Richard Gravelle`s report

John Guest Phillips Memorial Travelling Scholarship 2009
Report by Richard Gravelle
Glaciers represent a critical storage component of the hydrological cycle, with strong effects on river discharge and water supplies for power generation and agricultural
irrigation. However, glacial meltwater is also an important medium for sediment transport. Sediment fluxes in glacial meltwater are highly responsive to climate-driven
environmental change and therefore provide important information regarding the relationships between glacier variations, climate and landscape change.
My PhD research uses high resolution monitoring and modeling to infer water routing and sediment transport in polythermal glaciers. Most studies of glacial hydrology
have focused on small valley glaciers which are temperate at their beds. However, this study will allow comparisons to be made between sediment transport in glaciers of
different temperature regimes, which are currently scarce. Polythermal glaciers also provide a more reliable analogue for former ice masses, and are therefore of great
importance to studies of past and future response of such glaciers to climatic variations.
The John Guest Phillips Memorial Travelling Scholarship has allowed me to conduct seven weeks of intensive fieldwork at the glacier Storglaciären in Arctic Sweden. This
work allowed a proglacial stream monitoring programme to be established, including the installation of turbidity probes and H-ADCPs (Horizontal Acoustic Doppler Current
Profilers), as well as the physical collection of sediment samples at regular intervals. Ultimately, these data will be used to calibrate and validate a model of water flow
through the glacier, and sediment transport associated with subglacial hydrological processes, which is critical to my research.
The money I received through the John Guest Phillips Memorial Travelling Scholarship funded my travel to Sweden and allowed me to stay at Stockholm University’s
Tarfala Research Station and collaborate with international scientists. In conclusion, this generous award has enabled me to undertake the first part of my fieldwork
programme and has provided me with an excellent foundation for the rest of my PhD research project.
Richard Gravelle
(PhD Student, Department of Geography)