Bethan Davies

Biography | Recent employment | Education | Publications | PhD Thesis | Profiles

I am a glaciologist specialising in reconstructing glacier dynamics over multiple timescales, from both field and remotely sensed data, particularly in the Antarctic Peninsula, Britain and Patagonia. I am also interested in using ice-sheet and climate models to constrain the interaction between glaciers and climate. I wrote and developed the AntarcticGlaciers website as part of an ongoing commitment to outreach, education and research impact.

Contact details

Email: bethan [at] or bethan.davies [at]

Address: Dr Bethan Davies, Centre for Quaternary Research, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX

Website: RHUL Department of Geography

Departmental webpage



Bethan Davies

Following an undergraduate degree in Geography at Nottingham University (2004), and an MSc in Quaternary Science at Royal Holloway, University of London (2005), I undertook a PhD in Glacial Geology at Durham University (2009). My thesis was called: “British and Fennoscandian ice-sheet interactions during the Quaternary”. This involved spending a lot of time logging and analysing glacial tills exposed in coastal cliff sections in County Durham.

After a brief stint as an Assistant Marine Geologist at the British Antarctic Survey, I then moved on to Aberystwyth University,  where I worked as a post-doctoral research associated in the Centre for Glaciology. I  worked on a project entitled, “Glacial history of the NE Antarctic Peninsula on centennial to millennial timescales”. I then took up a position a PDRA at the Department for Meteorology at the University of Reading, where I analysed ice sheet evolution using coupled climate and ice-sheet models.

I am now a Lecturer in Physical Geography (Quaternary Science) at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Research interests

Glacier and ice-sheet modelling

I am interested in using numerical computer models to understand how climate interacts with glaciers and ice sheets. At present, I am using large ice-sheet models to understand northern hemisphere ice-sheets, climate and sea-level during the past glacial cycle. I also use glacier models to constrain cryospheric response to climate change, and to relate glacier fluctuations, reconstructed from field evidence, to climate. I was recently awarded a SCAR (Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research) Fellowship to spend six months at the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, where I worked on modelling glacier and climate interactions during the Holocene.

Palaeo ice-sheet reconstruction

I am also interested in using geological data to reconstruct past ice-sheet fluctuations. I use geomorphological mapping and chronological techniques to constrain past ice-sheet dynamics and rates and magnitudes of change. I have particular expertise in cosmogenic nuclide dating. During fieldwork, we take rock samples and analyse their isotopic chemistry to see how long they have been exposed to the surface. This gives us the age of ice sheet retreat in the area.

I have worked extensively in the Antarctic Peninsula, Britain and in Greenland, and have conducted several expeditions to these regions.

Remote sensing of glacier change

I use satellite images to understand more recent glacier recession and ice-shelf collapse. I have used satellite data to conduct glacier inventories and am a member of the GLIMS initiative, using satellite data to analyse and quantify glaciers in Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula.


I undertook two field seasons to James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula (2011, 2012) and a third to Alexander Island in November 2012. I have also been on expeditions to Iceland (2000, 2003) and Greenland (2006). I have conducted extensive fieldwork in Britain.

Recent employment


  • Oct 2005 – April 2009: PhD in Quaternary Geology, Durham University
  • Sept 2004 – Sept 2005: MSc in Quaternary Science, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Sept 2001 – Sept 2004: BA (Hons) in Geography, Nottingham University

Science communication and outreach

  • Wrote (launched June 2012), a website that delivers peer-reviewed science to the public, A-Level and undergraduate students. The website underpins and supports my university teaching, increases the visibility and impact of my research, and broadens my professional network.
  • Public lectures at venues such as the British Science Festival.

Invited guest contributions to other science communication outlets:

Journal Publications

See here for an up-to-date list of publications.

Selected key publications:

Hambrey, M.J., Davies, B.J., Glasser, N.F., Holt, T.O., Smellie, J.L., Carrivick, J.L., 2015. Structure and sedimentology of George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula: implications for ice-sheet dynamics and landform development. Journal of the Geological Society. Download the PDF

Davies, B.J., Golledge, N.R., Glasser, N.F., Carrivick, J.L., Ligtenberg, S.R.M., Barrand, N.E., van den Broeke, M.R., Hambrey, M.J., Smellie, J.L., 2014. Modelled glacier response to centennial temperature and precipitation trends on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature Climate Change. Read the associated AntarcticGlaciers webpage.

Ó Cofaigh, C., Davies, B.J., Livingstone, S.L., Johnson, J., Smith, J., Anderson, J.B., Bentley, M.J., Canals, M., Dowdeswell, J.A., Evans, J., Glasser, N.F., Hillenbrand, C.-D., Hodgson, D., Larter, R.D., and Domack, E., 2014. Reconstruction of ice sheet changes in the Antarctic Peninsula sector since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews 100, 87-110.

