Dr Darrel Swift
Department of Geography
Senior Lecturer in Geoscience
Director of Postgraduate Research
+44 114 222 7959
Full contact details
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Darrel joined the department in December 2006 as Lecturer in Geoscience. He was awarded a PhD by the University of Glasgow in 2002 and afterwards held a prestigious BP Royal Society of Edinburgh Personal Research Fellowship at the University of Glasgow between 2003 and 2006. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Geoscience in January 2018.
Darrel is currently an Associate Editor for Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography and is a member of the International Glaciological Society and the European Geophysical Society. In addition he currently acts as an advisor to Nagra (the Swiss National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste) on issues of glacial erosion.
His past internal responsibilities have included Deputy Director of Teaching and Learning, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Director of the MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change Programme. He has received several outstanding contribution awards, including a Faculty award for Sustained Excellence in January 2011 and two further awards In 2014 and 2016.
- Research interests
Darrel’s interests focus on glacial processes in high-latitude and high-elevation landscapes. These processes have played a critical role in the long-term evolution of Earth’s climate and evolution of such landscapes as a result of glacial erosion and incision further affects the behaviour of Earth’s glaciers and ice sheets.
His interests are focussed into several strands that span contemporary glaciology and the long-term erosion and evolution of such landscapes, including: the processes of glacial erosion and sediment transfer through glacial systems; the subglacial hydrology and flow dynamics of contemporary glaciers; and the tectonic and climatic controls on the evolution of alpine and passive margin environments.
Darrel’s current research focuses on sediment transfer by glaciers in Iceland and the European Alps, the influence of bed topography on subglacial hydrology and flow dynamics of mountain glaciers and ice sheet outlet glaciers, and the morphology and formation of subglacial overdeepenings.
Current and Recent PhD students
Andrew Jones. Topic: Influence of bed topography on the dynamics of outlet glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Will Higson. Topic: Influence of bed topography on the dynamics of mountain glaciers in the Swiss Alps.
James Douglas. Topic: Future retreat of glaciers in the European Alps and the Himalaya and the implications for changes in water resources.
Sean Gilgannon. Topic: Morphological analysis of the origin of overdeepened glacial valleys of the Northern Swiss Alpine Foreland (NERC CASE project; CASE partner: Swiss National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste).
Vaibhav Kaul. Topic: Understanding and enhancing the adaptation and resilience of remote high-altitude Himalayan communities to hydrometeorological extremes and associated geophysical hazards in a changing climate.
Oniya Ifeanyi. Topic: Sources of dust in high-latitude proglacial environments.
- The hydrology of glacier‐bed overdeepenings: Sediment transport mechanics, drainage system morphology, and geomorphological implications. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 46(11), 2264-2278. View this article in WRRO
- Using climate reanalysis data in conjunction with multi-temporal satellite thermal imagery to derive supraglacial debris thickness changes from energy-balance modelling. Journal of Glaciology, 67(262), 366-384. View this article in WRRO
- The empirical basis for modelling glacial erosion rates. Nature Communications, 11(1). View this article in WRRO
- Proglacial icings as indicators of glacier thermal regime: ice thickness changes and icing occurrence in Svalbard. Geografiska Annaler Series A: Physical Geography, 101(4), 334-349. View this article in WRRO
- Going against the flow: Testing the hypothesis of pulsed axial glacier flow. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 43(13), 2754-2761. View this article in WRRO
- Can glacial shearing of sediment reset the signal used for luminescence dating?. Geomorphology, 306, 90-101. View this article in WRRO
- Terminal zone glacial sediment transfer at a temperate overdeepened glacier system. Quaternary Science Reviews, 180, 111-131. View this article in WRRO
- Geomorphological investigation of multiphase glacitectonic composite ridge systems in Svalbard. Geomorphology, 300, 176-188. View this article in WRRO
- Distribution and characteristics of overdeepenings beneath the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets: Implications for overdeepening origin and evolution. Quaternary Science Reviews, 148, 128-145. View this article in WRRO
- Automated mapping of glacial overdeepenings beneath contemporary ice sheets: Approaches and potential applications. Geomorphology, 232, 209-223. View this article in WRRO
- Geomorphology: Antarctica's lost landscape. Nature Geoscience, 6(3), 162-163.
