., van den Broeke, M.R., Hambrey, M.J., Smellie, J.L., 2014. Modelled glacier response to centennial temperature and precipitation trends on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature Climate Change. Published online: 14th September 2014.
Glasser, N.F., Davies, B.J., Carrivick, J.L., Rodés, A., Hambrey, M.J., Smellie, J.L., and Domack, E., 2014. Ice-stream initiation, duration and thinning on James Ross Island, northern Antarctic Peninsula. Quaternary Science Reviews, 86, 78–88.
Davies, B.J., Glasser, N.F., Carrivick, J.L., Hambrey, M.J., Smellie, J.L., Nyvlt, D., 2013. Landscape evolution and ice-sheet behaviour in a semi-arid polar environment: James Ross Island, NE Antarctic Peninsula. In Antarctic Palaeoenvironments and Earth Surface Processes, Vol. 381, In. Hambrey, M.J., Barker, P.F., Barrett, P.J., Bowman, V.C., Davies, B.J., Smellie, J.L. & Tranter, M., Geological Society of London, Special Publications, London.
Carrivick, J. L., Davies, B. J., Glasser, N. F., Nyvlt, D., & Hambrey, M. J., 2012. Late-Holocene changes in character and behaviour of land-terminating glaciers on James Ross Island, Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 58(212), 1476-1490.
Davies, B. J., Carrivick, J. L., Glasser, N. F., Hambrey, M. J., and Smellie, J. 2012. Variable glacier response to atmospheric warming, northern Antarctic Peninsula, 1988–2009, The Cryosphere, 6: 1031-1048, doi:10.5194/tc-6-1031-2012
Davies, B.D., Hambrey, M.J., and Smellie, J., Carrivick, J.L., and Glasser, N.F., 2012. Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet evolution during the Cenozoic Era. Quaternary Science Reviews, 31: 30-66.


Arctic glacier mass balance and runoff, arctic peatlands and arctic proglacial systems

(with Dr Dave Rippin, Dr Chris Williams, Dr Graeme Swindles and Dr Mark Smith)

The aims of this project were to i) reconstruct historical and modern mass balance of Kårsavagge, near Abisko, arctic Sweden, and ii) to infer the evolving dynamical and thermal regime of that glacier.

Briefly, this involved the following field measurements; (i) a topographic survey of Kårsaglaciären surface topography (dGPS) and snow-ice interface (snow probing), (ii) GPR measurements of depth of ice to bedrock, (iii) collation of existing mass balance (via Tarfala/Stockholm) and climate records (via Abisko), (iv) Kårsavagge weather parameters (for energy balance modelling validation).

This project ultimately provided the basis for understanding the hydrological implications of regional climate change by quantifying winter snow melt events and spring snowpack retreat. This was achieved by modelling the effects of air temperature and precipitation on glacial mass balance and runoff and river discharge (from glacial and groundwater sources). We were also interested in how cold based glaciers respond to dynamical thinning due to warming air temperatures.

This project was funded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Transnational Access Programme (ATANS), an EU-FP7 INTERACT logistics grant, the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Peter Fleming award, a Royal Society Research Grant and by a NERC PhD studentship to Chris Williams.

Publications from these projects:

Swindles, G.T., Morris, P.J., Mullan, D., Watson, E.J., Turner, T.E., Roland, T., Amesbury, M.J., Kokfelt, U., Schoning, K., Pratte, S., Gallego-Sala, A., Charman, D.J., Sanderson, N., Garneau, M., Carrivick, J.L., Woulds, C., Holden, J., Parry, L. and Galloway, J.M. (2015). The long-term fate of permafrost peatlands under rapid climate warming. Scientific Reports.
Carrivick, J. L., Smith, M. W., & Carrivick, D. M. (2015). Terrestrial laser scanning to deliver high-resolution topography of the upper Tarfala valley, arctic Sweden. GFF, 1-14.
Swindles, G.T., Amesbury, M., Turner, T.E., Carrivick, J.L., Woulds, C., Raby, C., Mullan, D., Roland, T.P., Galloway, J., Parry, L., Kokfelt, U., Garneau, M., Charman, D.J. and Holden, J., 2015. Evaluating the use of testate amoeba for palaeohydrological reconstruction in permafrost peatlands. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
Carrivick, J.L., Brown, L.E., Hannah, D., and Turner, A.G.D., 2012. Numerical modelling of spatio-temporal thermal heterogeneity in river systems. Journal of Hydrology, 414-415: 491-502.
Rippin, D.M., Carrivick, J.L., and Williams, C., 2011. Evidence towards a thermal lag in the response of small Arctic glaciers to climate change. Journal of Glaciology. 57 (205), 895-903


Alpine glacier mass balance changes, meltwater runoff and proglacial dynamics

(with Dr Lee Brown, Martin Geilhausen, Dr Tobias Heckman and Dr Lucy Rushmer)

This project has sought to consider elements and linkages in a climate-glacier-runoff-landsystem cascade. We were examined across scales, from the Southern Alps to the Swiss Alps, to individual glaciers and individual proglacial braidplains. A particular long-running project has existed at the Odenwinkelkees Glacier and its associated braidplain in central Austria because we can use the logistics of a undergraduate field trip there.

