Monitoring processes, interactions and feedbacks in the supraglacial environment

Figure 1‌CfG Staff: Tris Irvine-Fynn, Arwyn Edwards

Key Collaborators: Joe Cook (Derby), Jon Bridge (Liverpool), Jim Chandler (Loughborough), Enoc Sanz-Ablanedo (Leon, Spain), Nozomu Takeuchi (Chiba, Japan), Tim James (Swansea), Andy Hodson and Rob Bryant (Sheffield)


Our research explores the linkages between ice surface characteristics, and to date has been focused on High-Arctic glaciers where climatic forcing is anticipated to be heightened. In particular, this research theme aims to identify the reciprocal ice surface process interactions which have critical influence upon glacier albedo, roughness and hydrology. These characteristics of the ice surface have strong interactions with the ecological development and productivity of the ice surface, which is now recognised as an ecosystem in its own right. The coupling between biological and physical aspects of the supraglacial environment has yet to be fully interrogated in any depth. Consequently, in developing methods to resolve these uncertainties, we look to employ cutting-edge techniques in image analysis and spectrometry (Figure 1), photogrammetry (Figure 2), and field-based observation to link the varied characteristics of the evolving glacier surface and its biogeochemical activity.  


Figure 2‌Key publications:
E Sanz-Ablanedo, JH Chandler, TDL Irvine-Fynn. 2012. Studying glacial melt processes using sub-centimeter DEM extraction and digital close-range photogrammetry. Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XXXIX-B5, 435-440

TDL, Irvine-Fynn, Bridge, J W, Hodson, A J. 2011. In situ quantification of supraglacial cryoconite morphodynamics using time-lapse imaging: an example from Svalbard. Journal of Glaciology, 57, 651-657. DOI:

‌Edwards, A; Anesio, A.M.; Rassner, S.M.; Sattler, B.; Hubbard, B.P.; Perkins, W.T.; Young, M. and Griffith, G.W. (2011) Possible interactions between bacterial diversity, microbial activity and supraglacial hydrology of cryoconite holes in Svalbard. ISME Journal.  5:150-160. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2010.100

Figure 3TDL Irvine-Fynn, JW Bridge, AJ Hodson. 2010. Rapid quantification of cryoconite: granule geometry and in situ supraglacial extent, using examples from Greenland and Svalbard. Journal of Glaciology, 56: 297-308. DOI:

A Hodson, K Cameron, C Bøggild, T Irvine-Fynn, H Langford, D Pearce, S Banwart. 2010. The structure, biogeochemistry and formation of cryoconite aggregates upon an Arctic valley glacier; Longyearbreen, Svalbard. Journal of Glaciology, 56: 349-362. DOI:

J Cook, A Hodson, J Telling, A Anesio, TDL Irvine-Fynn, C Bellas. 2010. The mass-area relationship within cryoconite holes and its implications for primary production. Annals of Glaciology, 51(56): 106-110 DOI: