Dr Nicholas E. Barrand BSc, MSc, PhD

Dr Nicholas E. Barrand

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Associate Professor of Glaciology
Senior Admissions Tutor

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Nicholas Barrand is a glaciologist focusing on glacier mass balance, sea-level rise, and the role, importance, and future evolution of glaciers as water resources. His research group addresses these issues using a range of interdisciplinary approaches including field observations and measurements, numerical modelling, and optical and microwave remote sensing.


  • P.G. Cert. Academic Practice, University of Birmingham (Distinction)
  • Ph.D. Glaciological Remote Sensing, University of Leeds and Swansea University
  • M.Sc. Geographical Information Science, University of Leeds (Distinction)
  • B.Sc. Physical Geography, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1st Class Honours)


Nick was educated at the Universities of Newcastle (B.Sc.), Leeds (M.Sc.), and Leeds / Swansea, UK (Ph.D.). His published M.Sc. research investigated spaceborne observation of controls on glacier fast flow (surging) in the Karakoram Himalaya. His Ph.D. research, supervised by Tavi Murray in collaboration with the Norsk Polarinstitutt, continued to employ earth observation and geodetic techniques (digital photogrammetry and airborne laser altimetry), this time in combination with extensive field validation, to investigate mass balance and climate linkages of glaciers in the Norwegian High Arctic (Svalbard). In 2008 he took up the position of Government of Canada International Polar Year Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada, working with Martin Sharp on the sea-level contribution of glaciers in the Yukon, and satellite remote sensing and field validation of glacier change in the Canadian sub-Arctic (Nunatsiavut) and high Arctic (Nunavut). In 2010 he joined the NERC British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK, to work with Richard Hindmarsh and David Vaughan on Antarctic Peninsula ice flow modelling, observation and modelling of Antarctic surface melt dynamics, and mass balance and dynamics of high-latitude glaciers and ice caps. He joined the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham in 2013 and is currently an Associate Professor of Glaciology.


Current Teaching

  • Research Methods and GIS (co-module lead)
  • Environmental Research in High Latitudes (module lead)
  • Swiss Alps Fieldclass
  • Contributions to Fieldwork & Tutorials, Global Environmental Issues, Research Projects

Postgraduate supervision

Excellent and eligible students are encouraged to contact me informally in the first instance, and then to apply for postgraduate research in glaciology and/or remote sensing at the University of Birmingham. Candidates will normally hold relevant masters and first class or equivalent honours degrees in numerate disciplines such as Geophysics, Earth Science, Physical Geography, Physics, Mathematics or Computer Science. Research postgraduate opportunities are advertised on the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) PhD Project webpages, and those of the Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA). Prospective students are also encouraged to contact me to suggest or to develop their own ideas for postgraduate research projects. I am broadly interested in supervision of research projects in the following areas: glacier and ice sheet mass balance, remote sensing of ice flow dynamics, remote sensing of snow and ice melt, ice flow and melt modelling, regional-scale glacier area, volume and velocity change, response of glaciers to climate change, ice shelf processes, the role of glaciers in water security, and environmental and hydrological applications of remote sensing tools, particularly in the polar regions.

Students from the UK and EU are eligible for competitively-funded studentship support from NERC via CENTA, although other options are available. Prospective international students are advised to contact me to discuss relevant funding opportunities.

Current Research Postgraduate Students:
- Xinran Liu (Ph.D. 2023-2027, with J. Larsen, others, UoB)

Former Research Postgraduate Students:
- Marko Closs (Ph.D. 2022) Lead Supervisor. Now pursuing graduate opportunities
- David Clark (M.Sci., 2020), Lead Supervisor. Now pursuing graduate opportunities
- Jonathan Mackay (Ph.D., 2020), Lead Supervisor. Now staff scientist British Geological Survey, UK
- Arie Vatresia (Ph.D., 2018), Co-supervisor. Now Bengkulu University, Indonesia 
- Clemens Schannwell (Ph.D., 2017), Lead Supervisor. Now Max Planck Institute, Germany
- Marit van Tiel (M.Sc., 2016), Co project supervisor. Now ETH Zürich, Switzerland
- Benjamin Man (M.Sci., 2014), Lead Supervisor. Now Open University, UK
- Robert Way (M.Sc., 2013), Co-supervisor. Now Assistant Professor, Queens University, Canada
- Jodie Chadbourn (M.Sc., 2012), Co-supervisor. Now in consultancy, Canada


