Dr Caroline Clason
Lecturer in Physical Geography
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University (2012-2016)
Visiting Researcher, Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada (2010-2011)
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), University of Plymouth, 2017
PhD, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, UK (2008-2012) "Quantitative controls on the routing of supraglacial meltwater to the bed of glaciers and ice sheets"
1st class BSc (Hons) Geography and Environmental Science, University of Dundee, UK (2004-2008)
• The role of meltwater in the dynamics and stability of ice sheets
Fallout radionuclides (FRNs) and other anthropogenic contaminants are transported in the atmosphere and subsequently deposited on and stored within glaciers. In response to changes in climate and associated glacier retreat, these contaminants can be released from glaciers into downstream catchments decades after the original source of contamination was active. Furthermore, interaction with an ice surface material called ‘cryoconite’ can lead to accumulation of contaminants, resulting in enhanced and potentially harmful concentrations. Very little research has been conducted to date on FRNs in glacier catchments; our work aims to fill geographical gaps in knowledge of FRNs in the global cryosphere and collaborate with the wider research community to assess potential impact on the downstream environment and the populations reliant upon glacier-fed waters for drinking water, grazing and irrigation. I have conducted field campaigns in Sweden and Iceland in support of this research, with cryoconite and sediment samples collected in these locations analysed for the presence of radioactive materials and heavy metals at the University of Plymouth Consolidated Radio-isotope Facility (CoRIF).
A new international network of researchers in the fields of glaciology, environmental radioactivity and biogeochemistry has recently been developed, with an aim to build a spatial database for FRNs in glacial environments globally and better understand the physical processes resulting in accumulation of FRNs on glaciers. If you would like to contribute to this project then please contact me.
The hydrology and dynamics of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet
Main collaborators: Sarah Greenwood, Per Holmlund, Martin Jakobsson (Stockholm University) and Johan Nyberg (Geological Survey of Sweden)
This research is focussed on developing an improved understanding of the retreat and dynamics of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet during the Late Weichselian. I have a specific interest in the Baltic and Bothnian sea areas, and a combined modelling/geomorphology approach has been applied to help better constrain past ice stream activity in this region, including investigating the controls on grounding line stability and flow dynamics, and the role of atmospheric warming and meltwater production in driving ice retreat. Mapping of high-resolution bathymetric data provides an incredibly well-preserved insight into the subglacial environment in this area, from which we hope to better understand contemporary glacial processes in other regions. This work thus contributes to improving our understanding of both present day and palaeo ice sheets, and provides a unique perspective on marine-terminating ice streams and possibilities for rapid retreat.
Hydrocarbon pollution on Rabots Glacier, Kebnekaise, Northern Sweden
Main collaborators: Gunhild Rosqvist and Jerker Jarsjö (Stockholm University)
In March 2012 a Royal Norwegian Air Force Hercules plane crashed just below the summit of Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain, depositing much of the wreckage and fuel onto Rabots Glacier. Through an ongoing monitoring programme we are investigating the transit pathways and likely lifetime of hydrocarbons within the glacier catchment. This includes how the pollutants behave in the snowpack, the use of dye tracers to investigate the transport pathways for pollution from the source zone to downstream, and detection of pollution in the proglacial environment where it enters a river catchment used for drinking water by both animals and humans.
Research degrees awarded to supervised students
Grants & contracts
RGS Environment and Sustainability Research Grant: £15000 to support work on “Release of legacy fallout radionuclides from retreating glaciers: co-producing ‘risk maps’ with the Sami to inform adaptations to an emerging threat in Arctic Sweden”. University of Plymouth, 2018 (co P.I.)
Everett, A., Murray, T., Selmes, N., Rutt, I., Luckman, A., James, T.D., Clason, C.C., O’Leary, M., Karunarathna, H., Moloney, V. & Reeve, D., (2016), Annual down‐glacier drainage of lakes and water‐filled crevasses at Helheim Glacier, south east Greenland, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 121, 1819–1833
Greenwood, S.L., Clason, C.C., Helanow, C. & Margold, M., (2016), Theoretical, contemporary observational and palaeo perspectives on ice sheet hydrology: processes and products, Earth-Science Reviews, 155, 1-27
Greenwood, S.L., Clason, C.C., Mikko, H., Nyberg, J., Peterson, G. & Smith, C.A., (2015), Integrated use of LiDAR and multibeam bathymetry reveals onset of ice streaming in the northern Bothnian Sea, GFF, DOI:10.1080/11035897.2015.1055513
Clason, C.C., Coch, C., Jarsjö, J., Brugger, K., Jansson, P., & Rosqvist, G., (2015), Dye tracing to determine flow properties of hydrocarbon-polluted Rabots Glaciär, Kebnekaise, Sweden, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 19, 2701-2715
Clason, C.C., Mair, D.W.F., Nienow, P.W., Bartholomew, I.D., Sole, A., Palmer, S. & Schwanghart, W., (2015), Modelling the transfer of supraglacial meltwater to the bed of Leverett Glacier, Southwest Greenland, The Cryosphere, 9, 123-138
Clason, C.C., Applegate, P. & Holmlund, P., (2014), Modelling Late Weichselian evolution of the Eurasian ice sheets forced by surface meltwater-enhanced basal sliding, Journal of Glaciology, 60 (219), 29-40
Clason, C.C., Mair, D.W.F., Burgess, D.O. & Nienow, P.W., (2012), Modelling the delivery of supraglacial meltwater to the ice/bed interface: application to the southwest Devon Ice Cap, Nunavut, Canada, Journal of Glaciology, 58 (208), 361-374
Clason, C.C., (2012), Quantitative controls on the routing of supraglacial meltwater to the bed of glaciers and ice sheets, PhD thesis - University of Aberdeen
Personal blog: https://meltingplanet.org/