Ice sheets and glaciers are an integral part of the global climate system that are sensitive to climate change and are known to influence global sea levels. Currently, there is concern regarding the future stability of the cryosphere in a warming world and if ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, global sea levels will potentially rise by over 90m. Given that most of the world’s population lives within several kilometres of the coast, it is critical that we develop a better understanding of how ice sheets and glaciers are responding to climatic warming so that governments can develop mitigation strategies for future generations. Currently, glaciers in the Arctic are showing increasing signs of instability due to Arctic amplification of the climate system, making it a key region for monitoring changes.

Future projections of glacier change in the Arctic rely on observations of recent glacier change and an understanding of the processes that are driving these changes.  To date, such observations have been undertaken in a piecemeal fashion, with most research focussed on particular regions and with observations over variable time periods. Furthermore, there is a large imbalance across the Arctic, with most studies focussing on the Greenland Ice Sheet and Canadian Arctic Archipelago and with less research for example on Svalbard, and only a handful of studies in the Russian High Arctic. This means that our understanding of past changes is incomplete and that there are large uncertainties for some regions when attempting to predict future change.

To understand what is happening we need better monitoring tools that can be applied Pan Arctic and using new satellite remote sensing datasets such as the Copernicus Earth observation (EO) programme provides an unprecedented opportunity to develop new methods for mapping changes to glacial systems in the Arctic.

This interdisciplinary MRes project involving the Geography and Environmental Sciences Research Institute and Intelligent Systems Research Centre will build on the expertise developed in both research centres to focus on change detection of Arctic glaciers using remote sensing data and novel machine learning techniques to build a better understanding of the impacts of climate change by quantifying glacial changes using novel image analysis techniques.

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Experience of presentation of research findings


This is a self-funded MRes opportunity.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Profile picture of Carin Cornwall

I would highly recommend Ulster University as you get so much support.  Coleraine is a beautiful town and the people are so friendly. It was a really positive experience.

Carin Cornwall - PhD Environmental Sciences

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