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Dr Ian Willis


Subject: Geography

Glaciologist with interests in the meteorology, thermal regime, mass balance, hydrology and dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets. Current and recent areas of research include: Antarctic ice-shelf hydrology, instability and break-up; Meteorology, debris cover and surface hydrology of Himalayan glaciers; Surface and basal hydrology of the Greenland Ice Sheet; Semi-automated mapping of glacial landforms; Surface characteristics and mass balance of Icelandic ice caps; Mass balance of Svalbard glaciers.
Dr Stuart Cousens Fellow in Geography
University Senior Lecturer in Geography

Dr Ian Willis is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Cambridge and is interested in the physical processes occurring at the Earth’s surface, the landforms and sediments that result, how these have changed in the past, and how they will change in the future. He is a glaciologist, and is therefore particularly interested in the World’s ice masses; their meteorology (the weather above them), their hydrology (the water on, within and beneath them), their dynamics (what makes them move), their mass balance (whether they are growing or shrinking), and much more! He currently has research projects in Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard and Nepal. At the Department of Geography he teaches first year Physical Geography (Environmental Change during the Quaternary), first year Skills and Methods (Cartography and GIS), second year Glacial Processes, and third year Glacial Environments. He runs the Department’s undergraduate residential field trip to Switzerland. He also teaches on the MPhil in Polar Studies at the Scott Polar Research Institute and supervises several PhD students. He is on the Council of the International Glaciological Society.


1985-1986: Research Assistant, Department of Geography, Polytechnic of North London
1989-1994: Assistant Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
1994-2002: Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
2002-2019: Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
2019-now: Reader, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Visiting Fellowships

1995-1997: Visiting Scholar, QRC, University of Washington, Washington, USA (while on leave from Cambridge)
2003-2004: Visiting Academic, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (while on leave from Cambridge)
2018-2019: Visiting Fellow, CIRES, University of Boulder, Colorado, USA (while on leave from Cambridge)

Williamson, A.G., Banwell, A.F., Willis, I.C. and Arnold, N.S., 2018. Dual-satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) remote sensing of supraglacial lakes in Greenland. Cryosphere, v. 12, p.3045-3065. doi:10.5194/tc-12-3045-2018.

Miles, E.S., Willis, I., Buri, P., Steiner, J.F., Arnold, N.S. and Pellicciotti, F., 2018. Surface Pond Energy Absorption Across Four Himalayan Glaciers Accounts for 1/8 of Total Catchment Ice Loss. Geophys Res Lett, v. 45, p.10464-10473. doi:10.1029/2018GL079678.

CHUDLEY, T.R. and WILLIS, I.C., 2019. Glacier surges in the north-west West Kunlun Shan inferred from 1972 to 2017 Landsat imagery. Journal of Glaciology, v. 65, p.1-12. doi:10.1017/jog.2018.94.

Banwell, A.F., Willis, I.C., Macdonald, G.J., Goodsell, B. and MacAyeal, D.R., 2019. Direct measurements of ice-shelf flexure caused by surface meltwater ponding and drainage. Nat Commun, v. 10, p.730-. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-08522-5.

Dell, R., Arnold, N., Willis, I., Banwell, A., Williamson, A., Pritchard, H. and Orr, A., 2020. Lateral meltwater transfer across an Antarctic ice shelf. The Cryosphere, v. 14, p.2313-2330. doi:10.5194/tc-14-2313-2020.