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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Dr Pippa Whitehouse

Research Fellow in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41877
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 307

Contact Dr Pippa Whitehouse (email at pippa.whitehouse@durham.ac.uk)

Research Overview

Summary
I am a NERC Independent Research Fellow (2013-2018) and I study glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA); the response of the Earth system to changes in ice and ocean loading during a glacial cycle. I investigate how this process can be used to understand changes in sea-level, solid earth deformation, and the volume of the global ice sheets during the last glacial cycle, and in the present day.

My previous work includes research into GIA processes in North America, Scandinavia and Siberia, and my current research focuses on Antarctica. I use numerical ice sheet models to create glaciologically- and data-consistent reconstructions of ice mass changes throughout Antarctica since the Last Glacial Maximum. These ice history models are used to drive a GIA model, from which predictions of present-day uplift rates and relative sea-level changes can be calculated. The outputs of the GIA model are tuned to fit observations of relative sea-level change around Antarctica by varying the rheological properties of the Earth within the model. The accuracy of the model predictions are then verified by comparing to GPS uplift rates.

Ongoing GIA processes result in the redistribution of internal and surface masses, and this alters the shape of the geoid. Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data, which record temporal variations in the Earth's gravity field, must be corrected for GIA affects before we can tease out the signal due to current ice-mass change. My recent work provides an error-bounded, GIA correction which has been used to place tighter constraints on the distribution of present-day ice-mass change throughout Antarctica. The GIA model output is available here for use by other groups working with GRACE data in Antarctica.

My previous work also includes research into the effect of lateral heterogeneities in Earth structure upon GIA, and the implications of including this complexity upon inferences of ice sheet history and mantle viscosity.This is an area that I am currently pursuing futher as improved constraints on heterogeneous Earth structure become available.

For wider audiences
For those who are interested, I have written a layman's summary of glacial isostatic adjustment, which explains the scientific ideas behind my research. In addition, the methods that we use to determine the rate at which Antarctica is currently losing ice are described in the Autumn 2012 edition of NERC's Planet Earth magazine. I also delivered the Bullerwell Lecture in 2016 in which I summarise my current work on 3D GIA modelling; a video of the recording from the 2016 PGRIP Meeting is available to view.

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Past and Ongoing Research

W12a GIA Model Output
GIA model output, which may be used to correct GRACE and altimetry data for the effects of GIA in Antarctica, is available for download. Please see Whitehouse et al. (2012, GJI) and the readme file for further details.

NERC Independent Research Fellowship
During my Fellowship I will work with a number of international collaborators and am grateful for their co-operation. These colaborators include Wouter van der Wal (TU Delft), Terry Wilson (Ohio State University), Doug Wiens (Washington University in St Louis), Ed Bueler (University of Alaska, Fairbanks) and Matt King (University of Tasmania).

Antarctic fieldwork
I am a collaborator on the UKANET project that is using seismic and GPS data to improve our undestanding of Earth structure beneath the Antarctic Peninsula. My fieldwork blog gives an insight into the work involved when installing such instruments at the ends of world!

Solid Earth Response and influence on Cryosphere Evolution (SERCE)
SERCE is a Scientific Research Program funded by the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR). With Prof. Matt King, I am currently co-director of this program, which seeks to facilitate collaboration with the goal of advancing out understanding of the interactions between the solid earth and the cryosphere to better constrain ice mass balance, ice dynamics and sea level change in a warming world.

Research Groups

Research Projects

Research Interests

  • Glacial isostatic adjustment
  • Ice-sheet modelling
  • Solid Earth deformation
  • Geodesy
  • Global sea-level change
  • Records of Antarctic ice-sheet change
  • Records of Antarctic relative sea-level change

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2016: :
    • British Geophysical Association - Bullerwell Lecturer
  • 2015: :
    • University of Tasmania, Visiting Scholar
    • Co-convenor at the EGU General Assembly
    • Co-convenor at the IUGG General Assembly
    • Invited Instructor at the POLENET GIA Training School
  • 2014: :
    • Invited speaker at the WEGENER Meeting
    • Invited speaker at the AGU Fall Meeting
    • Co-organiser of the MOCA model-data workshop on the Late Pleistocene evolution of Antarctica and Greenland
    • Invited Speaker for the Royal Meteorological Society (Edinburgh)
    • Invited lecturer at the Karthaus Summer School on Ice Sheets and Glaciers in the Climate System
  • 2013: :
    • Invited speaker at the 'Antarctic Ice Rises 2013' Workshop
    • Member of the Ice-Sheet Mass Balance and Sea Level (ISMASS) steering committee
    • Co-convenor at the AGU Fall Meeting
    • Co-convenor for the IAG Workshop on 'Reconciling observations and models of elastic and viscoelastic deformation due to ice mass change'
    • Invited Speaker for the Royal Meteorological Society (Durham, Manchester)
  • 2012: :
    • Invited lecturer at the Karthaus Summer School on Ice Sheets and Glaciers in the Climate System
    • Participant in the Ice sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise (IMBIE)
    • Invited speaker at the Ice-sheet Mass Balance and Sea Level workshop (ISMASS)
    • Invited speaker at the DynaQlim workshop on lithosphere-cryosphere interactions
    • Co-convenor at the AGU Fall Meeting
    • Co-convenor at the SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) Open Science Conference
    • Invited co-convenor of the ESF-funded SLALOM Workshop
  • 2010: :
    • Invited speaker at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting
    • Invited speaker at PALSEA 2010

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Chapter in book

  • Whitehouse, P.L. & Bradley, S.L. Eustatic sea-level changes since the Last Glacial Maximum. In: Elias, S.A. Encyclopedia of Quaternary Sciences, 2nd Edition. Elsevier (Amsterdam); 2013:439-451.

Conference Paper

  • Whitehouse, P.L & England, P.C The Viscosity Distribution in Asia. Eos Trans. AGU; 2002.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • King, M.A. & Whitehouse, P. On the Up. Planet Earth. 2012;14-15.

Report

  • Whitehouse, P. & Näslund, J-O. Climate and climate-related issues for the safety assessment SR-Site: Chapter 3.3. Isostatic adjustment and shore-level changes. 2010;TR-10-49, pp. 75-106.
  • Whitehouse, P. Glacial isostatic adjustment and sea-level change state of the art report. 2009;105.
  • Whitehouse, P. Climate and climate-related issues for the safety assessment SR-Can: Chapter 3.3. Isostatic adjustment and shoreline migration. 2006;68-92.

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2014: Defining models of glacial isostatic adjustment in West Antarctica and Antarctic Peninsula (UKANET): better constraints on Earth structure and uplift (£114431.93 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 2013: Constraining Antarctica's contribution to sea-level change: development of a new glacial isostatic adjustment model for Antarctica (£406340.00 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)

Supervises