Dr Felix Ng
Department of Geography
Reader in Theoretical Glaciology
+44 114 222 7949
Full contact details
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Felix grew up in Hong Kong and attended middle school in the UK. After graduating in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford in 1994, he moved to the Mathematical Institute there to study the doctoral degree, completing his DPhil thesis on mathematical glaciology in 1998.
Felix then gained a Junior Research Fellowship at St. John's College. He lived in Oxford until 2002 but spent 2001 visiting the University of Washington, Seattle, as Royal-Society/Fulbright postdoctoral fellow.
From 2003 to 2005, Felix was the Leavitt Research Fellow in Geosciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He was appointed as Lecturer in Glaciology at The University of Sheffield in 2005, and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2012, and Reader in January 2018.
In 2017, Felix visited the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand as William Evans Visiting Fellow to collaborate with glaciologists there.
He was awarded the Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship for the 2017-18 academic year.
Fieldwork and short visits with collaborators have taken Felix to Iceland, the Alps, West Antarctica, and Central Asia.
In 1999 he accompanied Robert Hoyland in his archaeological expedition to Syria where we hunted for early-Islamic Safaitic inscriptions in the desert (no ice there!).
Other interests: mountaineering and exploration, Central Asian culture and history, horse-riding.
- Research interests
- Large-scale behaviour of glaciers and ice sheets, and their environmental interactions
- Mathematical models of glacial processes and landforms
- Polar ice on Mars
My research is centred around glaciology, and concentrates on three areas:
- Ice dynamics
- Glacier hydrology
- Glacial geomorphology
- Glaciers and Ice Sheets in the Climate System. Springer International Publishing.
- A quasi-annual record of time-transgressive esker formation : implications for ice-sheet reconstruction and subglacial hydrology. The Cryosphere, 14(6), 1989-2004. View this article in WRRO
- Polyphase mid-latitude glaciation on Mars: chronology of the formation of superposed glacier-like forms from crater-count dating. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 125(2). View this article in WRRO
- Creating HiRISE digital elevation models for Mars using the open-source ames stereo pipeline. Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems, 8(2), 293-313. View this article in WRRO
- An Automated Method for Mapping Geomorphological Expressions of Former Subglacial Meltwater Pathways (Hummock Corridors) From High Resolution Digital Elevation Data. Geomorphology. View this article in WRRO
- Response of surface topography to basal variability along glacial flowlines. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123(10), 2319-2340. View this article in WRRO
- Differential Geometry of Ice Flow. Frontiers in Earth Science, 6. View this article in WRRO
- Reconstructing ice-flow fields from streamlined subglacial bedforms: a kriging approach. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. View this article in WRRO
- Greenland Ice Sheet surface topography and drainage structure controlled by the transfer of basal variability. Frontiers in Earth Science Cryospheric sciences, 6. View this article in WRRO
- Ice-Dammed Lake Drainage Evolution at Russell Glacier, West Greenland. Frontiers in Earth Science, 5, 1-16. View this article in WRRO
- Actively evolving subglacial conduits and eskers initiate ice shelf channels at an Antarctic grounding line. Nature Communications, 8. View this article in WRRO
- Insights on the formation of longitudinal surface structures on ice sheets from analysis of their spacing, spatial distribution, and relationship to ice thickness and flow. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. View this article in WRRO
- Remote-sensing-based analysis of the 1996 surge of Northern Inylchek Glacier, central Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan. Geomorphology, 273, 292-307. View this article in WRRO
- Statistical mechanics of normal grain growth in one dimension: A partial integro-differential equation model. Acta Materialia, 120, 453-462. View this article in WRRO
- Spatial complexity of ice flow across the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Nature Geoscience, 8(11), 847-850. View this article in WRRO
- Modelling channelized surface drainage of supraglacial lakes. Journal of Glaciology, 61(225), 185-199. View this article in WRRO
- A model of crystal-size evolution in polar ice masses. Journal of Glaciology, 60(221), 463-477. View this article in WRRO
- Formation of RADARSAT backscatter feature and undulating firn stratigraphy at an ice-stream margin. Annals of Glaciology, 54(64), 90-96. View this article in WRRO
- Modelling the coupling of flood discharge with glacier flow during jökulhlaups. Annals of Glaciology, 54(63), 25-31. View this article in WRRO
- Quantifying the predictability of the timing of jökulhlaups from Merzbacher Lake, Kyrgyzstan. Journal of Glaciology, 59(217), 805-818. View this article in WRRO
- An extended "perfect-plasticity" method for estimating ice thickness along the flow line of mountain glaciers. Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface, 117(1).
