Dr TJ Young

Dr TJ Young

Lecturer in Physical Geography

Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 46 2463



I am a geophysicist and radioglaciologist, primarily interested in the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets and their response to climate change. I apply geophysical, geospatial, and geostatistical techniques from various scientific displines to my research.

I joined the University of St Andrews in April 2023, having previously spent 10 years (on and off) at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, where I completed a MPhil, PhD, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship. My PhD and postdoc focused on geophysical investigations in the processes governing fast glacier flow, and for my MPhil I developed automated remote sensing and big data algorithms to investigate periglacial land cover change. Prior to this, I read marine biology at Duke University (USA), where I researched foraging ecology and population dynamics of seals and whales.

As part of the UK-based charity MapAction, I am a emergency geospatial responder to large natural disasters, most of which deploy through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). I have a growing interest in the logistics and operations of disaster response and anticipatory action. 

My CV as well as my Google Scholar profile provide more information about my academic activities. 


  • GG3210 - Remote Sensing
  • SD2100 - Sustainable Scotland

Research areas

My primary research focuses on applying innovative field-based geophysical and geospatial techniques to large ice sheets, namely using various types of ground-based and airborne radars to investigate the ice sheet subsurface. I often combine these observations with seismic, GNSS, resistivity, magnetotellurics, ice coring, and hot-water drilling to characterise the processes that influence glacier dynamics.

Closer to home, I also investigate ways to improve stormwater management planning in Dundee City, through novel geospatial and remote sensing frameworks. This research is conducted in collaboration with Scottish Water and Abertay University, and is part of the Water Resilient Dundee partnership.

I am able to supervise research students and associates with interests in geophysical glaciology, particularly those that have synergies with current research projects (see below). I am also interested in supervising students with multidisciplinary interests in various disciplines, including ecology, hydrology, oceanography, remote sensing, and robotics. I am happy to assist in the proposal process--please contact me to start a discussion if so. 

Current research

I am currently involved in the leadership of four major projects:

1. ITGC: International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (NSF / NERC)

The unstable retreat of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, could raise mean global sea level by up to 1m in the 21st century, as well as potentially heralding the collapse of the larger West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Along with Slawek Tulaczyk at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I co-lead Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME), one of eight projects making up the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). Using state-of-the-art geophysical and modelling techniques, TIME studies how the boundaries (shear margins) of this vast glacier evolves, and how these margins may have significant control over the future stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

2. EGGS on TOAST: Eastwind Glacier Geophysical Surveys on Top of an Antarctic Ice Shelf Transition (NSF)

EGGS on TOAST aims to characterise the processes and mechanisms occurring at the grounding zone of Eastwind Glacier - the location where the glacier begins to float to become an ice shelf. In January 2023, we completed a tomographic survey across over 300 seismic receivers to map this triple junction (the boundaries between ice, ground, and ocean) in unprecented detail. Ultimately, this project has the potential to reveal insights into these dynamic zones and our understanding of glacier stability.

3. IGIS: Impact of deep subglacial groundwater on ice stream flow in West Antarctica (NERC)

This project tests the hypothesis that 'deep subglacial groundwater (contained within crustal basins of sedimentary rock) controls the flow of ice streams in West Antarctica' with an integrated programme of field measurements and numerical modelling of the Institute Ice Stream, in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Institute Ice Stream is particularly vulnerable to dynamic change and one of the largest sources of uncertainty in predictions of sea level change from Antarctica, and therefore an urgent priority for further scientific investigation.

4. Building and deploying instruments in cold environments (NERC-ATSC)

Polar and climate science is heavily limited by the paucity of observations in polar and high mountain regions, as noted in the IPCC AR6 report. The use of open-source digital technology, such as autonomous sensor platforms and satellite communications, addresses these challenges and deliver observations with lower financial and carbon costs than traditional approaches. With several other early-career scientists, we respond to this key knowledge gap through by creating and delivering CryoSkills, a short course dedicated to field engineering skills and sensor development within the next generation of UK scientists working in polar and high mountain regions. This short course is on track to be delivered at Haugastol, Norway, in April 2024. 

Other Research Involvement

In addition to these projects, I am also currently involved as an external collaborator to the following projects: 

  • RAICA: US-Korean collaboration to build a Ross-Amundsen Ice Core Array along the West Antarctic coastline (NSF-RAPID, at U. Minnesota)
  • SLIDE: Subglacial Lakes at Isunnguata Sermia - Dynamics and Evolution (NERC, at U. Sheffield) 

Past Research Involvement

I was involved in the following projects, which have now finished: 

  • SAFIRE: Subglacial Access and Fast Ice Research Experiment (NERC, at U. Cambridge) 
  • RESPONDER: Resolving subglacial properties, hydrological networks and dynamic evolution of ice flow on the Greenland Ice Sheet (ERC, at U. Cambridge) 


I teach or co-teach the following classes: 

1. GG3210: Remote Sensing

2. SD2100: Sustainable Scotland

3. SD4128: Coordinating a Humanitarian Disaster Response

PhD supervision

  • Emma Cameron

Selected publications


See more publications