Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Staff Profile

Professor Andrew Russell

Professor of Physical Geography



I specialise in floods and glacial systems. My research focuses on the impact of floods on fluvial systems in Chile, Peru, Iceland and Greenland. In the UK I examine the immediate impacts of floods resulting from intense rainfall.

I have extensive field experience of examining jökulhlaup impacts on both the northern and southern margins of Vatnajökull ice-cap and carried out fieldwork at Eyjafjallajökull during the 2010 eruption and at Skeiðarárjökull during the 1996 Gjálp eruption under Vatnajökull.

Twitter: @Floodpower


1982-86 University of Aberdeen M.A. Honours Degree Geography 1986.

1986-90 University of Aberdeen, PhD. “The geomorphological and sedimentological effects of jökulhlaups”

Previous Positions

Sept. 1994 - March 2004 Lecturer & Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Keele University

Oct. 1990 - Sept. 1994 Lecturer in Physical Geography, Kingston

PhD supervision themes

I am currently researching in the I welcome PhD or Masters proposals in any of the themes listed below. I'm actively researching in the following areas: Chile, Greenland, Iceland, Peru & UK.  Please feel free to contact me directly if you are interested in researching on any of these topics:

  • Fluvial geomorphology and sedimentology
  • Glacial meltwater processes and products
  • Floods and their geomorphic and sedimentary impacts 
  • Flood hazards
  • Volcano-ice hazards
  • Jökulhlaup (glacial outburst flood) impacts


Research Interests

Flood geomorphology, glacier hydrology, fluvial sedimentology and planetary geomorphology, glacier outburst floods (jökulhlaups), lahars.

My main research focus is on the impact of contemporary and ancient glacier outburst floods (jökulhlaups) within arctic and sub-arctic glacifluvial systems in Greenland, Norway, Iceland, Chile and Alaska. I am currently examining the impact of jökulhlaup (glacier outburst flood) within the recently decoupled proglacial meltwater system of Skeidararjökull, SE Iceland. I have recently been working in Chile on hydro-geomorphological risk reduction (NE/R009481/1) and the geomorphological and sedimentary impacts of: lahars generated by the April 2015 Calbuco eruption, Chile (NE/N007263/1); jökulhlaups resulting from the April 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption (NE/I007628/1), the September 2008 flooding in Northumberland (NERC Grant NE/G011141/1), the November 2009 flooding in Cumbria (NERC Grant NE/H025189/1) and the NERC-funded SINATRA (Susceptibility of catchments to INTense RAinfall and flooding) consortium project.

Current and recently funded research 

1. 2022-23 NERC-funded project (£65K)  'Immediate jökulhlaup (glacier outburst flood) impacts in a recently decoupled proglacial meltwater system, Skeidararjökull, SE Iceland.'  with Dr Louise Callard (Newcastle University) (PI); Dr Seb Pitman (Newcastle University) (Co-I); and Dr Matthew Roberts (Icelandic Meteorological Office) (Project Partner). The overall aim of the project is to improve understanding of the impact of jökulhlaups on landform and sedimentary assemblages within proglacial lakes and assess the impact of these lakes on the glacifluvial and coastal system of Skeidararsandur. SE Iceland.

2. 2017-19  NERC-funded project (£125K) 'Real-time low-cost monitoring for hydro-geomorphological risk reduction in Chile' (NE/R009481/1) together with Dr. Matthew Perks (Newcastle Geography), Dr Alejandro Dussaillant (Universidad de Aysén, Chile) and Dr Claudio Meier (University of Memphis). This project develops improved systems for predicting (a) the timing and magnitude of hydrological hazards and (b) the longer term impacts of sediment release causing flooding in downstream river channels, and will provide (c) training and a 'tool kit' for local authorities to ensure that the monitoring developments in Chile and Peru. 