Davies, B. J. and N. F. Glasser (2014). “Analysis of as a tool for online science communication. Correspondence paper.” Journal of Glaciology 60(220): 1-8. Download the preprint: Davies_and_Glasser_2014_preprint

Glasser, N. F., Davies, B. J., Carrivick, J. L., Rodés, A., Hambrey, M. J., Smellie, J. L., and Domack, E. (2014). Ice-stream initiation, duration and thinning on James Ross Island, northern Antarctic Peninsula. Quaternary Science Reviews 86, 78-88.  Download the Glasser et al. 2014 Preprint.

Davies, B.J., Glasser, N.F., Carrivick, J.L., Hambrey, M.J., Smellie, J.L. and Nyvlt, D., 2013. Landscape evolution and ice-sheet behaviour in a semi-arid polar environment: James Ross Island, NE Antarctic Peninsula. In: M.J. Hambrey, P.F. Barker, P.J. Barrett, V.C. Bowman, B.J. Davies, J.L. Smellie and M. Tranter (Editors), Antarctic Palaeoenvironments and Earth Surface Processes, 381. Geological Society of London, Special Publications, London

Davies, B.J., and Glasser, N.F., 2012. Accelerating recession in Patagonian glaciers from the “Little Ice Age” (c. A.D. 1870) to 2011. Journal of Glaciology 58 (212), 1063-1084.

Carrivick, J.L. Davies, B.J., Glasser, N.F., & Nývlt, D., 2012. Late Holocene changes in character and behaviour of land-terminating glaciers on James Ross Island, Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology 58 (212), 1176-1190.

Davies, B.J.,Carrivick, J.L., Glasser, N.F., Hambrey, M.J., & Smellie, J.S., 2012. Variable glacier response to atmospheric warming, northern Antarctic Peninsula, 1988–2009. The Cryosphere 6, 1031-1048. doi:10.5194/tc-6-1031-2012 (download PDF)

Livingstone, S.J., Evans, D.J.A., Ó Cofaigh, C., Davies, B.J., Merritt, J.W., Huddart, D., Mitchell, W.A., Roberts, D.H., & Yorke, L., 2012. Glaciodynamics of the central sector of the British-Irish Ice Sheet in Northern England. Earth-Science reviews 111, 25-55.

Davies, B.J., Roberts, D.H., Bridgland, D.R., & Ó Cofaigh, C., 2012. Dynamic Devensian ice flow in NE England: a sedimentological reconstruction. Boreas 41, 337-366.

Davies, B.J., Roberts, D.H., Bridgland, D.R., Ó Cofaigh, C., Riding, J.B., Demarchi, B., Penkman, K.E.H., & Pawley, S.M., 2012. Timing and depositional environments of the Scandinavian glaciation of northeast England: New evidence from Warren House Gill, County Durham. Quaternary Science Reviews 44, 180-212.

Davies, B.J., Hambrey, M.H., Smellie, J.S., Carrivick, J.L., & Glasser, N.F., 2012. Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet evolution during the Cenozoic Era. Quaternary Science Reviews 31, 30-66.

Glasser, N.F., Scambos, T.A., Bohlander, J., Truffer, M., Pettit, E., & Davies, B.J., 2011. From ice-shelf tributary to tidewater glacier: continued glacier recession, acceleration and thinning following the 1995 collapse of the Prince Gustav Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Glaciology 57, 397-406.

Davies, B.J.,Roberts, D.H., Bridgland, D.R., Ó Cofaigh, C., & Riding, J.B., 2011. Provenance and depositional environments of Quaternary sediments in the North Sea Basin. Journal of Quaternary Science 26, 59-75.

Davies, B.J., Bridgland D.R., Roberts, D.H., Ó Cofaigh, C., Pawley, S.M., Candy, I., Demarchi, B., Penkman, K.E.H., & Austin, W.E.N., 2009. The age and stratigraphic context of the Easington Raised Beach, County Durham, UK. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 120, 183-198.

Davies, B.J., Roberts, D.H., Ó Cofaigh, C., Bridgland, D.R., Riding, J., Phillips E.R., & Teasdale, D.A., 2009. Interlobate ice sheet dynamics and ice marginal controls on sediment deposition at Whitburn Bay, County Durham, England. Boreas 38, 555-578.

Edited volumes

Antarctic Palaeoenvironments and Earth Surface Processes. Editors: Hambrey, M.H., Barker, P.F., Barrett, P.J., Bowman, V.C., Davies, B.J., Smellie, J.L. & Tranter, M., 2013. Geological Society of London Special Publication, Volume 381.

Quaternary of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. QRA Field Guide (September 2013). Editors: Davies, B.J, Bridgland, D.R., Yorke, L., and Roberts, D.H., 2013. 208 pp.

Book chapters

Yorke, L., and Davies, B.J., 2013. Context and Overview. In: Davies, B.J., Yorke, L., Bridgland D.R. and Roberts, D.H., QRA Field Guide: The Quaternary of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Quaternary Research Association, Cambridge.

