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Glaciers Ice Sheets & Climate Change - ENV00039I

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. David Rippin
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will provide students with a deep understanding of the vital links between climate and the response of glaciers and ice-sheets. It will equip students with an understanding of key fundamental concepts related to glacier flow and change, and how they modify the landscape. It will also equip students with an in-depth understanding of the crucial task of monitoring and measuring change, and it will enable the development of an ability to critically examine evidence for climatic change in the cryospheric record.

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules:  

Core Skills in physical Geography (Yr 1)


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

  1. To understand how and why glaciers develop, how they move and how this is changing as climate warms.

  2. To understand how glaciers modify the landscape and to develop skills that would enable students to explain the formation of landforms they might encounter in the landscape.

  3. To develop skills in the collection, processing and interpretation of a range of remotely sensed imagery.

  4. To understand the difference between a range of remote sensing satellites, and thus the role of each.

  5. To appreciate advanced topics in glacier hydrology and dynamics and other pressing glaciological challenges.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will develop:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key physical processes that operate in glaciers and ice sheets and how they modify the landscape.

  • An ability to analyse the links between climatic changes and glacier and ice-sheet response.

  • An ability to effectively and fluently present original thoughts and concepts based on the relevant literature.

  • An ability to access relevant scientific information from a variety of different sources and extend the knowledge gained in the lectures through reading, and critical analysis of that material.

  • An ability to comprehensively summarise relevant information and develop a sustained reasoned argument.

  • An ability to access, download, analyse and interpret important remote sensing imagery, and to put this to use in monitoring how glaciers are changing in response to climate.


Task Length % of module mark
Remote sensing investigation
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay on remote sensing in glaciology
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on the remote sensing investigation will be provided as soon as marking is complete.

Indicative reading


Benn D. and D.J. Evans. 2010. Glaciers and Glaciation (2nd edition). Hodder Education, 816pp.

Bennett M.W. and N.F. Glasser. 2009. Glacial Geology: Ice Sheets and Landforms (2nd edition). Wiley-Blackwell, 400pp.

Cuffey, K.M. and W.S.B. Patterson. 2010. The Physics of Glaciers (4th edition). Academic Press, 704pp.


Clarke, G.K.C., A.H. Jarosch, F.S. Anslow, V. Radic and B. Menounos. 2015. Projected deglaciation of western Canada in the in the 21st century. Nature Geoscience, 8, 372–377. DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2407.

Delaney, I. and S. Adhikari. 2020. Increased subglacial sediment discharge in a warming climate: consideration of ice dynamics, glacial erosion and fluvial sediment transport. Geophysical Research Letters, 47,

Hugonnet, R., R. McNabb, E. Berthier, B. Menounos, C. Nuth, L. Girod, D. Farinotti, M. Huss, I. Dussaillant, F. Brun & A. Kääb. 2021. Accelerated global glacier mass loss in the early twenty-first century. Nature, 592, 726-731,

Immerzeel, W.W., P.D.A. Kraaijenbrink, J.M. Shea, A.B. Shrestha, F. Pellicciotti, M.F.P. Bierkens and S.M. de Jong. 2014. High-resolution monitoring of Himalayan glacier dynamics using unmanned aerial vehicles. Remote Sensing of Environment, 150, 93-103.

Slater, T., I.R. Lawrence, I.N. Otosaka, A. Shepherd, N. Gourmelen, L. Jakob, P. Tepes, L. Gilbert and P. Nienow. Review Article: Earth’s ice imbalance. The Cryosphere, 15, 233-246,

Sledz, S, M.W. Ewertowski and J. Piekarczyk. 2021. Applications of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys and Structure from Motion photogrammetry in glacial and periglacial geomorphology. Geomorphology, 378.

Stuart-Smith, R.F., G.H. Roe, S. Li and M.R. Allen. 2021. Increased outburst flood hazard from Lake Palcacocha due to human-induced glacier retreat. Nature Geoscience, 14, 85-90,

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.