3. 2016-19 NERC-funded project TENDERLY (Towards END-to End flood forecasting and a tool for ReaL-time catchment susceptibility). TENDERLY builds on the most promising emerging outcomes of the NERC-funded FRANC and SINATRA projects to ensure that this new science will pull through to operational practice. TENDERLY informs and improves flood risk management through the identification of catchments and communities most at risk, catchment management planning, and increasing the spatio-temporal accuracy of precipitation, land-surface and flood inundation predictions as well as flood warning lead times. Outcomes from the project will build on those from the COST 731 action on uncertainty propagation in hydro-meteorological forecast systems and include recommendations to UK and international operational hydrometeorological institutes on the benefits and feasibility of end-to-end flood forecasting.

4. 2015-16 NERC-funded project (£60K) entitled: 'Causes, dynamics and impacts of lahars generated by the April, 2015 Eruption of Calbuco volcano, Chile' together with Dr. Alejandro Dussaillant-Jones, Dr. Claudio Meier (Department of Civil Engineering of the University of  Concepción, Chile) and Dr. Andrés Rivera (CECs, Centro de Estudios Científicos, Valdivia, Chile).  Our scientific goal is to determine the causes, dynamics and impacts of lahars generated during the April 2015 Calbuco eruption. In particular we are interested in assessing the extent to which: (1) the spatial transition of pyroclastic flows into hot lahars is reflected in the immediate geomorphological and sedimentary record; and (2) lahar channel morphology and sedimentology reflect existing depositional models.

5. 2013-17 NERC-funding to collect data during and immediately after UK flash flooding from intense rainfall as part of the £2.7M SINATRA (Susceptibility of catchments to INTense RAinfall and flooding) consortium project, funded by NERC, the Environment Agency and the UK Met Office under the Flooding From Intense Rainfall thematic programme.  SINATRA assembles a multidisciplinary team of world-leading experts from academia (Reading University, Bristol University, Newcastle University, Exeter University, Hull University, King's College London), industry (Halcrow and JBA), and government (UK Met Office (UKMO) and their joint Flood Forecasting Centre (with the Environment Agency), the British Geological Survey (BGS), the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) and the Cabinet Office’s Natural Hazards Partnership.

6. 2010-11 NERC-funded project (£65K) entitled ‘Impacts and dynamics of volcanically-generated jökulhlaups, Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland’ (NE/I007628/1) together with Dr Andy Large & Dr Anne-Sophie Mériaux of the Earth Surface Processes Research group, Newcastle University. This project examines the impacts of large jökulhlaups (glacier outburst floods) on the landscape surrounding Eyjafjallajökull volcano. The project team includes Dr Qiuhua Liang (Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Newcastle University) Dr Stuart Dunning (Northumbria University), Dr Jonathan Carrivick (Leeds University), Dr Matthew Roberts (Icelandic Meteorological Office) Professor Fiona Tweed (Staffordshire University) and Málfríður Ómarsdóttir (University of Iceland).

7. 2009-10  NERC-funded and NERC ARSF supported research project 'Immediate geomorphological impact and fluvial system response to the Cumbria floods November 2009' (NE/H025189/1)(~ £70K FEC). Together with: Andy Large, Jeff Warburton (Durham), Danny Donoghue (Durham) and Stuart Dunning (Northumbria).

8. 2008-09 NERC-funded project 'The September 2008 floods in northeast England: characteristics and immediate impact on river morphology' (NE/G011141/1). Together with Andy Large & Meredith Williams (CEG).

9. 1998-2009  Icelandic Glaciers: outburst floods, glacier surges and sediment transfer: implications for proglacial environments (Earthwatch, NERC & Royal Society supported).

I led this ongoing research project for over a decade. Since 1998 we ran over 45 research teams in a number locations surrounding Vatnajökull and Myrdalsjökull ice-caps. Between July & September 2008 the project involved 18 academic staff & PhD students from five US & four UK institutions. 2008 fieldwork included: a new programme of proglacial lake surveys at Skeiðarárjökull, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) surveys of proglacial river channel change, monitoring of a jökulhlaup from Grænalón ice-dammed lake in July. Ground Penetrating Radar surveys on Skeiðarársandur, vibro-coring of Holocene jökulhlaup slackwater sediments in northeast Iceland and surveying evidence of giant Holocene jökulhlaups on the northern margin of Vatnajökull.

