Glacier Lake Outburst Floods in Chilean Patagonia – detection, prediction and impacts

About the project or challenge area

Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) occur when meltwater drains catastrophically from lakes damned by moraine or by a glacier margin. In Chilean Patagonia, GLOFS are becoming increasingly hazardous as ice-dammed lake volumes increase with glacier retreat. This project will investigate GLOFs at Steffen Glacier which drains the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. Here, >2 GLOFs are reported every summer and are becoming a risk to human life. Using 3 year records of river water stage (via sensors), time lapse photography and 30 years of satellite data (e.g. Sentinel), the project aims to determine the characteristics, frequency and causes of the GLOFS. It will go onto propose solutions for early warning systems, in collaboration with project partners in Chile.

Why choose this opportunity?

You may have the opportunity to join a field expedition to Steffen Glacier, Chile later in 2019 (experience permitting), though this is not required for the project.

About you

Some background in hydrological processes, high level of fitness, expedition experience or remote camping and hiking (if interested in fieldwork).

Bench fees


How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB).


Your supervisor for this project will be Jemma Wadham, Professor in Glaciology in the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact her at +44 (0) 117 42 82352 or email .


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Dr Jeff Neal from the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 928 9113 or email

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Environmental Change theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to provide the evidence base and solutions to tackle the world's most pressing environmental challenges. Find out more about the Environmental Change research theme.

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