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Interdisciplinary Research Centre


Julian Dowdeswell graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1980, and studied for a Masters Degree at INSTAAR in the University of Colorado and for a Ph.D. in the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.

His research interests include: (a) the dynamics of large ice masses and their response to climate change; (b) the application of airborne and satellite geophysical techniques in glaciology, and (c) processes and patterns of sedimentation in glacier-influenced marine environments. He has worked, on the ice and from airborne platforms, in a number of areas of the Arctic, including Svalbard, Russian Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya, Iceland, East Greenland and Baffin, Devon and Ellesmere Islands in Arctic Canada. He has also undertaken many periods of work on icebreaking research vessels in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, in the fjords and on the continental shelves of Svalbard and Greenland, and in Antarctica.

Julian has been awarded the Polar Medal by Her Majesty the Queen for 'outstanding contributions to glacier geophysics' and has also received the Founder's Medal (2008) and the Gill Memorial Award (1998) from the Royal Geographical Society. In 2011 he was awarded the Louis Agassiz Medal by the Eurpoean Geosciences Union for 'outstanding contributions to the study of polar ice masses and to the understanding of the processes and patterns of sedimentation in glacier-influenced marine environments.'

Julian is a Fellow of Jesus College.


  • 2002 to present: Director, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
  • 2001 to present: Professor of Physical Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 1998-2001: Professor of Physical Geography and Director of the Bristol Glaciology Centre, University of Bristol
  • 1994-1998: Professor of Glaciology and Director and Head of Department, Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth (1997 to 1998)
  • 1992-1994: Assistant Director of Research, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
  • 1989-1992: Senior Assistant in Research, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
  • 1986-1989: Lecturer in Physical Geography University of Wales, Aberystwyth


  • B.A. in Geography, University of Cambridge,
  • M.A. University of Colorado, INSTAAR
  • Ph.D. Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge


Major research interests

  • Glaciological investigations of the form and flow of glaciers and ice sheets. Continuing integrated programme of field and numerical modelling work on high Arctic ice masses and their responses to climate change.
  • Processes and patterns of glacial sedimentation in marine environments, emphasising links between geophysical measurements and numerical modelling of sediment delivery to continental margins.
  • Satellite remote sensing studies of large ice masses. In particular, the quantitative analysis of satellite datasets to solve glaciological problems and to provide boundary conditions for numerical models.


Key publications: 

Selected Publications


  • Dowdeswell, E.K., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Seddon, A., 2012. Scott of the Antarctic. Hinemann-Raintree (Young Explorers Series).
  • Dowdeswell, J.A., Lane, H.E., Charlier, G. and de Pomereau, J., (Editors), 2009. Captain Scott's Antarctic Expedition 1911-13: the Photographs of Herbert Ponting. Salto Ulbeek and Scott Polar Research Institute, Boxed Portfolio of 48 prints and 6 essays.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Lane, H.E., 2006. The Antarctic Paintings of Edward Seago. Scott Polar Research Institute, Occasional Publication Series, 98 pp.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Ó Cofaigh, C., (Editors), 2002. Glacier-Influenced Sedimentation on High Latitude Continental Margins, Geological Society, London, Special Publication, No. 203, 378 pp.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Hambrey, M.J., 2002. Islands of the Arctic. Cambridge University Press, 280 pp.
  • Elverhøi, A., Dowdeswell, J.A., Funder, S., Mangerud, J. and Stein, R., (Editors), 1998. Glacial and Oceanic History of the Polar North Atlantic Margins, Elsevier, 302 pp.
  • Wadhams, P., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Schofield, A.N., (Editors), 1996. The Arctic and Environmental Change. The Royal Society, Gordon and Breach, 193 pp.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Scourse, J.D., (Editors), 1990. Glacimarine Environments: Processes and Sediments, Geological Society, London, Special Publication No. 53, 423 pp.

Journal Papers

  • Jennings, A.E., Walton, M.E., Ó Cofaigh, C., Kilfeather, A.A., Andrews, J.T., Ortiz, J.T., DeVernal, A. and Dowdeswell, J.A., 2014. Palaeoenvironments during Younger Dryas-Early Holocene Greenland Ice Sheet retreat from outer Disko Trough, central west Greenland. Journal of Quaternary Science, v. 29, p. 27-40.
  • Van Wychen, W., Burgess, D.O., Gray, L., Copland, L., Sharp, M., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Benham, T.J., 2014. Glacier velocities and dynamic ice discharge from the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, Canada. Geophysical Research Letters, v. 41, doi:10.1002/2013GL058558.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Ottesen, D., 2013. Buried iceberg ploughmarks in the Early Quaternary sediments of the central North Sea: a two million year record of glacial influence from 3D seismic data. Marine Geology, v. 344, p. 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.06.019 [[pdf]PDF]
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Vasquez, M., 2013. Submarine landforms in the fjords of southern Chile: implications for glacimarine processes and sedimentation in a mild glacier-influenced environment. Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 64, p. 1-19.
  • Batchelor, C.L., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Pietras, J., 2013. Variable history of Quaternary ice-sheet advance across the Beaufort Sea margin, Arctic Ocean. Geology, v. 41, p. 131-134.
  • Batchelor, C.L., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Pietras, J.T., 2013. Seismic stratigraphy, sedimentary architecture and palaeo-glaciology of the Mackenzie Trough: evidence for two Quaternary ice advances and limited fan development on the western Canadian Beaufort Sea margin. Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 65, p. 73-87.
  • Gales, J.A., Larter, R.D., Mitchell, N.C. and Dowdeswell, J.A., 2013. Geomorphic signature of Antarctic submarine gullies: implications for continental slope processes. Marine Geology, v. 337, p. 112-124.
  • Griggs, J.A., Bamber, J.L., Hurkmans, R.T.W.L., Dowdeswell, J.A., Gogineni, S.P., Howat, I., Mouginot, J., Paden, J., Palmer, S., Rignot, E. and Steinhage, D., 2013. A new bed elevation dataset for Greenland. The Cryosphere. v. 7, p. 499-510.
  • Hogan, K.A., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Mienert, J., 2013. New insights into slide processes and seafloor geology revealed by side-scan imagery of the massive Hinlopen Slide, Arctic Ocean margin. Geo-Marine Letters, v. 33, p. 325-343.
  • Ó Cofaigh, C., Dowdeswell, J.A., Jennings, A.E., Hogan, K.A., Kilfeather, A.A., Hiemstra, J.F., Noormets, R., Evans, J., McCarthy, D.J., Andrews, J.T., Lloyd, J.M. and Moros, M., 2013. An extensive and dynamic ice sheet on the West Greenland shelf during the last glacial cycle. Geology, v. 41, p. 219-222.
  • Ó Cofaigh, C., Andrews, J.T., Jennings, A.E., Dowdeswell, J.A., Hogan, K.A., Kilfeather, A.A. and Sheldon, C., 2013. Glacimarine lithofacies, provenance and depositional processes on a West Greenland trough-mouth fan. Journal of Quaternary Science, v. 28, p. 13-26.
  • Palmer, S.J., Dowdeswell, J.A., Christoffersen, P., Young, D.A., Blankenship, D.D., Greenbaum, J.S., Benham, T., Bamber, J. and Siegert, M.J., 2013. Greenland subglacial lakes detected by radar. Geophysical Research Letters, v. 40, doi:10.1002/2013GL058383.
Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute
Professor of Physical Geography
Professor Julian A.  Dowdeswell

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