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How would we survive in a world without ice?

What would happen to the Earth if all the ice melted? Extreme environments are found on Earth’s surface, its subsurface, oceans, and in the atmosphere, as well as in the solar system. At the most extreme, conditions challenge the existence of most known life forms. Through our research, we are seeking to answer fundamental global questions, such as: What would happen to the Earth if all the ice melted? Can we forecast Space Weather? How do nonlinear physical systems, such as rogue waves, operate under extreme parameters?

So, why should we be concerned with ice? As the world warms, colder regions made up of snow, glaciers, ice caps, frozen ground and sea ice are changing rapidly. What are the global consequences if all this ice melts? What would be the implications for human society?

Our team of earth and atmospheric scientists are using novel techniques and approaches to shed new light on the impact of climate change on the planet’s natural systems. Our findings are helping us to understand how regions such as Antarctica, Greenland and the Himalayas are responding to rapid climate warming. Improved understanding can inform adaptation to water shortages in mountain regions and flooding in coastal zones. What do you think? Join the debate.

Extreme Environments: Exploring extreme environments on Earth and in space.

Northumbria is recognised for novel research in the field, including our work in cold and paleo environments. Our work includes the exploration of the West Antarctic ice sheet, predicting changes in water resources from Himalayan mountain glaciers, climatic reconstruction using deep ocean cores, and investigating carbon release from Siberian permafrost.

Our experts in solar physics are taking part in an international project to build the world’s biggest solar telescope and the development of a revolutionary solar flare forecast system. Our mathematicians and statisticians detail fundamental behaviour under extreme parameters, including complex systems and utilising advanced statistical techniques.

Our researchers have attracted funding from sources such as Research Councils UK, the EU, ESA, the Leverhulme Trust and the US Air Force.


Over 99% of the world’s fresh water is locked up in ice sheets and glaciers. In addition, the great ice sheets play a vital role in modulating the Earth’s climate and ocean circulation. Billions of people on Earth rely on runoff from mountain ice and snow for domestic use, agriculture irrigation, industry and hydropower generation.

So what would happen if it all melted?

Potentially, global sea level could rise by 70 metres flooding coastal zones, while heavily populated regions bordering high mountain Asia and America would suffer annual water shortages in the dry season.

Our experts are exploring evidence of previous warm periods in earth geological history contained in deep ocean sediments to understand what the world will be like under a future warmer climate. We are going literally to the ends of the Earth to assess whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will survive to the end of the century under global warming, or whether it could melt, raising global sea levels by several metres. 

Another project recently revealed that central Chile is facing declining water resources as Andean glaciers shrink and disappear, whereas in contrast, Himalayan regions will experience no reduction in water availability but an increase in extremes including floods.

Can we understand and adapt to these extreme environmental scenarios? …..

What do you think? Share your views using #ChangingChallengingWorld



Research Theme Lead:  Prof. Adrian Jenkins





Our Staff

Astrophysics (Solar Physics research group)

Geography (Cold & Paleo Environments, Environmental Geochemistry & Ecology research groups)

Mathematics (Nonlinear Waves; Mathematical Physics research groups)

Statistics (Data Analysis research group)

Computer Science

Applied Sciences


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