- Subglacial basins: Their origin and importance in glacial systems and landscapes. Earth-Science Reviews, 115(4), 332-372. View this article in WRRO
- The overdeepened glacier landsystem: a new landsystem model based on observations from southeast Iceland. Quaternary International, 279-280, 479-480.
- Do glaciers reset their beds? Investigating the effects of glacial shearing on the luminescence of sediment. Quaternary International, 279-280, 480-480.
- Theoretical framework and diagnostic criteria for the identification of palaeo-subglacial lakes. Quaternary Science Reviews, 53(C), 88-110. View this article in WRRO
- Investigating the effects of glacial shearing of sediment on luminescence. Quaternary Geochronology, 10, 230-236.
- Anomalous luminescence of subglacial sediment at Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland - a consequence of resetting at the glacier bed?. Boreas, 40(3), 446-458. View this article in WRRO
- Origin and significance of 'dispersed facies' basal ice: Svínafellsjökull, Iceland. Journal of Glaciology, 57(204), 710-720.
- Sedimentary signatures of basal ice formation and their preservation in ice-marginal sediments. Geomorphology.
- Glacial landscape evolution - Implications for glacial processes, patterns and reconstructions. Geomorphology, 97(1-2), 1-4.
- A reassessment of the role of ice sheet glaciation in the long-term evolution of the East Greenland fjord region. Geomorphology, 97(1-2), 109-125.
- Transverse englacial debris-rich ice bands at Kvíárjökull, southeast Iceland. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25(13-14), 1708-1718.
- Seasonal evolution of runoff from Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland and implications for glacial geomorphic processes. Journal of Hydrology, 309(1-4), 133-148.
- Basal sediment evacuation by subglacial meltwater: Suspended sediment transport from Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 30(7), 867-883.
- Geomorphic implications of subglacial drainage configuration: Rates of basal sediment evacuation controlled by seasonal drainage system evolution. Sedimentary Geology, 149(1-3), 5-19.
- The effect of valley confluence and bedrock geology upon the location and depth of glacial overdeepenings. Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography, 1-26.
- Generating synthetic fjord bathymetry for coastal Greenland. View this article in WRRO
- Incorporating Distributed Debris Thickness in a Glacio-Hydrological Model: Khumbu Himalaya, Nepal. View this article in WRRO
- Ice and snow as land-forming agents, Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks, and Disasters (pp. 165-198). Elsevier
- Glaciological processes associated with the terminal overdeepening at Svinafellsjökull In Evans DJA (Ed.), Glacial Landsystems of Southeast Iceland - Quaternary Applications London: Quaternary Research Association.
- Ice and Snow as Land-Forming Agents, Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks and Disasters (pp. 167-199). Elsevier
- Ice and Snow as Land-Forming Agents, Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks, and Disasters (pp. 167-199).
- Ogive (Glacial), Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms (pp. 1-4). Springer New York
- Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland: Hydrological Controls on Basal Sediment Evacuation and Glacial Erosion, Glacier Science and Environmental Change (pp. 23-25). Blackwell Publishing
- Ogive (Glacial). In Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms Springer New York.
- Basal Sediment Evacuation by Subglacial Drainage Systems. In Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series Springer Netherlands.
- Diurnal Cycle of Runoff. In Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series Springer Netherlands.
- Teaching interests
Darrel’s undergraduate teaching is strongly research-led and focusses on his research interests in glaciology and glacial geomorphology. Darrel also co-leads a Level 2 research design module that is core for all programmes. This module guides students through the selection and design of a research idea that they then undertake for their Level 3 dissertation.
Darrel also supervises masters’-level research projects in glaciology and landscape evolution, and he is a former director of the MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change Programme.
- Teaching activities
Darrel currently teaches on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses including GEO248 Research Design for Geography and Environmental Science and GEO268 Glacial Environments, as well as supervising of undergraduate dissertation projects.