Davies, B.J., and Bridgland, D.H., 2013. Overview: Geology and Landscape. In: Davies, B.J., Yorke, L., Bridgland D.R. and Roberts, D.H., QRA Field Guide: The Quaternary of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Quaternary Research Association, Cambridge.

Davies, B.J., and Roberts, D.H., 2013. Overview of glacial sediments of Co. Durham. In: Davies, B.J., Yorke, L., Bridgland D.R. and Roberts, D.H., QRA Field Guide: The Quaternary of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Quaternary Research Association, Cambridge.

Davies, B.J., Roberts, D.H., Bridgland, D.R., and Teasdale, D., 2013. Whitburn Bay. In: Davies, B.J., Yorke, L., Bridgland D.R. and Roberts, D.H., QRA Field Guide: The Quaternary of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Quaternary Research Association, Cambridge.

Davies, B.J., Bridgland, D.H., and Roberts, D.R., 2013. Easington Raised Beach. In: Davies, B.J., Yorke, L., Bridgland D.R. and Roberts, D.H., QRA Field Guide: The Quaternary of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Quaternary Research Association, Cambridge.

Davies, B.J., Roberts, D.H., and Bridgland, D.R., 2013. Warren House Gill. In: Davies, B.J., Yorke, L., Bridgland D.R. and Roberts, D.H., QRA Field Guide: The Quaternary of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Quaternary Research Association, Cambridge.

Davies, B.J., Roberts, D.H., Bridgland, D.R., & Ó Cofaigh, C., in press. Heavy mineral analysis case study: Northern England. In: Bridgland, D.R. (Ed). QRA Technical Guide: Clast Analysis. QRA, Cambridge.

Davies, B.J., in press. Heavy-Mineral Analysis: Methodologies. In: Bridgland, D.R. (Ed). QRA Technical Guide: Clast Analysis. QRA, Cambridge.

PhD Thesis

You can download my PhD thesis from here.

Citation: Davies, B.J., 2009. British and Fennoscandian Ice-Sheet Interactions during the Quaternary, Unpubl. PhD Thesis. Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, 502 pp.

Bethan Davies Thesis (Zipped PDFs – 70MB)

Ethesis from the Durham University website (smaller)

Other Profiles

Aberystwyth University
Google Scholar

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6 thoughts on “Bethan Davies

  1. Dear Dr. Davies,

    The ice age temperature/CO2 ups and downs are in range of 10oC/100ppm. Since industrial revolution, the CO2 has increases about 100 ppm from 280 to 406 ppm. But the temperature only increased for about 0.7oC. Please comment on this. Do you have the nearest ice core data? Like from 1900 to ???


    • Hello,

      You could look at the GRIP ice core data from Greenland, or the Vostok ice cores from Antarctica. They are referenced on the ice cores page on this website and by the IPCC pages.

      Over the last 420,000 years, CO2 changes generally followed temperature changes, with a lag of 100s to 1000s of years. Greenhouse gas feedbacks contributed to the overall changes. The current rate of change of CO2 vastly outpaces palaeo rates of change, which is why the amount of temperature change is so far relatively low.

  2. Dear Dr. Davis,
    I need list of National Ice Core Laboratory and produced data list from ice core and methodology.
    Could you help to me where can I find it or if you have document could you sent them to me?
    Best Regards

    Mesut DEMİRCAN
    MSc. in Physical Geography
    Geodesy & Photogrametry Engineer

  3. How do you debate climate deniers who say that all research is funded by government grants and looking for results that agree with their positions? Have you ever been pressured?

    • Hi John,

      Firstly, anyone who thinks we’re in it for the money has not closely investigated university pay scales!

      Secondly, government grant success rates are actually very low. They are also increasingly hard to win. Writing a grant takes months and months of work, pulling together numerous strings and different researchers. Several independent reviewers scrutinise the grants very carefully and you have to identify a specific problem that your research will solve. It’s very very difficult to win a grant, and research that simply supports the status quo and doesn’t challenge an established idea or identify a gap in knowledge will be ranked very low and is unlikely to be funded. Finally, the grants are reviewed by a panel who rank them and decide which to fund.

      You are much more likely to be funded if you have a very original idea that challenges established theories and can present a good methodology to test your new hypothesis than if you write a grant that looks for results that already agree with the established literature!

      Best wishes,

  4. I dont understand – based on this information if all known ice melts it doesnt equal 394.67 km3 ice. And if it did it still would only equal 1 mm rise in sea levels? Please help explain.

    Fretwell et al. 2013 estimated that the Antarctic Ice Sheet comprised 27 million km3 of ice, with a sea level equivalent of ~58 m

    Then this means 1 mm rise if …

    So, 361.8 Gt of ice will raise global sea levels by 1 mm. 361.8 Gt of ice is equivalent to 394.67 km3 ice.



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