Antarctic Research Centre

Dr Nick Golledge

Senior Research Fellow
Antarctic Research Centre

Phone: 04 463 9592
Location: Room 509, Cotton Building, Gate 7, Kelburn Parade, Kelburn Campus

Dr Nick Golledge


BSc Aberdeen (1996); PhD Edinburgh (2008)


From originally specialising for over a decade in glacial geology and ice-sheet reconstructions in the Northern Hemisphere, my interest has, since 2004, leaned more towards the use of ice-sheet models to gain a more complete (and often more physically robust) understanding of glacial systems. Presently I spend more time modelling than mapping, but increasingly value the combination of empirical observations with numerical models that are underpinned by well-constrained physics.

Research Projects

The focus of my research is the application of numerical models to simulating glacial systems in a way that is useful for the interpretation of geological data. Since 2009 I have been using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (University of Alaska, Fairbanks) to model the extent and dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheets both at present and at the Last Glacial Maximum. Using parallelised source code on supercomputer and high-performance cluster architectures means that I can run dynamic simulations at higher resolutions than serial models, which gives a level of detail that is essential for comparison to geological records. I have also used this approach to simulate glaciation of the New Zealand Southern Alps, from which we can better constrain the likely magnitude of atmospheric cooling that took place during the last glacial.

For smaller-scale studies or to address more specific research questions, I write numerical models to simulate, for example, the behaviour of valley glaciers under different environmental boundary conditions (such as alternating glacial-interglacial episodes of the Plio-Pleistocene), or the dispersal pattern of wind-blown sediment across Antarctic sea-ice. These models are guided and constrained by empirical data, and are intended to simulate Earth systems in a way that enables process ideas to be tested and geological interpretations to be evaluated. 

I also undertake glaciological fieldwork in Antarctica, acquiring GPS-derived velocity and tidal flexure data as well as ground-based radar to constrain numerical models of outlet glaciers. Currently we are focusing on glaciers of the Transantarctic Mountains, and over the last couple of years have collected data from Beardmore Glacier (84oS) and Skelton Glacier (78.5oS).