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Dr Phil Porter - University Alliance. Hatfield, England, GB

Dr Phil Porter

Reader in Geoscience and Geoscience Education | University Alliance

Hatfield, England, UNITED KINGDOM

Phil studies the response of glaciers to a warming world. He’s led expeditions to some of the last true wilderness areas on our planet.

Areas of Expertise (6)


Global Warming



Ice Sheets



Dr Phil Porter is Reader in Geoscience and Geoscience Education in the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire. He is a glacier scientist and has led and participated in numerous scientific expeditions to some of the last true wilderness areas on our planet - locations raging from the frozen wastes of the High-Arctic to the high peaks of the Himalaya. Phil‘s scientific work focuses on the response of glaciers to a warming world and, in particular, the impacts of warming on meltwater production and delivery.

Phil’s doctorate examined why some glaciers periodically move at high speeds (a process known as ‘surging’). This research entailed High-Arctic fieldwork totalling almost four months in duration and camping on the ice surface for that period. He is a British Science Association Media Fellow, has worked in the BBC Radio Science Unit, appeared on television, radio and in the written press.

Media Mentions (3)

Joining the dots between climate change and air quality

Air Quality News  online


In terms of the perennial ‘chicken versus egg’ debate, Dr Philip Porter, a reader in Geoscience at the University of Hertfordshire says he believes air pollution likely came first. ‘You can argue that air pollution came first, but as with many aspects of environmental systems it’s never quite as simple as this,’ says Dr Porter.

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Making the UK's dams safe, AI spots fake smiles, How many trees should we be planting?

BBC Inside Science  online


In the light of the evacuation of the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge due to damage to the Todbrook reservoir dam and the threat of a catastrophic collapse, questions inevitably arise as to how ‘future proofed’ UK dams are?

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The snowball effect of Arctic fires

BBC Science in Action  online


Wildfires are an annual phenomenon across the arctic region, but this year they are far more intense than usual, we look at the drivers for these extreme fires and the consequences, in particular long term environmental change across the region.

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Multimedia Appearances





Geography and Environment - Taster Lecture Celebrating World Earth Day 2020 Phil Porter



Education (2)

University of Leeds: Ph.D., Geography 1997

University of Sheffield: B.A., Physical Geography 1991

Affiliations (6)

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
  • Member of the Royal Geographical Society Accreditation Panel
  • British Society for Geomorphology
  • International Glaciological Society
  • American Geophysical Union

Event Appearances (3)

The Shrinking Glaciers of Everest

Royal Society Manchester Science Festival  2016

The Shrinking Glaciers of Everest

Royal Society Summer Science Festival  2015

Monitoring ablation and meltwater production from a debris-covered glacier in Nepal

International Glaciological Society, International Symposium on Glaciology in High-Mountain Asia  2015

Articles (5)

Glacial Sediment Stores and Their Reworking

Geomorphology of Proglacial Systems

2019 In the light of heightened geomorphological activity associated with progressive deglaciation in alpine regions, the storage of sediments within and flux of sediments through the proglacial zone represents an increasingly important area for contemporary geomorphological and sedimentological study.

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Open-source Telemetry Instrumentation for Networked and Real-time Glacier Monitoring


2018 In-situ glacier monitoring efforts typically involve periodic acquisitions of data, at time intervals limited to when field sites can be accessed to retrieve and collect data. Although commercial satellite communication technologies can be implemented to transmit data back at periodic intervals, the increased cost of instrumentation and subscription services places such technology out of reach in many applications.

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On the verge of a surge; Kongsvegen, northwestern Svalbard.

AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts

2018 Surge-type glaciers switch regularly between slow and fast modes of flow, with surge-phase velocities that are typically 2-3 orders of magnitude higher than those in the longer quiescent phase. Surging arguably represents an extreme case of a glacier dynamic instability.

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Near‐surface hydraulic conductivity of northern hemisphere glaciers

Hydrological Processes

2018 The hydrology of near‐surface glacier ice remains a neglected aspect of glacier hydrology despite its role in modulating meltwater delivery to downstream environments. To elucidate the hydrological characteristics of this near‐surface glacial weathering crust, we describe the design and operation of a capacitance‐based piezometer that enables rapid, economical deployment across multiple sites and provides an accurate, high‐resolution record of near‐surface water‐level fluctuations.

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Assessing the applicability of terrestrial laser scanning for mapping englacial conduits

Journal of Glaciology

2018 The morphology of englacial drainage networks and their temporal evolution are poorly characterised, particularly within cold ice masses. At present, direct observations of englacial channels are restricted in both spatial and temporal resolution. Through novel use of a terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) system, the interior geometry of an englacial channel in Austre Brøggerbreen, Svalbard, was reconstructed and mapped.

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