Glacier mass change is an important indicator of climate change, though long-term, spatially-distributed observations of glacier mass changes are relatively scarce. Historic DEMs based on topographic maps in regions such as Alaska have large errors, especially in the accumulation areas of glaciers. Modern image processing techniques allow for the reprocessing of historic imagery for detailed observations of past glacier elevations. Using historic air photos and satellite images, you will estimate volume and mass changes of glaciers in a region to be determined in order to better constrain the long-term changes taking place. The work includes: geometric processing of satellite and aerial photos, DEM analysis, and analysis of glacier elevation changes.

Objectives of the Research:

*Estimate long-term elevation, volume, and mass changes for glaciers in the region of interest.

*Produce digital elevation models (DEMs) using historic air photos and satellite images for an area of interest to be determined by the candidate and supervisor.

*Estimate the accuracy of the DEMs produced.

*Optionally, produce a record of glacier area changes for the area using the orthorectified air photos.

Methods to be used:

The candidate will produce DEMs using a photogrammetric software package such as MicMac. Glacier volume changes will be estimated in a variety of ways – see McNabb et al (2019) for examples.

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.
*Experience with C++ and/or python programming
*Experience with version-control tools such as git
*Experience/background in photogrammetry

Skills required of applicant:

*A background in Geosciences or related field.
*Prior experience with programming (any language).
*Interest in glaciology, photogrammetry, remote sensing, or some combination.
*Ability to work independently.


Rupnik, E, Daakir, M, Pierrot Deseilligny, M (2017) “MicMac – a free, open-source solution for photogrammetry.” Open Geospatial Data, Softw. Stand. 2(14).

McNabb, R., Nuth, C., Kääb, A., and Girod, L. (2019) “Sensitivity of glacier volume change estimation to DEM void interpolation,” The Cryosphere, 13, 895–910,

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.


This is a self-funded MRes opportunity.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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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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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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