Mark Adair

Northumbria research fellow receives a 'cool' £1.5m for Arctic study

A researcher from Northumbria University has received a prestigious fellowship award to study Antarctica’s future contribution to rising global sea level.

Dr Jan De Rydt, a Senior VC Research Fellow specialising in polar glaciology and oceanography, has become the University’s fourth recipient of a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship Award, which will enable him to further evaluate present-day and future changes to the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the impact this will have on sea level rise.

The Future Leaders Fellowships were announced by UKRI today (Wednesday 15 June) by Science Minister George Freeman. In total, £98m is being awarded to more than 80 promising future leaders across the UK to undertake research that tackles major global issues, and to support the commercialisation of their innovations.

Northumbria is already becoming known as the UK’s leading university for glaciology research and this funding will enable continued research that will feed into other work on ice sheet modelling around the world. It will provide vital intelligence for environmentalists and policymakers as they attempt to combat the effects of climate change.

Starting in September, the project provides £1.5m of funding for Jan and four other researchers to carry out their work over the next four years. They will run computer simulations that will help them understand better the complex interactions between ocean flows, ice sheet movements and the atmosphere in Antarctica.

Jan said, “We’re facing global challenges relating to climate change. Antarctica holds a lot of fresh water in the form of ice. If global warming continues, there’s a risk that more of the ice will turn to water, which will cause sea level to rise.”

The work will build on Northumbria’s extensive expertise in the study of extreme environments around the world. Jan is a member of the University’s Cold & Palaeo Environments group (CAPE), believed to be the largest team of cold climate researchers in the country.

Researchers are involved in major international studies including a £4 million study to assess tipping points in the Antarctic climate system. They are also taking on leading roles in the £20m UK/US International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration where they are investigating one of the most unstable glaciers in Antarctica.

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said, “The Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with the freedom and generous long-term support to progress adventurous new ideas, and to move across disciplinary boundaries and between academia and industry.”

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