The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Amy Barrett

Postgraduate Research Student


Masters student researching glacial lakes in the Bhutan-China border region of the Himalaya using remote sensing.


Project Title:

Spatial evolution of supraglacial melt ponds, and its effect on glacier dynamics in the Bhutan – China border region of the Himalaya.


Glacial lakes have a major influence on processes operating within a glacial system. Supraglacial melt ponds significantly enhance glacial melt rates, and represent the initiation of a sequence of stages of proglacial lake development. Consequently, it is vital to understand the fundamental mechanisms at work in the formation and development of glacial lakes as potential thinning and retreat of glaciers as a result may have major implications in terms of the survival of these glaciers in future. Such changes have the capacity to affect millions of people in terms of shrinking water resources and hazards posed to communities and infrastructure by potentially dangerous glacial lakes.


This project is solely based on remotely sensed data, including a series of high resolution multispectral imagery which will be classified (evaluating different methods in the process) in order to automatically identify supraglacial melt ponds. Through subsequent analysis, the following key research questions will be addressed:

1. How do supraglacial melt ponds form, develop and coalesce?
2. Is pond growth constant or variable?
3. Do ponds persist or drain regularly?

Glacier dynamics will be determined using feature tracking techniques to calculate ice velocities, and surface elevation data will be processed to look at glacial thinning. From this, the influence these supraglacial melt ponds have on glacier dynamics and thinning will be investigated.


Demonstrating on the Physical Geography Fieldcourse: Morocco