Professor Chris Stokes
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 President of the International Glaciological Society's British Branch.
External Research Projects
Former PhD Students
- Christopher Darvill (2015): The nature and timing of glaciation in southermost South America.
- 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.
- Climate Change and Glacier Dynamics in the Caucasus and the Mountains of Southern Siberia
- Glaciated North Atlantic Margins (GLANAM)
- Identification and characterisation of ice stream sticky spots: an improved understanding of ice stream basal mechanics and shut-down
- Reconstructing Ice Stream Behaviour During Marine Ice Sheet Collapse
- Terrestrial Record of Former Arctic Ice Streams: Elucidating the Controls on Ice Stream Location and Vigour, The
- Testing the Instability Mechanism for Subglacial Bedform Production
- Understanding Marine Ice Stream Retreat Using Numerical Modelling and Geophysical Data
- Ely, J.C., Clark, C.D., Spagnolo, M., Stokes, C.R., Greenwood, S.L., Hughese, A.L.C., Dunlopf, P. & Hessg, D. Do subglacial bedforms comprise a size and shape continuum?. Geomorphology. 2016;257:108-119.
- Darvill, C.M., Stokes, C.R., Bentley, M.J., Evans, D.J.A. & Lovell, H. Dynamics of former ice lobes of the southernmost Patagonian Ice Sheet based on a glacial landsystems approach. Journal of Quaternary Science. 2016.
- Hillier, J.K., Kougioumtzoglou, I.A., Stokes, C.R., Smith, M.J., Clark, C. & Spagnolo, M.S. Exploring Explanations of Subglacial Bedform Sizes Using Statistical Models. PLoS ONE. 2016;11:e0159489.
- Stokes, C.R., Margold, M., Clark, C.D. & Tarasov, L. Ice stream activity scaled to ice sheet volume during Laurentide Ice Sheet deglaciation. Nature. 2016;530:322-326.
- Spagnolo, M., Phillips, E., Piotrowski, J.A., Rea, B.R., Clark, C.D., Stokes, C.R., Carr, S.J., Ely, J.C., Ribolini, A., Wysota, W. & Szuman, I. Ice stream motion facilitated by a shallow-deforming and accreting bed. Nature Communications. 2016;7:10723.
- Otteson, D., Stokes, C.R., Bøe, R., Rise, L., Longva, O., Thorsnes, T., Olesen, O., Bugge, T., Lepland, A. & Hestvik, O.B. Landform assemblages and sedimentary processes along the Norwegian Channel Ice Stream. Sedimentary Geology. 2016;338:115-137.
- Miles, B.W.J., Stokes, C.R. & Jamieson, S.S.R. Pan–ice-sheet glacier terminus change in East Antarctica reveals sensitivity of Wilkes Land to sea-ice changes. Science Advances. 2016;2:e1501350.
- Piasecka, E.D., Winsborrow, M.C.M., Andreassen, K. & Stokes, C.R. Reconstructing the retreat dynamics of the Bjørnøyrenna Ice Stream based on new 3D seismic geomorphology from the central Barents Sea. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2016.
- Stokes, C.R., Margold, M. & Creyts, T.T. Ribbed bedforms on palaeo-ice stream beds resemble regular patterns of basal shear stress (‘traction ribs’) inferred from modern ice streams. Journal of Glaciology. 2016;62:696-713.
- Barchyn, T.E., Dowling, T.P.F., Stokes, C.R. & Hugenholtz, C.G. Subglacial bedform morphology controlled by ice speed and sediment thickness. Geophysical Research Letters. 2016;43:7572-7580.
- Livingstone, S.J., Stokes, C.R., O Cofaigh, C., Hillenbrand, C-D., Vieli, A., Jamieson, S.S.R., Spagnolo, M. & Dowdeswell, J. Subglacial processes on an Antarctic ice stream bed. 1: Sediment transport and bedform genesis inferred from marine geophysical data. Journal of Glaciology. 2016;62:270-284.
- Jamieson, S.S.R., Stokes, C.R., Livingstone, S.J., Vieli, A. Ò Cofaigh, C., Hillenbrand, C-D. & Spagnolo, M. Subglacial processes on an Antarctic ice stream bed. 2: Can modelled ice dynamics explain the morphology of mega-scale glacial lineations?. Journal of Glaciology. 2016;62:285-298.
