Climate change and the spectre of ‘global warming’ pose a major threat to the world’s glaciers, with serious implications for sea level rise, water resource use and geohazards. There are potentially worrying signs from the polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica but the response of these huge continental ice masses is complex. In contrast, smaller mountain glaciers and ice caps respond much more rapidly to climate change and recent research reveals a widespread global pattern of retreat from the tropics to the mid- and high-latitudes.
These observations are derived largely from glacier monitoring using satellite observations from space. This lecture will provide an up-to-date and accessible overview of this much-debated research topic. The implications of glacier retreat will also be explored, emphasising that climate change is having, and will continue to have, profound affects on human activity throughout the world.
Dr Chris Stokes is a Reader in the Department of Geography at Durham University. His research is focused on glaciers, and ranges from the monitoring of small mountain glaciers over the last few decades to large-scale reconstructions of ice sheets over tens of thousands of years.
A common theme to much of his work is the use of remote sensing (e.g. satellite imagery), which allows repeat monitoring of changes in present-day glaciers and provides an efficient means to visualise and investigate the landforms left behind by former ice sheets during the last ice age. He has published over 60 research papers and contributed to several books and Encylopedias.
In 2009 he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize (£70,000) in recognition of his research contributions, and in 2013 he was awarded the British Society for Geomorphology’s Gordon Warwick Medal. He currently serves on the Editorial Boards for two international journals: The Cryosphere and the Journal of Maps.