Amy Swiggs

Amy Swiggs


I am a PhD researcher with the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) in the Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science, at the University of Leeds. 

Twitter: @amy_swiggs


My research utilises satellite altimetry measurements to investigate trends in Arctic sea ice thickness, exploring this alongside in-situ measurements, to understand the drivers of sea ice loss in the Arctic. I focus on regional variations in sea ice thickness to investigate how these changes will impact climate, ecosystems and the economy, with the aim of improving future projections of sea ice loss and its implications. 

Currently, I am investigating how the ice pack in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is changing, and whether the density of leads (gaps in sea ice) has changed with a warming climate. I am also researching how effectively satellite altimeters are able to discriminate between these different surface types, using altimetry data from CryoSat-2 and validation optical imagery from Landsat 8.


In March 2022 I took part in the Arctic CryoVEX Campaign for the European Space Agency (ESA), aimed at validating and calibrating ice-monitoring satellites as part of the wider Cryo2Ice campaign. This involved travelling to west Greenland, and then onto to the EGIG line of the ice sheet, where we took firn depth and density measurements, firn cores, and constructed corner reflectors for LIDAR aerial measurements. This work will be used to improve satellite measurement of the polar regions.

See my blog about the fieldwork campaign here.

Additional Research Experience

I am a member of the BIOPOLE project. BIOPOLE is a NERC project aimed at understanding biogeochemical and ecological processes in the poles. I am the Early Career Research (ECR) representative for BIOPOLE, and therefore I coordinate the project ECRs and lead meetings to maximise engagement with ECRs in BIOPOLE. I also attend Executive Board meetings and assist with project-wide communication. 

As ECR representative, I have:

  • Ran a careers workshop for ECRs
  • Started an ECR mentoring programme within BIOPOLE
  • Created a meet-a-colleague system in the project to promote inclusivity
  • Organised ECR activities at the Annual Science Meeting

Conferences and Project Meetings

International Workshop on Sea Ice Modelling, Assimilation, Observations, Predictions and Verification 2023 – Poster (tbc)

International Symposium on Sea Ice across Spatial and Temporal Scales 2023 – (tbc)

BIOPOLE Annual Science Meeting 2023 – Talk titled ‘ECR Updates’ [presented as ECR Representative], presented poster titled ‘Investigating Changes in Sea Ice Lead Density in the Northwest Passage’. 

ESA Living Planet Symposium 2022 – Presented poster titled ‘Exploring Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Trends Using CryoSat-2’.

UK Polar Network Early Career Conference 2021 – Presented masters poster titled ‘The Role of Glacial Meltwater on Phytoplankton Blooms around the Greenland Ice Sheet’

Student Education

I have been a graduate teaching assistant on the following modules:

  • Computers and Programming in Geosciences (SOEE1160)
    • GIS, modelling, Python and Jupyter Notebook practical support 
  • Field, GIS and Research Skills (SOEE1630)
    • GIS and statistics softare practical support
  • Fieldwork and Tutorials (SOEE1443)
    • Fieldwork support team

Scientific Outreach


  • I helped to run a stall at the University of Leeds Be Curious event, communicating satellite observaiton of polar environments to the wider Leeds community.
  • I participated in a school outreach event engaging A-Level students in science, and encouraging a career in STEM and Academia. 
  • I assist in the running of CPOM social media accounts to promote scientific engagement.

Awards and Prizes

  • 2021: Koerner Prize
  • 2020: Black and Gold Award

Previous Research Experience

I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2021, where I studied MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change (2020-2021) and BSc Geography (2017-2020).

In my masters dissertation I investigated trends in the marine primary productivity of coastal waters around the Greenland Ice Sheet. I used satellite imagery and climate models to explore how increasing glacial runoff, growing sediment plumes, reductions in sea ice extent, and changing wind patterns, influenced surface biogeochemical properties of coastal fjords around Greenland from 2010-2021. I was awarded the Koerner Prize by the University of Sheffield for this work.

In my undergraduate dissertation, I used feature tracking of satellite imagery to investigate the recent deceleration of Jakobshavn Isbrae, a large marine-terminating glacier on the west coast of the Greenland Ice Sheet. I compared the velocity with another glacier in the same fjord system to assess the causes of velocity changes in the region.


Research interests

  • Satellite Earth Observation of the Cryosphere
  • Satellite Altimetry
  • Arctic sea ice thickness
  • Glaciology
  • Arctic climate change


  • MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change (Distinction), University of Sheffield
  • BSc (Hons) Geography (First Class), University of Sheffield

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science