Glacier and ice sheet mass balance; regional and global sea-level rise

  • Optical and microwave remote sensing of the cryosphere
  • Snow and ice melt modelling, numerical modelling of ice flow and hydrology
  • Arctic, Antarctic and high-mountain climatology
  • Glaciers as water resources and mountain water security
  • Glacial and periglacial hydrology and geomorphology
  • Interdisciplinary downstream impacts of cryosphere change

 Recent Grant Funding

  • Impacts of Cryosphere-Hydrosphere Change on Ecosystems and Livelihoods in northern Nunatsiavut, Canada: IMAGINE.’ (PI), with R. Way (Queens), A. Trant (Waterloo), L. Hermanutz (MUN), A. Currier (Montreal), D. Hannah (Birmingham), J. Ford, D. Quincey (Leeds) Canada-Inuit Nunangat-UK Arctic Research Programme (CINUK) [£801,040].
  •  Challenges to Economic Development Through Hydropower in Central Asia.’ (Co-I), with J. Larsen (PI, Birmingham), R. Day (Co-I, Birmingham) Institute for Global Innovation, UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund [£11,500].
  •  Water Security & Climate Change Adaptation in Peruvian Glacier-Fed Rivers: RAHU.’ (Co-I), with W. Buytaert (PI, Imperial), D. Hannah (Co-I, Birmingham), M. Siegert (Co-I, Imperial) NERC (UK) CONCYTEC (Peru), Newton-Paulet Fund [£498,669].
  •  Isotope Analyses of Glacial & Hydrological Change, Virkisa River, Iceland.’ 2017–2018 (PI), with J. Mackay (Co-I, British Geological Survey), NERC National Isotope Geoscience Facility (NIGF) [in-kind analytical support, £21,000].
  •  Interdisciplinary Modelling of Climate Change in Coastal West Antarctica - Network for Staff Exchange and Training: IMCONet.’ (Co-I), with D. Abele and others (PI, Alfred Wegener Institute), EU Interdisciplinary Research Staff & Exchange Scheme (IRSES) [£665,000].
  •  Arctic Environments: Vulnerabilities and Opportunities: AEVO.’ (Co-I), with K. Arrell and others (PI, Leeds),
  • World Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund [£36,000].


Highlight publications

Schannwell, C, Cornford, S, Pollard, D & Barrand, N 2018, 'Dynamic response of Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet to potential collapse of Larsen C and George VI ice shelves', The Cryosphere, vol. 12, pp. 2307-2326. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-2307-2018

Milner, AM, Khamis, K, Battin, TJ, Brittain, JE, Barrand, NE, Füreder, L, Cauvy-Fraunié, S, Gíslason, GM, Jacobsen, D, Hannah, DM, Hodson, AJ, Hood, E, Lencioni, V, Ólafsson, JS, Robinson, CT, Tranter, M & Brown, LE 2017, 'Glacier shrinkage driving global changes in downstream systems', National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings, vol. 114, no. 37, pp. 9770-9778. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1619807114

Schannwell, C, Barrand, N & Radic, V 2016, 'Future sea-level rise from tidewater and ice-shelf tributary glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 453, pp. 161–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2016.07.054

MacKay, JD, Barrand, N, Hannah, D, Krause, S, Jackson, CR, Everest, J & Aðalgeirsdóttir, G 2018, 'Glacio-hydrological melt and run-off modelling: application of a limits of acceptability framework for model comparison and selection', The Cryosphere, vol. 12, no. 7, pp. 2175-2210. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-2175-2018, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-2175-2018

Recent publications


Drenkhan, F, Buytaert, W, Mackay, JD, Barrand, NE, Hannah, DM & Huggel, C 2022, 'Looking beyond glaciers to understand mountain water security', Nature Sustainability. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-022-00996-4

Ashley, K, McKay, R, Etourneau, J, Jimenez-Espejo, F, Condron, A, Albot, A, Crosta, X, Riesselman, C, Seki, O, Massé, G, Golledge, N, Gasson, E, Lowry, D, Barrand, N, Johnson, K, Bertler, N, Escutia, C, Dunbar, R & Bendle, J 2021, 'Mid-Holocene Antarctic sea-ice increase driven by marine ice sheet retreat', Climate of the Past, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-17-1-2021

