The role of glacier structures in the degradation of Himalayan debris-covered glaciers for glacial hazard assessment (PhD Scholarship)


The role of glacier structures in the degradation of Himalayan debris-covered glaciers for glacial hazard assessment

Aberystwyth University, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Project ID: AUE10003

Annual Stipend: £14,483

Application Deadline: 5th August 2019

In common with mountain glaciers elsewhere in the world, Himalayan glaciers are responding to climate change by receding and thinning. This is especially pronounced in their terminal zones and in recent years many Himalayan glaciers have developed long debris-covered tongues and associated supraglacial ponds and, in extreme cases, stranded masses of stagnant debris-covered ice. In situations where the glaciers have receded from large terminal and lateral moraines formed at the ‘Little Ice Age’, proglacial lakes have subsequently formed between the moraines and the contemporary glacier. If these moraine-dammed lakes drain rapidly, for example due to moraine degradation, or moraine-dam failure caused by external trigger events such as glacier calving or ice and rock avalanches, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) can affect downstream communities and infrastructure catastrophically. The motivation for this study is to understand recent changes in these Himalayan glaciers – in particular how relict glacier structures influence the degradation of stagnating debris-covered ice masses and how these structures may then influence the morphological response, thermokarst processes,  and integrity of moraine dams in response to changing climate.  Example Himalayan glacial lake systems include Tsho Rolpa/Trakarding Glacier, Rolwaling, Imja Tsho/Glacier, Solukhumbu, and Thulagi Tsho, Marsyangdi, Nepal; and Cirenmacao Tsho, Poiqu, Tibet (ARC).  These structural glaciological assessments will form part of a wider study of Himalayan glacial geomorphology and glacier hazard assessment.

This project meets the needs of the company partner (Reynolds International Ltd, Mold) with whom the PhD student will spend some time, because it will strengthen their position as the world leader in glacier hazard assessment and mitigation. The company competes globally for work concerning individual site hazard assessment and mitigation, as well as regional assessments of water supply, hydropower and dams and associated socio-economic impacts. This project will specifically help to increase their capability in the area of glacial hazard assessment and site appraisal.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, preferably with a good Master of Science degree, and be available to take up the studentship by October 2019. The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply; they do not need to search for partners.)

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below) by Monday 5th August 2019.

  1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from
  2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AUE10003 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.

  1. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.

Please note: we anticipate sending out calls for interview in the week beginning 12th August 2019 with interviews to be held in Aberystwyth in the week beginning 19th August.

Value of Award: A stipend of £14,483 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years). Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).

Eligibility: Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be an EU national and resident in East Wales on University registration, and must also have the right to work in the region on qualification.

East Wales means the following counties of Wales:







Vale of Glamorgan

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof Neil Glasser at or 01970 622785

Address for applications:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Recruitment & Admissions
Student Welcome Centre
Aberystwyth University
SY23 3FB

Quote Reference: AUE10003

Closing date for applications: Monday 5th August 2019.