10. 2007-10 Onset of an arctic glacial outburst flood cycle: implications for proglacial fluvial systems. Together with Jonathan Carrivick (Leeds University) and Meredith Williams (CEG). Part of this research is in collaboration with Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen (Arctic Technology Centre, Technical University of Denmark) and Jacob C. Yde (University of Aarhus & University of Bergen)

11. 2007 Airborne LiDAR for characterisation of ice-marginal landscape change and proglacial fluvial response to rapid glacier retreat, Skeiðarárjökull, Iceland (NERC ARSF supported: IPY07/13). Together with Andy Large, Meredith Williams, Helgi Björnsson (University of Iceland), Hreinn Haraldsson (Icelandic Roads Authority), Helgi Jóhannesson (Icelandic Roads Authority), Martin Charlton (National University of Ireland), Basil Gomez (Indiana State University) & John Woodward (Northumbria University).

Research and Leadership Roles

I have served as Head of Geography, Geography Research Coordinator and Member of the School Research Committee.

Postgraduate Supervision

Current research students:

Holly Chubb (PhD) 2019 - Controls on the causes, dynamics and impacts of the catastrophic mass flows (aluviónes), northern Patagonia, Chile. NERC OnePlanet DTP funded.

Ethan Lee (PhD) 2019 - Glacial history of the tropical Andes, Peru.  NERC IAPETUS DTP funded. IAPETUS Supervisors: Dr. Neil Ross; Andrew Henderson, Andy Russell; Derek Fabel (SUERC) and Stewart Jamieson (Durham University).

Martin Jolley (PhD) 2019 - Optical tracking velocimetry for real-time sensing of river flows. EPSRC funded studentship. Supervisors: Matthew Perks; Andy Russell; Nick Everard (Environment Agency), Sue Manson (Environment Agency).

Sigurdís Björg Jónasdóttir (MPhil.) 2018 - 2022 Reconstructing palaeo jökulhlaup magnitude and frequency on the northern flanks of Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland.

Jake-Collins May (PhD) 2017 - 2022 Ice, water and Mars: Investigating glacio-fluvial activity and landforms on the Red Planet. (Lead Supervisor: Rachel Carr)

Devin Harrison (PhD) 2017- 2022 Controls on the Large-Scale Sedimentary Architecture of Icelandic Sandar. NERC IAPETUS DTP funded. IAPETUS Supervisors: Neil Ross; Andy Russell; Stuart Jones (Durham University). External Supervisor: Rob Duller (University of Liverpool). 

Safaa Alzerouni (PhD.) 2013 - 2020. Controls on morphological change within wandering gravel-bed rivers over decadal time scales: the River Coquet, Northumberland, UK.

Former research students:

Holly Chubb (MPhil.) 2018 - 2020. The causes, dynamics and impacts of the December 2017 catastrophic mass flow: Villa Santa Lucia, Chile.

Jake-Collins May (MPhil.) 2016 - 2017. Origins of Glacial, Fluvial and Glaciofluvial Landforms in the Nereidum Montes; Mars (MPhil.) (Lead Supervisor: Rachel Carr)

Rebecca Dell (MPhil.) 2016 - 2017. Interactions between glacier dynamics, ice structure, and climate at Fjallsjökull, south-east Iceland. (Lead Supervisor: Rachel Carr)

Devin Harrison (MPhil.) 2016 - 2017. Sedimentary architecture of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanogenic jökulhlaups: Gígjökull, Iceland.

Safaa Alzerouni (MPhil.) 2011-2013. Geomorphological response of a wandering gravel bed river to a high magnitude flood: River Coquet, Northumberland, UK.

Katherine Bazeley (MPhil.) 2009-2012. Glacier margin recession and jökulhlaup impacts, Blautakvisl, Skeidararsandur, Iceland. (Currently working at the British Antarctic Survey)

Rupert Bainbridge (MPhil.) 2009-2012 The magnitude, frequency and geomorphic impact of historic jökulhlaups in the Djúpá river system, south east Iceland (currently Post Doctoral Research Associate, Physical Geography, Newcastle University).

