The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Arminel Lovell

Project title: Explaining the varying response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change

Supervisors: Dr. Rachel Carr (Newcastle University), Prof. Chris Stokes (Durham University), Dr. Ann Rowan (Sheffield University)

Despite overall trends in the central Himalayas and Karakoram, there are large variations in the response of individual glaciers to regional climate change, which is not properly understood. This is a major limitation to our understanding, as many field studies are limited to a single glacier, or at most a few glaciers, making it very difficult to identify key controls at broader spatial scales.

This project aims to unravel the important controls on glacier change in the Annapurna (Nepal) and Karakoram (Pakistan) mountains at a range of spatial scales by integrating field observations and remote sensing. As well as investigating controls associated with climate change and glacier setting, the project will assess the impact of surface rock debris on glacier mass balance. The distribution and thickness of surface debris is a possible cause of the high variability in ice loss between neighbouring glaciers, as thin layers of debris can increase melt rates by darkening the ice, whereas thick debris insulates the underlying ice and dramatically reduces melting.

Preliminary research questions:

  • How does multi-decadal behaviour vary between individual glaciers, within catchments and between study regions?
  • What are the primary non-climatic controls on the response of individual glaciers to climate change in the central Himalayas and Karakoram (eg debris cover and aspect)?
  • How has debris cover and its impact on glacier behaviour evolved during the study period?

This PhD is part of the NERC-funded IAPETUS Doctoral Training Partnership.


  • GEO2226 Glacial Environments
  • GEO2106 Earth Surface Processes
  • GEO3136 Applied Geomorphology
  • GEO3128 Polar Environments


2014-2015: MSc by Research "The drivers of inter-annual outlet glacier terminus change in Victoria Land, Oates Land and George V Land, East Antarctica", Durham University.

2010-2014: BSc (International) Physical Geography, University of Leeds.


Lovell, A.M., Stokes, C.R. and Jamieson, S.S.R. (2015) Drivers of inter-annual outlet glacier terminus change in Victoria Land, Oates Land and George V Land, East Antarctica: International Glaciological Society-British Branch Conference, Durham (Poster).