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Cold Climates

We are interested in how life exists in extreme environments and how processes in the coldest places influence the workings of the whole Earth.

The Cold Climate Research Group unites cross-disciplinary scientists in the Earth and Environmental Sciences who are interested in processes in some of the most extreme environments on Earth.

We use field research, laboratory experiments and numerical modelling to understand processes occurring in cold climate systems. We are interested in how life exists in extreme environments and how processes in the coldest places influence the workings of the whole Earth.

Our expertise in biogeochemistry, microbiology, technology development is used to address some of the most pressing scientific questions about the state, behaviour and dynamics of Earth system processes in the polar regions and beyond.


We aim to understand the causes and consequences of change in the Earth system by using glaciology, biogeochemistry, microbiology, palaeoceanography and palaeoecology.



We are working to find out how melting ice sheets impact the ocean, in the past, present and future. We use isotopes, in situ monitoring and microfossils to understand how fluxes of nutrients change the ocean. We are also learning about the role of glacier surfaces in regional ecosystem dynamics and how mixoplankton contribute to the polar ocean system.

Technology development

We develop new technologies for exploring meltwater beneath glaciers, and returning data from deep ice. We are also making systems for monitoring temperate catchments at high spatial and temporal resolution, to understand water quality in UK rivers and reservoirs.


We use state of the art microbial analysis methods to understand icy ecosystems. We are finding out what species can survive in extreme cold systems, both now and in the past. We are measuring the activity of ecosystems, both in extreme icy environments and in UK freshwater systems, to understand how they influence their surroundings.

You can find out about some of our research by watching these videos:


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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Research that matters

Our research makes a difference to people’s lives as we work across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.


Postgraduate research

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Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.