Bryn Hubbard - Polar Medal 2016



Hubbard borehole 1

Bryn Hubbard


Professor Bryn Pugh Hubbard was awarded a Polar Medal in 2016 'for outstanding achievement and service to the United Kingdom in the field of polar research' as a 'Polar Scholar in Glaciology, Glacial Geology and the Structure and Motion of ice masses'.


Professor Bryn Hubbard was born and raised near Aberystwyth. His interest in glaciology developed during his time at Oxford University where he was awarded a first-class Honours degree in Geography, before going on the Cambridge University where he completed a PhD in glacier movement.

After a further two years studying Alpine glacier hydrology at Cambridge, Bryn joined Aberystwyth University in 1994 as a lecturer in the then newly-established Centre for Glaciology. He was appointed Director of the Centre for Glaciology in 2010 and a professorship in 2011, and is currently Director of Research for the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences and the Institute of Geography, History, Politics and Psychology. 

His research interests focus primarily on field-based measurements of glacial processes and forms, work which takes him to many of the world’s most scenic - but generally cold - environments. These include AntarcticaGreenland, Arctic Canada, Svalbard, Norway, Peru, and the European Alps. Field data collected at glaciers and larger ice masses at these locations have generally been used to improve and guide numerical, computer-based models of the response of these ice masses to current and anticipated future climate change, helping policymakers decide and implement response strategies. He also studies Glaciers on Mars!

His current research projects take him to Greenland during the summer and Antarctica during the (northern hemisphere) winter. In Greenland his work involves drilling 650 m-long Boreholes from the surface to the bed of a fast-moving glacier that terminates in the ocean, installing various experiments to reveal physical coupling between such a rapidly-moving ice mass and its substrate. In Antarctica he has recently spent nine weeks camping in traditional ‘Scott’ tents on the Larsen C ice shelf, a floating mass of ice several hundreds of metres thick and about 2½ times the size of Wales. Here, he has been drilling boreholes to investigate the influence of surface meltwater ponds that form intermittently during the warm summer months on the internal structure of the ice shelf. The consequence of these ponds is to accelerate quite dramatically the rate of formation of dense ice from fresh snow, increasing both the density and temperature of the interior of the ice shelf, a process that is likely to become increasingly important in a warming climate - and the Antarctic Peninsula is warming at one of the most rapid rates on our planet.

Other glaciologists with links to Aberystwyth University who have been awarded the Polar Medal are Professor Michael Hambrey, former director of the Centre for Glaciology, and Professor Julian Dowdeswell, former Head of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences.

 Hubbard borehole 2 Greenland Ice