- An extended "perfect-plasticity" method for estimating ice thickness along the flow line of mountain glaciers. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 117(1).
- Kinematic waves in polar-firn stratigraphy. Journal of Glaciology, 57(206), 1119-1134. View this article in WRRO
- Ice-marginal sediment delivery to the surface of a high-arctic glacier: Austre brøggerbreen, svalbard. Geografiska Annaler, Series A: Physical Geography, 92(4), 437-449.
- Using the surface profiles of modern ice masses to inform palaeo-glacier reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews, 29(23-24), 3240-3255. View this article in WRRO
- Size and shape characteristics of drumlins, derived from a large sample, and associated scaling laws. QUATERNARY SCI REV, 28(7-8), 677-692.
- Temporal dynamics of a jökulhlaup system. Journal of Glaciology, 55(192), 1-15. View this article in WRRO
- A glacier respires: Quantifying the distribution and respiration CO2flux of cryoconite across an entire Arctic supraglacial ecosystem. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 112(G4), n/a-n/a. View this article in WRRO
- Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance 1935: 'The Forgotten Adventure' - by Tony Astill. The Geographical Journal, 172(4), 351-351.
- Patterning instability on the Mars polar ice caps. Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets, 111(2). View this article in WRRO
- Fast-growing till over ancient ice in Beacon Valley, Antarctica. Geology, 33(2), 121-121. View this article in WRRO
- Fast-flow signature in the stagnated Kamb Ice Stream, West Antarctica. Geology, 32(6), 481-481. View this article in WRRO
- On the Clague–Mathews relation for jökulhlaups. Journal of Glaciology, 49(165), 161-172.
- Patterning mechanisms in subglacial carbonate dissolution and deposition. Journal of Glaciology, 48(162), 386-400.
- Thermally controlled glacier surging. Journal of Glaciology, 47(159), 527-538.
- A. Post and E. R. Lachapelle. 1999. Glacier ice. Revised edition. Seattle, WA, University of Washington Press, in association with International Glaciological Society, Cambridge, England. 144 pp. ISBN 0-295-97910-0, paperback. $27.95.. Journal of Glaciology, 46(155), 700-700.
- Coupled ice–till deformation near subglacial channels and cavities. Journal of Glaciology, 46(155), 580-598.
- Canals under sediment-based ice sheets. Annals of Glaciology, 30, 146-152.
- The role of sediment transport in the mechanics of jökulhlaups. Annals of Glaciology, 22, 255-259.
- A new spatially and temporally variable sigma parameter in degree-day melt modelling of the Greenland Ice Sheet 1870–2013. The Cryosphere Discussions, 9(5), 5327-5371.
- Climatic control on the peak discharge of glacier outburst floods. Geophysical Research Letters, 34(21). View this article in WRRO
- Diffusion of climatic signals in ice cores by vein migration.
- Ice-mass survival for approximately 800 Myr in the tropical Kasei Valles region, Mars.
- Supplementary material to "Pervasive diffusion of climate signals recorded in ice-vein ionic impurities".
- Pervasive diffusion of climate signals recorded in ice-vein ionic impurities.
- Late Amazonian ice survival in Kasei Valles, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
- Initial response to Reviewer 1.
- Initial response to Reviewer 2.