We have aimed to understand inter- and intra-catrchment variability in glacier mass balance responses to climate, and consequenctly in runoff and landscape stability and ecological responses. We have examined the potential for linking glacier mass balance and meltwater runoff models with river hydraulic simulations to predict floodplain expansion and contraction cycles, for use in channel stability and ecological assessments.

This project has been supported by a EUFAR airborne LiDAR survey, and was funded by a NERC PhD studentship to Neil Dickson, a Royal Geographical Society Geographical Fieldwork Grant, and by the University of Leeds Academic Development Fund.

Publications associated with these projects:

Brown, L. E., Dickson, N., Carrivick, J., & Fuereder, L. (2015). Alpine river ecosystem response to glacial and anthropogenic flood pulses. Freshwater Science.
Carrivick, J.L., Berry, K., Geilhausen, M., James, M.H.M., Williams, C., Brown, L.E., Rippin, D.M. and Carver, S.J., 2015. Decadal-scale changes of the Ödenwinkelkees, central Austria, suggest increasing control of topography and evolution towards steady state. Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography.
Clitherow, L.R., Carrivick, J.L., & Brown, L.E., 2013. Food web structure in a harsh glacier-fed river. PloS one, 8(4), e60899.
Carrivick, J.L., Geilhausen, M., Warburton, J., Dickson, N.E., Carver, S.J., Evans, A.E., Brown, L.E., 2013. Contemporary geomorphological activity throughout the proglacial area of an alpine catchment. Geomorphology, 188, 83–95
Dickson, N.E, Carrivick, J.L. and Brown, L.E., 2012. Flow regulation alters alpine river thermal regimes. Journal of Hydrology, 464–465: 505–516.
Kellerer-Pirklbauer, A., Lieb, G.K., Avian, M., and Carrivick, J.L, 2012. Climate change and rock fall events in high mountain areas: numerous and extensive rock falls in 2007 at Mittlerer Burgstall, central Austria. Geografiska Annaler 94A: 59–78
Carrivick, J.L., and Chase, S.E. 2011. Spatial and temporal variability in the net mass balance of glaciers in the Southern Alps, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geography and Geophysics, 54 (4), 415-429
Carrivick, J.L., and Rushmer, E.L. 2009. Inter- and Intra-catchment variability in proglacial geomorphology: An example from Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, South Westland, New Zealand. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, 41, no. 1, 18-36.
Carrivick, J. L. and Brewer, T. R. 2004: Improving local estimations and regional trends of glacier equilibrium line altitudes. Geografiska Annaler, 86A (1): 67-79

Proglacial landscape development in Iceland, especially Kverkfjoll

(with Dr Andrew Russell, Newcastle University, UK)

Iceland has numerous glaciated and active volcanos. The proglacial areas receive annual pulses of meltwater and sediment within the Spring melt, glacier ice melt and some permafrost melt. However they are also subjected to the impacts of episodic high-magnitude outburst floods or 'jökulhlaups'. We were studying two key sites.

Eyafjallajökull is located in SW Iceland. It erupted in April 2010 and the resultant ash plume grounded aircraft across Europe. The eruption also caused rapid melting of a large volume of ice and this meltwater and volcanic sediment formed a slurry-type flow known as a 'lahar'. This was the first lahar observed in Iceland. We were looking at the flow character and impacts of this lahar as it routed along the Markarfljot valley to the south coast of Iceland.

This project was supported by a NERC PhD project studentship to Kate Satines and by a NERC Urgency grant.

Kverkfjöll is located on the northern margin of Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland. It is an alpine mountain, is located in an active rifting zone, and is the southern part of the Kverkfjöll Volcanic System (KVS). A large glacier; Kverkjökull descends a vertical kilometre through a gap in the northern caldera rim. The northern part of the KVS is called Kverkfjallarani and comprises a series of parallel hyaloclastite and pillow lava ridges that were erupted into the last ice sheet. Kverkfjallarani is a semi-arid desert. This project aimed to make a series of systematic and objective measurements and observations to characterise the detailed topography, geomorphology and sedimentology of different components of the KVS. This was in order to understand both contemporary and past processes that have shaped the landscape and that have produced distinctive landforms. In particular we were interested in the role of extremely large glacial outburst floods, or jökulhlaups, which have routed from Kverkfjöll, during the Holocene. Smaller jökulhlaups have originated from Kverkfjöll in historic times as well.

This project was supported by a NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility (ARSF) award.

