One of the great revolutions of the last decade in Earth Sciences has been our ability to observe the Earth deform over timescales from seconds to decades. For the first time in history we have access to a global surface displacement field.
The field of geodesy – the study of Earth’s changing shape, rotation and gravity field – is at the heart of this revolution. We now have data from more than 15,000 Global Navigation Satellite Systems receivers (such as GPS) that are connected to bedrock. These data can be analysed to estimate millimetre or even sub-millimetre displacements of the Earth.
Through these exciting observations we can watch Earth ‘breathe’ as it changes shape in response to water and ice moving around its surface, and earthquakes, and gravitational forces from the Sun and Moon.
Knowing how the Earth changes shape – and importantly, why – is a key to understanding and quantifying the past and future of sea-level rise globally and changes in the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland.
My team and I are interested in the how and why of Earth’s changing shape. We study deformation due to past and present ice sheet change, earthquakes and tides. We model these using viscoelastic models of the Earth and are increasingly interested in transient anelastic deformations. We’re also interested in vertical land motion, sea-level change and improving GNSS analysis. I’ve listed some of our recent research highlights below.
I’ve been blessed to work with some wonderful early (and senior!) career researchers from many countries, including a great group of PhD students and postdocs. We work in a collaborative way to try and tackle problems that are of importance to populations globally. Our work covers making original observations (such as in Antarctica), analysis of observations, and building models to explain these.