- Morphology and evolution of supraglacial hummocks on debris‐covered Himalayan glaciers. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
- Final Author Response to all reviews [postcript].
- Final Author Response to all reviews.
- Sliding, Drainage and Subglacial Geomorphology, Springer Textbooks in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment (pp. 47-78). Springer International Publishing
- A Mathematical Model of Wide Subglacial Water Drainage channels, Ice Physics and the Natural Environment (pp. 325-327). Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Software / Code
- Teaching activities
My teaching encompasses the theoretical, empirical and skill elements of physical geography. Breaking down complex things and explaining them simply is difficult, and this is what I try to do with our students. Thus I emphasise a structured approach in exploring knowledge.
I am fortunate in my own education to have been taught by people who are truly inspirational; now I try to follow in their footsteps by launching students into the fun of thinking, problem-solving, and discovery. I do this by a range of methods, including getting our students to push ideas around in words and drawings with me, and doing experiments in the classroom.
For my contributions I won one of the University's Senate Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in 2010.
I teach on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses including:
- GEO101 Physical Systems At The Global Scale
- GEO206 Environmental Change
- GEO255 Environmental Modelling
- GEO302 Extended Geographical Essay
- GEO368 Planetary Geoscience
All staff also engage in personal supervision and tutoring of individual students at all three undergraduate levels in the following modules:
- GEO163 (Information & Communication Skills for Geographers)
- GEO263 or GEO264 (Research Design in Human or Physical Geography)
- GEO356 (Geographical Research Project)
I am also the Director of the MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change and have been an invited lecturer on the International Summer School on "Glaciers and Ice Sheets in the Climate System" in Karthaus, Italy.
- Additional research projects
I had earlier investigated the surge behaviour of sub-polar glaciers with Tavi Murray (Leeds) and Andrew Fowler (Oxford) and recently turned my attention to the Antarctic ice streams, whose variable flow exerts strong control on ice-sheet mass balance.
With Howard Conway (Seattle), I used the radar structures in Kamb Ice Stream to infer its flow speed before it stopped ~150 years ago. Ongoing work considers the general problem of deciphering the history of ice flow from englacial radar layers.
Radar X-section of Kamb Ice Stream, showing undulating layers in ice ~1800 m deep (horizontal axis in km)
Model of isochrone-layer deformation along a flow band in an ice stream
Catastrophic outburst floods from ice-dammed lakes, known as jökulhlaups, can deliver several cubic kilometres of water suddenly with a peak discharge ranging up to 105 m3 s-1, causing severe environmental and economic impact.
In order to identify factors that regulate their timing and magnitude, I am studying the mechanics of these floods worldwide and also locally, using examples from Iceland and from the Tian Shan.
Fieldwork on the moraine-dammed lake at Grinnell Glacier, Rocky Mountains
Glaciation leaves behind a variety of bedforms on the Earth surface. Part of my research explores how they form, with an aim to reconstruct the conditions of past ice flow using them and to learn something about the processes that operate at the glacier bed.
The following images show two examples which I have studied.
Centimetre-scale: Pins of calcite precipitate protruding from the leeside of a limestone bed specimen (collected by Bernard Hallet from Castleguard Glacier, Canada)
Kilometre-scale: Drumlins of the Puget Sound, Washington State, USA. This LIDAR image is about 6 km wide. Image courtesy: Ralph Haugerud.
When sediment-laden ice sublimates, a debris layer (an ablation till) forms on the surface and it can become thick enough to obscure the ice.
This situation is found in central Beacon Valley, Antarctica. Together with collaborators at the University of Washington, I have studied the cosmogenic.
He systematics of the debris accretion process and applied our model to understand how the till layer in Beacon Valley developed while it also became spectacularly patterned by contraction-crack polygons
Beacon Valley (photo by Ron Sletten)
Polygonal pattern on the sublimation till that covers relict ice (not visible) in Beacon Valley. The polygon diameter is about 10m.