Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Prof. David Sugden

Department / group: School of Geosciences, Global Change / Cryosphere
Google Scholar URL: Not available

Research interests:

Glacial and polar geomorphology; the polar regions. Antarctic ice sheet stability. Climate and the dynamics of the Patagonian ice cap.

(Abridged from personal website)

My aim is to understand how ice sheets behave and interact with the global environment. There are four themes:

(a) An attempt to link glaciology with field studies in geomorphology/geology.

(b) Working with George Denton, David Marchant and others to explore the role of geomorphology and its link with tectonics, climate history and ice sheet evolution in the creation of the Transantarctic Mountains.

(c) Recently I have been working on the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. With John Stone we have demonstrated thinning of the ice sheet in Marie Byrd Land. Work with Mike Bentley has shown that the George VI Ice Shelf was not in existence in the early Holocene (9000 years ago). Now we are working with Chris Fogwill on the thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet around the Ellsworth Mountains and the Shackleton Mountains, using cosmogenic isotope analysis.

(d) Glacier fluctuations and climate change in Patagonia, recently published in Geografiska Annaler vol 87A no. 2, 2005.

Career history:

Present: Emeritus Professor, University of Edinburgh

Active research projects:

(Also from homepage)

Antarctica Research

I am involved in five projects in several areas of Antarctica, each of them working with colleagues in other universities in the UK and abroad.

-Landscape evolution, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Transantarctic Mountains

-East Antarctic Ice Sheet: stability, old ice, catastrophic meltwater outbursts

-West Antarctic ice-sheet history, Marie Byrd Land

-Holocene fluctuations of George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula

-West Antarctic Ice-sheet fluctuations in the Ellsworth Mountains

Patagonia Project

David Sugden (Edinburgh) and Chalmers Clapperton (Aberdeen), together with a number of colleagues, research assistants and PhD students, have been working for some 14 years on past climate change in Patagonia. Several members of the team are now independent researchers in a range of universities, namely: Mike Bentley (Durham) , Alum Hubbard (Edinburgh), Nick Hulton (Edinburgh), Bob McCulloch (Stirling), Mike Kaplan (Edinburgh), Tony Payne (Bristol), Ross Purves (Zurich).

The aim of the project is to use past glacier reconstructions to discover the nature of climate change during the transition from the last Ice Age to our present “interglacial” climate. We have based our approach on detailed mapping of former glacier limits, dating of the limits by radiocarbon and cosmogenic isotope analyses, and the construction of glaciological models with which to relate glacier history to the changes in climate.

Recent publications:

Winter, K., Woodward, J., Dunning, S.A., Turney, C.S., Fogwill, C.J., Hein, A.S., Golledge, N.R., Bingham, R.G., Marrero, S.M., Sugden, D.E. and Ross, N., 2016. Assessing the continuity of the blue ice climate record at Patriot Hills, Horseshoe Valley, West Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters.

Hein, A.S., Woodward, J., Marrero, S.M., Dunning, S.A., Steig, E.J., Freeman, S.P., Stuart, F.M., Winter, K., Westoby, M.J. and Sugden, D.E., 2016. Evidence for the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet divide for 1.4 million years. Nature communications, 7.

Westoby, M.J., Dunning, S.A., Woodward, J., Hein, A.S., Marrero, S.M., Winter, K. and Sugden, D.E., 2015. Inter-annual surface evolution of an Antarctic blue-ice moraine using multi-temporal DEMs. Earth Surface Dynamics Discussions, 3, pp.1317-1344.

Sugden, D.E., 2014. James Croll (1821–1890): ice, ice ages and the Antarctic connection. Antarctic Science, 26(06), pp.604-613.

Bentley, M.J., Cofaigh, C.Ó., Anderson, J.B., Conway, H., Davies, B., Graham, A.G., Hillenbrand, C.D., Hodgson, D.A., Jamieson, S.S., Larter, R.D. and Mackintosh, A., 2014. A community-based geological reconstruction of Antarctic Ice Sheet deglaciation since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews, 100, pp.1-9.

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