Kate Staines (PhD.) 2008-2012. Modelling rapid landscape change due to glacial outburst flooding in southern Iceland (based at Leeds University with Dr. Jonathan Carrivick, Dr. Andy Evans & Professor Fiona Tweed).

David Blauvelt (Ph.D) 2006-2013. Implications of large-scale glacier retreat for pro-glacial landscape evolution melt-water routing and sediment flux. (Currently undertakeing  GIS related work in Washington DC.).

Andrew Gregory (Ph.D) 2004-2012. Controls on the formation of topographic basins and trenches within contemporary glacial systems. (Currently Earth Scientist, Haskoning UK Ltd.).

Matthew Burke (Ph.D) 2005-2008. Use of geophysical techniques to examine the role of jökulhlaups and glacier surges on origin of sub- and englacial sedimentary assemblages (based at Northumbria University with Dr. John Woodward). Currently Postdoctoral Researcher within the Department of Geography at Liverpool University working on the NERC-funded BRITICE-CHRONO consortium.

Robert Duller (Ph.D) 2003-2007. Dynamic Controls on the Sedimentary Architecture of Lahar Deposits (based at Keele University with Dr. N.P. Mountney, & Dr. Nigel Cassidy. (Currently Lecturer in Geology Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool).

Mary Chapman (Ph.D) 2001-2005. Icelandic analogues for Martian outburst floods. (Currently Research Geologist, USGS Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona).

Jonathan Carrivick (Ph.D) 2001-2004. Impacts and characteristics of jökulhlaups from Kverkfjöll, Iceland (with Prof. Fiona Tweed, Staffordshire University). (Currently Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Leeds University).

Lucy Rushmer (Ph.D) 2000-2004. The role of hydrograph shape and sediment sorting in controlling jökulhlaup sedimentary successions (with Dr. G.H. Sambrook-Smith, Birmingham University). Currently, Engineer, Jacobs-Babtie, Leeds.

Zoe Robinson (Ph.D) 1999-2001. Groundwater geochemistry and behaviour in an Icelandic sandur. (joint with Prof. Ian Fairchild & Dr. Baruch Spiro) Currently Reader in Physical Geography, Keele University.

Matthew J. Roberts (Ph.D) 1998-2002. Controls on the development of supraglacial outlets during glacial outburst floods (joint with Prof. Fiona Tweed, Staffordshire University) Currently Group Leader: Water and Glaciers, Processing and Research Department, Icelandic Met Office.

Thaiënne van Dijk (Ph.D) 1997-2001. Glacier surges as a control on the development of proglacial, fluvial landforms and deposits. (Currently Lecturer, Department of Water Engineering & Management, University of Twente, Netherlands)

Helen High (nee Fay) (Ph.D) 1997-2001. The role of ice blocks in the creation of distinctive proglacial landscapes during and following glacier outburst floods (jökulhlaups).(Currently working as a Senior Analyst for Maslin Environmental)

Philip Marren (Ph.D) 1996-2000. Magnitude and frequency regimes of proglacial rivers in eastern Scotland during the Late Devensian. (Currently: Lecturer in Physical Geography at University of Chester)

Esteem Indicators

Member of the NERC Peer Review College (2007- 2010) and (2016- ).

PhD Examination: Birmingham University, Manchester University, Turku Finland & UEA.

International invites: GLOF week symposium Santiago, Chile (2010); IAS 2009 Alghero, Sardinia; Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa (2009); GSA Denver (2007); Logan Club Ottawa (2006); University of Göttingen (2005); & Bingampton Symposium NY (2003).

I review papers for 16 earth science journals.

Since March 2010, I have given 8 TV and 13 radio interviews to regional, national and international audiences including BBC News24, BBC Radio 4 PM; BBC Radio 4 You and Yours Eruption Special; BBC World Service and BBC Radio5.


Undergraduate Teaching (2023-24)

  • GEO1020 Introduction to Physical Geography
  • GEO2229 River Catchment Science
  • GEO2127 Doing Physical Geography Research 
  • GEO2137 Key Methods for Physical Geographers
  • GEO2052 Iceland Field Course (Module Leader)
  • GEO3152 Applied Fluvial Geomorphology (Module Leader)