Publications associated with Kverkfjoll:

Cousins, C.R., Crawford, I.A., Carrivick, J.L., Gunn, M., Harris, J., Kee, T.P., Karlsson, M., Carmody, L., Cockell, C., Herschy, B., Joy K.H., 2013. Glaciovolcanic hydrothermal environments in Iceland and implications for their detection on Mars. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 256, 61-77.
Carrivick, J.L., Tweed, F.S., Carling, P., Alho, P., Marren, P.M., Staines, K., Russell, A.J., Rushmer, E.L., Duller, R., 2013. Discussion of ‘Field evidence and hydraulic modeling of a large Holocene jökulhlaup at Jökulsá á Fjöllum channel, Iceland’ by Douglas Howard, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach and Timothy Beach, 2012. Geomorphology 201, 512–519.
Carrivick, J.L., Russell, A.J., Rushmer, E.L., Tweed, F. S., Marren, P.M., Deeming, H., Lowe, O.J., 2009. Geomorphological evidence towards a deglacial control on volcanism. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 34, 1164–1178.
Carrivick J.L. 2009. Jökulhlaups from Kverkfjöll volcano, Iceland: modelling transient hydraulic phenomena. In. Burr, D.M., Carling, P.A., and Baker, V.R. (eds.). Megaflooding on Earth and Mars. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK, pp. 273-289.
Carrivick, J.L., Pringle, J.K., Russell, A.J., and Cassidy, N.J. 2007. Sedimentary architecture and stratigraphy of outburst flood sedimentation within a bedrock valley system, Hraundalur, Iceland. Journal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics, 12 (1). 127–143.
Carrivick, J.L. 2007. Modelling coupled hydraulics and sediment transport of a high-magnitude flood and associated landscape change. Annals of Glaciology, 45, 143-154.
Carrivick, J.L., 2007. Hydrodynamics and geomorphic work of jökulhlaups (glacial outburst floods) from Kverkfjöll volcano, Iceland. Hydrological Processes. 21: 725-740.
Carrivick, J.L., 2006. 2D modelling of high-magnitude outburst floods; an example from Kverkfjöll, Iceland. Journal of Hydrology. 321: 187-199.
Carrivick, J.L. and Twigg, D. 2005. Jökulhlaup-influenced topography and geomorphology at Kverkfjöll, Iceland. Journal of Maps. 2005: 17-27 ISSN 1744-5647.
Alho, P., Russell, A.J., Carrivick, J.L and Käyhkö, J. 2005. Reconstruction of the largest jökulhlaup within Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, NE Iceland during Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews, 24: 2319-2334.
Carrivick, J.L., Russell, A.J., Tweed, F.S., and Twigg, D., 2004. Palaeohydrology and sedimentology of jökulhlaups from Kverkfjöll, Iceland. Sedimentary Geology. 172: 19-40.
Carrivick, J.L., Russell, A.J., and Tweed, F.S., 2004. Geomorphological evidence for jökulhlaups from Kverkfjöll volcano, Iceland. Geomorphology, 63: 81-102.
Cassidy, N.J., Russell, A.J., Pringle, J.K., and Carrivick, J.L., 2004 GPR-Derived Architecture of Large-Scale Icelandic Jökulhlaup Deposits, North-East Iceland. In. Slob, E., Yarovoy, A., and Rhebergen, J., (Eds). Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar, June 21-24, 2004. DELFT, The Netherlands. 581-584


Proglacial lakes and jökulhlaups in west Greenland

(with Dr Andrew Russell, Dr Thomas Ingemann-Nielsen and Dr Jacob Yde)

A large glacial outburst flood or ‘jökulhlaup’ occurred in the Watson River, Kangerlussuaq, west Greenland on August 31st, 2007. The jökulhlaup was generated by the sudden drainage of an ice-dammed lake on the northern flank of the Russell Glacier, which is an outlet of the Greenland ice sheet.

Another jökulhlaup in 2012 occurred after the most intensive melt season ever witnessed on the Greenland ice sheet. Although there are many ice-dammed lakes at the margins of the Greenland ice sheet their drainage is rarely reported and their impacts remain unexamined. 

The 2007 jökulhlaup was the first for 20 years from this location. We therefore hypothesised that this jökulhlaup had high magnitude hydrological, geomorphological and sedimentological impacts. This was partly due to the length of time over which the system has been ‘re-stocked’ with sediment.

Our measurements of the flood impacts, and our reconstruction of the flood parameters and hydraulics, is important because arctic fluvial systems are expected to convey increasing volumes of meltwater runoff if current increases in ice-sheet surface ablation are sustained. Furthermore, proglacial fluvial systems of west Greenland provide a valuable modern analogue for former ice sheet margins, where prehistoric ice-dammed lake outbursts have delivered vast quantities of freshwater and sediment to the oceans, and have possibly contributed to temporary oceanic thermohaline disturbances.

Publications from these west Greenland projects:
Carrivick, J. L., & Quincey, D. J. (2014). Progressive increase in number and volume of ice-marginal lakes on the western margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Global and Planetary Change, 116, 156-163.
Carrivick, J.L., Tweed, F.S., 2013. Proglacial lakes: character, behaviour and geological importance. Quaternary Science Reviews, 78, 34–52.
Carrivick, J.L., Turner, A.G.D., Russell, A.J., Ingeman-Nielsen, T., Yde, J.C., 2013. Outburst flood evolution at Russell Glacier, western Greenland: effects of a bedrock channel cascade with intermediary lakes. Quaternary Science Reviews 67, 39–58.
Russell, A.J., Carrivick, J.L., Ingeman-Nielson, T., Yde, J.C., and Williams, M., 2011. A new cycle of jökulhlaups at Russell Glacier, Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland. Journal of Glaciology, 202, 238-246