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Staff Profile

Dr Chris Stokes

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41955
Fax: +44 (0)191 33 41801
Room number: 403

Contact Dr Chris Stokes (email at


My research is focussed 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 of much of my 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.

Together with postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and collaborators from both the UK and abroad, recent research can be grouped under the following broad themes:

Measuring and monitoring the response of glaciers to recent climate change: this involves both satellite remote sensing and field-based studies to investigate how glaciers are responding to recent climate change and variability, with a particular focus on glaciated regions of Russia (e.g. the Caucasus, Russian High Arctic islands and Siberia) and major outlet glaciers in Greenland and East Antarctica.

Reconstructing former ice sheet and ice stream dynamics: this work uses satellite imagery to map glacial landforms left behind by former ice sheets in order to reconstruct their evolution and links to the ocean-climate system. Early work focussed on locating and reconstructing the behaviour of fast-flow features, known as ice streams, and this has since evolved into looking at their role in the deglaciation of former ice sheets. A key component of this work has been to assess how well numerical ice sheet models reproduce ice stream dynamics, which has implications for predicting and modelling future ice sheet behaviour. Whilst much of this work has been focussed on the North American (Laurentide) Ice Sheet, I’ve contributed to studies on all of the world’s major ice sheets.

Investigating the formation of subglacial bedforms: satellite imagery is an efficient technique to map a variety of glacial landforms created by glaciers and ice sheets. Recent work has contributed towards the collection of large datasets of landform characteristics and these have been used to formulate and test ideas about their formation (e.g. drumlins and mega-scale glacial lineations) and refine numerical models of ice flow over sediments. These datasets have also been used to help interpret recent geophysical evidence of subglacial bedforms beneath ice streams in Antarctica.

Glacial landforms and landscapes on Mars: imagery of Mars is now comparable (and, in places, much better) than that for the Earth’s surface. Based on Earth analogues, recent work has investigated the potential role of glaciers (and liquid water) in shaping Martian landscapes.

In 2009 I was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize (£70,000) in recognition of my research contributions, and in 2013 I was awarded the British Society for Geomorphology’s Gordon Warwick Medal. I currently serve on the Editorial Boards for The Cryosphere and the Journal of Maps, and as Vice President for the International Glaciological Society's British Branch


External Research Projects

Former PhD Students

  • Rachel Carr (2014): Ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic Seas.
  • Robert Storrar (2014): Reconstructing subglacial meltwater dynamics from the spatial and temporal variation in the form and pattern of eskers.
  • Andrew Turner (2013): Deglaciation of the Great Glen, Scotland: reconstructed from geophysical surveys and landform mapping.
  • Philip Prescott (2013): Quantifying subglacial roughness and its link to glacial geomorphology and ice speed.
  • Heather Channon (2012): Multi-scale analysis of the landforms and sediments of palaeo-ice streams.
  • Victoria Brown (2012): Ice stream dynamics at the north-western margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet.
  • Katie Grant (2010): Changes in glacier extent since the Little Ice Age and links to 20th/21st Century climatic variability on Novaya Zemlya, Russian Arctic.

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Research Projects

Department of Geography

Selected Publications

Journal papers: academic

  • Turner, A.J., Woodward, J., Stokes, C.R., O'Cofaigh, C. & Dunning, S. (2014). A Glacial geomorphological map of the Great Glen region of Scotland. Journal of Maps 10(1): 159-178.
  • Darvill, C.M., Stokes, C.R., Bentley, M.J. & Lovell, H. (2014). A glacial geomorphological map of the southernmost ice lobes of Patagonia: the Bahia Inutil - San Sebastian, Magellan, Otway, Skring and Rio Gallegos lobes. Journal of Maps 10(3): 500-520.
  • Stokes, C.R., Corner, G.C., Winsborrow, M.C.M., Husum, K. & Andreassen, K. (2014). Asynchronous response of marine-terminating outlet glaciers during deglaciation of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet. Geology
  • Storrar, R.D., Stokes, C.R. & Evans, D.J.A. (2014). Increased channelization of subglacial drainage during deglaciation of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Geology 42(3): 239-242.
  • Carr, J.R., Stokes, C,R. & Vieli, A. (2014). Recent retreat of major outlet glaciers on Novaya Zemlya, Russian Arctic, influenced by fjord geometry and sea-ice conditions. Journal of Glaciology 60(219): 155-170.
  • Jamieson, S.S.R., Vieli, A., O'Cofaigh, C., Stokes, C.R., Livingstone, S.J. & Hillenbrand, C-D. (2014). Understanding controls on rapid ice stream retreat during the last deglacition of Marguerite Bay, Antarctica, using a numerical model. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface 119(2): doi:10.1002/2013JF002934, 2014, 247-263.
  • Storrar, R.D., Stokes, C.R. & Evans, D.J.A. (2013). A map of large Canadian eskers from Landsat satellite imagery. Journal of Maps 9(3): 456-473.
  • Stokes, C.R., Shahgedanova, M., Evans, I.S. & Popovnin, V.V. (2013). Accelerated loss of alpine glaciers in the Kodar Mountains, south-eastern Siberia Global and Planetary Change 101: 82-96.
  • Davila, A.F., Fairen, A.G., Stokes, C.R., Platz, T., Rodriguez, A.P., Lacelle, D., Dohm, J. & Pollard, W. (2013). Evidence for Hesperian glaciation along the Martian dichotomy boundary. Geology 41(7): 755-758.
  • Stokes, C.R., Spagnolo, M., Clark, C.D., O'Cofaigh, C., Lian, O.B. & Dunstone, R.B. (2013). Formation of mega-scale glacial lineations on the Dubawnt Lake Ice Stream bed: 1. Size, Shape and Spacing from a large remote sensing dataset. Quaternary Science Reviews 77: 190-209.
  • O'Cofaigh, C., Stokes, C.R., Lian, O.B., Clark, C.D. & Tulaczyk, S. (2013). Formation of mega-scale glacial lineations on the Dubawnt Lake Ice Stream bed: 2. Sedimentology and stratigaphy. Quaternary Science Reviews 77: 210-227.
  • Livingstone, S.J., O'Cofaigh, C., Stokes, C.R., Hillenbrand, C-D., Vieli, A. & Jamieson, S.S.R. (2013). Glacial geomorphology of Marguerite Bay Palaeo-Ice stream, western Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Maps 9(4): 558-572.
  • Carr, J.R., Vieli, A. & Stokes, C.R. (2013). Influence of sea ice decline, atmospheric warming, and glacier width on marine-terminating outlet glacier behavior in northwest Greenland at seasonal to interannual timescales. Journal of Geophysical Research 118(3): 1210-1226.
  • Fowler, A.C., Spagnolo, M., Clark, C.D., Stokes, C.R., Hughes, A.L.C. & Dunlop, P. (2013). On the size and shape of drumlins. International Journal of Geomathematics 4: 155-165.
  • Miles, B.W.J., Stokes, C.R., Vieli, A. & Cox, N.J. (2013). Rapid, climate-driven changes in outlet glaciers on the Pacific coast of East Antarctica. Nature 500(7464): 563-566.
  • Carr, J.R., Stokes, C.R. & Vieli, A. (2013). Recent progress in understanding marine-terminating Arctic outlet glacier response to climatic and oceanic forcing: twenty years of rapid change. Progress in Physical Geography 37(4): 435-466.
  • Hillier, J.K., Smith, M.J., Clark, C.D., Stokes, C.R. & Spagnolo, M. (2013). Subglacial bedforms reveal an exponential size-frequency distribution. Geomorphology 190: 82-91.
  • Stokes, C.R., Fowler, A.C., Clark, C.D., Hindmarsh, R.C.A. & Spagnolo, M. (2013). The instability theory of drumlin formation and its explanation of their varied composition and internal structure. Quaternary Science Reviews 62: 77-96.

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Geography: Glacial landforms
  • Environmental change: Glaciers and climate change