Dr Darrel A Swift

Lecturer in Geoscience

Darrel Swift

Room number: E10
Telephone (internal): 27959
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7959
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7959
Email: D.A.Swift@Sheffield.ac.uk



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.


GlacierResearch 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.

Current research

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.



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.

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.

Key Publications

Swift DA & Jones A (2018) Going against the flow: testing the hypothesis of pulsed axial glacier flow. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Swift DA, Cook SJ, Graham DJ, Midgley NG, Fallick AE, Storrar R, Toubes Rodrigo M & Evans DJA (2018) Terminal zone glacial sediment transfer at a temperate overdeepened glacier system. Quaternary Science Reviews, 180, 111-131.

Patton H, Swift DA, Clark CD, Livingstone SJ & Cook SJ (2016) Distribution and characteristics of overdeepenings beneath the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets: Implications for overdeepening origin and evolution. Quaternary Science Reviews, 148, 128-145.

Swift DA, Cook S, Heckmann T, Moore J, Gärtner-Roer I & Korup O (2014) Ice and Snow as Land-Forming Agents, Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks, and Disasters (pp. 167-199). 

Cook SJ & Swift DA (2012) Subglacial basins: Their origin and importance in glacial systems and landscapes. Earth-Science Reviews, 115(4), 332-372.

Cook SJ, Swift DA, Graham DJ & Midgley NG (2011) Origin and significance of 'dispersed facies' basal ice: Svínafellsjökull, Iceland. Journal of Glaciology, 57(204), 710-720.

Swift DA, Persano C, Stuart FM, Gallagher K & Whitham A (2008) 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.