Jonathan Ryan

Photograph of Jonathan Ryan.PhD Student
MPhil Polar Studies (University of Cambridge)
BSc Geography (University of Nottingham)


Office: H3


Investigating the short-term controls on tidewater glacier behaviour




Johnny graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Geography in June 2012. He then started a master’s degree at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge in October 2012 where he developed an interest in glaciology. Johnny is now a PhD student at Aberystwyth University where he investigates 1) the short-term dynamics of marine-terminating glaciers in Greenland and 2) the albedo of the Greenland Ice Sheet using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  He is funded by the Aberystwyth University Department of Geography and Earth Sciences Doctoral Career Development Scheme (DCDS).

Follow on twitter: @glaciology_uavs

Google scholar


Group affiliation: Glaciology


The primary aim of Johnny’s PhD is to deploy a fixed-wing UAV ( over the Greenland Ice Sheet. The UAV was developed by Dr. Neal Snooke and built in Aberystwyth University. It currently has the ability to fly autonomously for 70 km and can carry a digital camera, pyranometer and several GoPros. More information can be found in the sections below.

 A 3 month field campaign in the summer of 2014 resulted in the completion of 60 surveys of Store Glacier, West Greenland and 25 surveys of the Dark Snow ( camp. The images obtained from these surveys can be processed using stereophotogrammetry to produce high resolution, georeferenced orthophotos and digital elevation models. These products allow the investigation of glacial processes at high spatial and temporal resolution.


In the 2014/2015 academic year, Johnny will be leading two Environmental Earth Science (F640) tutorials and demonstrating in the following modules:

  • EAM1120 – Advanced Research Skills 1: science communication and data analysis
  • EA201410 – Hydrochemistry
  • GG21710 – Analysis of Geographical Data




  1. Ryan, J. C., Hubbard, A. L., Todd, J., Carr, J. R., Box, J. E., Christoffersen, P., Holt, T. O., and Snooke, N. (2014): Repeat UAV photogrammetry to assess calving front dynamics at a large outlet glacier draining the Greenland Ice Sheet, The Cryosphere Discuss., 8, 2243-2275, DOI. PDF



  1. Ryan, J. C. (2014) UAVs for Glaciology: operating in remote and hazardous environments, presented at The Future of Earth Observation from UAVs: A Joint ARPAS-UK and RSPSoc UAV-SIG Workshop & Exhibition, Aberystwyth, 2nd September 2014.
  2. Ryan, J. C. (2014) Using repeat UAV photogrammetry to assess the dynamics of Store Glacier, Greenland, presented at Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society annual conference, Aberystwyth, 5th September 2014.

Media Coverage


  1. Prigg, M. (2014) The ‘dark ice’ in Greenland caused by forest fires. Daily Mail Online [Online] 18th September. Available from:
  2. National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC): Greenland Today (2014) Sky Selfie. [Online] 20th August. Available from:
  3. Yulsman, T.(2014) Getting Droned on Greenland’s Ice Sheet. Discover Magazine [Online] 30th August. Available from:
  4. Sinclair, P. (2014) Dark Snow 2014: Sealed with a KISS. Climate Denial Crock of the Week [Online] 13th August. Available from:
  5. Aber News (2014) UAV technology aids in collecting invaluable data. [Online] 30th July. Available from:



  1. Store Glacier UAV Project [Online] Available from:
  2. ITV News Wales (2014) [Online] Available from: