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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Mr Joshua Leigh

Personal web page

Research Postgraduate (PhD) in the Department of Geography
Room number: S105

Contact Mr Joshua Leigh (email at joshua.r.leigh@durham.ac.uk)

My research interests relate to the broad themes of glaciology, with a focus on glacial geochronology and geomorphology. I am particularly interested in glacial fluctuations since the Little Ice Age as a result of rapid, anthropogenically forced, climate change. Integrating a variety of methods including: GIS and remote sensing, field mapping, and relative age dating, to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of events and processes in contemporary glacial settings. I am also interested in science communication helping to “de-mystify” science and increase positive engagement with the “natural word”.

PhD research

Past, present and future response of Norwegian glaciers to climate forcing

My PhD aims to investigate the extent and rate of glacier change in Northern Norway since the Little Ice Age maximum. This research is of great importance as there is continued need for reliable, accurate, and up-to-date assessments on how mountain glaciers are responding to anthropogenically forced climate change. Norway is one country where issues of glacier recession are particularly acute. Glaciers cover an area of ~2692 km2 and play an integral role in Norway’s present-day productivity and identity, from local to national scale; glacier runoff is an important source of hydro-electric power and glaciers and guided glacier activities are important for tourism. Additionally recent glacial change has led to the development of proglacial lakes resulting in a currently unknown level of risk, as large Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) have been recorded over the past centuries.

Even though Norway has a rich history of glacial research, the majority has focused on the southern regions. Therefore, this project will provide opportunity for new research recording key data on the recent retreat of glaciers in central and northern Norway. It aims to determine contemporary glacier fluctuations (since AD ~1700 to present), across a range of climatic regimes, investigating glaciers that are under-studied and contain a range of glacier types, including very small glaciers which are known to be most vulnerable and sensitive (e.g. react quickest) to climate forcing.

Academic background

2015-16: MSc Environmental Science by Research (Distinction) - Queen Mary University of London

  • MSc thesis: “Testing the reliability of lichenometric dating in a continental high altitude site: a study in the Austrian Alps”
  • Supervisor: Dr Sven Lukas
  • Awarded Principles Prize for Academic Excellence

2012-2015: BSc (Hons) Geography (2:1) - Queen Mary University of London

  • BSc dissertation: “A multi methodological lichenometric approach to reconstruct historical fluctuations of the Hornkees glacier from extensive latero-frontal moraine sequences”
  • Supervisor: Dr Sven Lukas

Memberships

Quaternary Research Association 

British Lichen Society

British Society for Geomorphology 

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Pattern, dynamics and timing of Holocene glaciations
  • Geomorphological signature and dynamics of valley and cirque glaciers
  • Active temperate glacial landsystems
  • The Anthropocene

Selected Grants

  • 2017: IAPETUS studentship
  • 2016: Alpikit Foundation
  • 2016: British Lichen Society – Small Ecological Project Grants
  • 2014: Queen Mary University of London - Expedition Fund
  • 2014: Royal Geographical Society - Expedition Grant

Is supervised by