Irvine-Fynn, TDL, Bunting, P, Cook, JM, Hubbard, A, Barrand, NE, Hanna, E, Hardy, AJ, Hodson, AJ, Holt, TO, Huss, M, McQuaid, JB, Nilsson, J, Naegeli, K, Roberts, O, Ryan, JC, Tedstone, AJ, Tranter, M & Williamson, CJ 2021, 'Temporal variability of surface reflectance supersedes spatial resolution in defining greenland’s bare-ice albedo', Remote Sensing, vol. 14, no. 1, 62. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14010062

Mackay, JD, Barrand, NE, Hannah, DM, Krause, S, Jackson, CR, Everest, J, MacDonald, AM & Dochartaigh, BÉÓ 2020, 'Proglacial groundwater storage dynamics under climate change and glacier retreat', Hydrological Processes, vol. 34, no. 26, pp. 5456-5473. https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.13961

Mackay, JD, Barrand, NE, Hannah, DM, Krause, S, Jackson, CR, Everest, J, Aðalgeirsdóttir, G & Black, AR 2019, 'Future evolution and uncertainty of river flow regime change in a deglaciating river basin', Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 1833-1865. https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-23-1833-2019

Costi, J, Arigony-Neto, J, Braun, M, Mavlyudov, B, Barrand, NE, Da Silva, AB, Marques, WC & Simoes, JC 2018, 'Estimating surface melt and runoff on the Antarctic Peninsula using ERA-Interim reanalysis data.', Antarctic Science, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 379-393. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954102018000391

Barrand, N, Way, RG, Bell, T & Sharp, MJ 2017, 'Recent changes in area and thickness of Torngat Mountain glaciers (northern Labrador, Canada)', The Cryosphere, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 157-168. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-157-2017

Meredith, MP, Stammerjohn, SE, Venables, HJ, Ducklow, HW, Martinson, DG, Iannuzzi, RA, Leng, MJ, Van Wessem, JM, Reijmer, CH & Barrand, NE 2016, 'Changing distributions of sea ice melt and meteoric water west of the Antarctic Peninsula', Deep-Sea Research. Part 2: Topical Studies in Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.04.019

van Wessem, JM, Ligtenberg, SRM, Reijmer, CH, van de Berg, WJ, van den Broeke, MR, Barrand, NE, Thomas, ER, Turner, J, Wuite, J, Scambos, TA & van Meijgaard, E 2016, 'The modelled surface mass balance of the Antarctic Peninsula at 5.5 km horizontal resolution', Cryosphere, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 271-285. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-271-2016

Way, RG, Bell, TJ & Barrand, NE 2015, 'Glacier change from the little Ice Age to present in the Torngat Mountains, northern Labrador, Canada', Geomorphology, vol. 246, pp. 559-569. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.07.006

Schannwell, C, Barrand, NE & Radic, V 2015, 'Modeling ice dynamic contributions to sea level rise from the Antarctic Peninsula.', Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 120, no. 11, pp. 2374-2392. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015JF003667

van Wessem, JM, Ligtenberg, SRM, Reijmer, CH, van de Berg, WJ, van den Broeke, MR, Thomas, ER, Barrand, NE, Turner, J, Wuite, J, Scambos, TA & van Meijgaard, E 2015, 'The modelled surface mass balance of the Antarctic Peninsula at 5.5 km horizontal resolution.', The Cryosphere, vol. 9, pp. 5097-5136. https://doi.org/10.5194/tcd-9-5097-2015

Way, RG, Bell, T & Barrand, NE 2014, 'An inventory and topographic analysis of glaciers in the Torngat Mountains, northern Labrador, Canada', Journal of Glaciology, vol. 60, no. 223, pp. 945-956. https://doi.org/10.3189/2014JoG13J195


Barrand, N 2020 'Mid-Holocene Antarctic sea-ice increase driven by marine ice sheet retreat'. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-3

Barrand, NE, Way, RG, Bell, T & Sharp, MJ 2016 'Recent changes in area and thickness of Torngat Mountain glaciers (northern Labrador, Canada)'. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-171

View all publications in research portal