Richard Selwyn Jones
Phone: 04 463 5233 x 6477
Office: CO 510
BSc (Hons) Gloucestershire (2008);
MSc London (2009)
PhD Candidate in Antarctic Glacial Geology
Dynamics of outlet glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains since the Last Glacial Maximum
Project Aim and Description
My research project investigates the glacial history and behaviour of outlet glaciers in Antarctica and how they respond to potential forcing mechanisms. The configuration of Antarctic ice sheets is inherently linked to changes in climate and the encircling oceans. Quantifying the changes that occurred in the ice sheet since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) is therefore vital for understanding the long-term drivers of ice sheet changes.
- Geological evidence for past ice sheet thickness is sparse. Numerical models currently over-estimate empirically-defined evidence in the Transantarctic Mountains at the LGM.
- Few detailed chronologies of outlet glacier fluctuations exist in the Ross Sea region, and this limits our ability to reconstruct the vertical and horizontal ice extent at the LGM and the rate of deglaciation.
- We do not currently understand what caused the Antarctic ice sheet to retreat in the manner it did. Oceanic warming and rising sea level are the most likely candidates. It is also unclear, as to whether the Antarctic ice sheet retreated in response to Meltwater Pulse 1a, or was a source of this dramatic sea level rise.
To tackle these issues my research focuses on mapping and dating glacial deposits at the Skelton and Mackay glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains. An essential analytical technique in Antarctica is cosmogenic nuclide dating, which allows us to measure how long ago glacially-deposited boulders were left behind by the thinning ice sheet. Thereafter we can establish the vertical and horizontal extent of the ice sheet in the region at different points in time. In order to understand how the glaciers responded to external forcing and what mechanism triggered these changes, time-dependent model simulations will be conducted. Transient simulations from the LGM will be constrained by the thinning chronology and forced with climatic (temperature at sea level, precipitation at sea level and precipitation lapse rate) and oceanic (sea level elevation, ocean temperature and calving rate) variables.
Beyond my PhD research I try to engage the wider public in Antarctica and climate-related science. I share my Antarctic experiences through an online blog and at events like the New Zealand IceFest. I am also co-founder of Climatica – a new climate science-public interaction initiative, which offers short articles about climate change and the Earth system, written by scientific experts.
Mackintosh, A.N., Verleyen, E., O'Brien, P.E., White, D.A., Jones, R.S., McKay, R., Dunbar, R., Gore, D.B., Fink, D., Post, A.L., Miura, H., Leventer, A., Godwin, I., Hodgson, D.A., Lilly, K., Crosta, X., Golledge, N.R., Wagner, B., Berg, S., van Ommen, T., Zwartz, D., Roberts, S.J., Vyverman, W., Masse, G., (2013). Retreat history of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.07.024
Jones, R.S., Mackintosh, A.N., Norton, K.P., Golledge, N.R. (2013, February).The glaciology of a Transantarctic Mountains outlet glacier – implications for cosmogenic nuclide dating. Paper presented at the meeting of Snow and Ice Research Group, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Jones, R.S., Mackintosh, A.N., Norton, K.P., Golledge, N.R. (2013, February). The glaciology of a Transantarctic Mountains outlet glacier – implications for cosmogenic nuclide dating. Paper presented at the meeting of Joint Antarctic Research Institute – Past Antarctic Climate Symposium, GNS Science Lower Hutt, New Zealand.
Jones, R.S., Mackintosh, A.N., Norton, K.P., Golledge, N.R. & Fogwill, C. (2013, June). Glacial history of Mackay Glacier, Transantarctic Mountains: chronology of thinning to the present day. Poster presented at the meeting of Strategic Science in Antarctica, Hobart, Australia.