- Bickerdike,H., Evans, D.J.A., Ó Cofaigh, C. & Stokes, C.R. The glacial geomorphology of the Loch Lomond Stadial in Britain: a map and geographic information system resource of published evidence. Journal of Maps. 2016.
- Darvill, C.M., Bentley, M.J., Stokes, C.R. & Shulmeister, J. The timing and cause of glacial advances in the southern mid-latitudes during the last glacial cycle based on a synthesis of exposure ages from Patagonia and New Zealand. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2016;149:200-214.
- Livingstone, S.J., Storrar, R.D., Hillier, J.K., Stokes, C.R., Clark, C.D. & Tarasov, L. An ice-sheet scale comparison of eskers with modelled subglacial drainage routes. Geomorphology. 2015;246:104-112.
- Carr, J.R., Vieli, A., Stokes, C.R., Jamieson, S.S.R., Palmer, S.J., Christoffersen, P., Dowdeswell, J.A., Nick, F.M., Blankenship, D.D. & Young, D.A. Basal topographic controls on rapid retreat of Humboldt Glacier, northern Greenland. Journal of Glaciology. 2015;61:137-150.
- Storrar, R.D., Evans, D.J.A., Stokes, C.R. & Ewertowski, M. Controls on the location, morphology and evolution of complex esker systems at decadal timescales, Breiðamerkurjökull, southeast Iceland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 2015;40:1421-1438.
- Darvill, C.M., Bentley, M.J., Stokes, C.R., Hein, A.S. & Rodés, A. Extensive MIS 3 glaciation in southernmost Patagonia revealed by cosmogenic nuclide dating of outwash sediments. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 2015;429:157-169.
- Darvill, Christopher M., Bentley, Michael J. & Stokes, Chris R. Geomorphology and weathering characteristics of erratic boulder trains on Tierra del Fuego, southernmost South America: implications for dating of glacial deposits. Geomorphology. 2015;228:382-397.
- Margold, M., Stokes, C.R., Clark, C.D. & Kleman, J. Ice streams in the Laurentide Ice Sheet: a new mapping inventory. Journal of Maps. 2015;11:380-395.
- Margold, M., Stokes, C.R. & Clark, C.D. Ice streams in the Laurentide Ice Sheet: identification, characteristics and comparison to modern ice sheets. Earth-Science Reviews. 2015;143:117-146.
- Hillier, J.K., Smith, M.J., Armugam, R., Barr, I., Boston, C.M., Clark, C.D., Ely, J., Fankl, J., Greenwood, S.L., Gosselin, L., Hattestrand, C., Hogan, K., Hughes, A.L., Livingstone, S.L., Lovell, H., McHenry, M., Monoz, Y., Pellicer, X.M., Pellitero, R., Robb, C., Roberson, S., Ruther, D., Spagnolo, M., Standell, M., Stokes, C.R., Storrar, R., Tate, N.J. & Wooldridge, K. Manual mapping of drumlins in synthetic landscapes to assess operator effectiveness. Journal of Maps. 2015;11:719-729.
- Stokes, C.R., Tarasov, L., Blomdin, R., Cronin, T.M., Fisher, T.G., Gyllencreutz, R., Hättestrand, C., Heyman, J., Hindmarsh, R.C.A., Hughes, A.L.C., Jakobsson, M., Kirchner, N., Livingstone, S.J., Margold, M., Murton, J.B., Noormets, R., Peltier, W.R., Peteet, D.M., Piper, D.J.W., Preusser, F., Renssen, H., Roberts, D.H., Roche, D.M., Saint-Ange, F., Stroeven, A.P. & Teller, J.T. On the Reconstruction of Palaeo-Ice Sheets: Recent Advances and Future Challenges. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2015;125:15-49.
- Chang, M., Jamieson, S.S.R., Bentley, M.J. & Stokes, C.R. The surficial and subglacial geomorphology of western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Journal of Maps. 2015.
Available for media contact about:
- Environmental change: Glaciers and climate change
- Geography: Glacial landforms
- 2012: How important are ice streams in accelerating ice sheet deglaciation? (£197631.56 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
- 2010: Philip Leverhulme Prize (£70000.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
- 2009: Reconstructing marine ice sheet collapse-International Joint Project (£10602.00 from The Royal Society)
- 2006: TESTING THE INSTABILITY THEORY (£5517.00 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)