Amy Swiggs

Amy Swiggs


Twitter: @amy_swiggs

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


My research utilises altimetry measurements from CryoSat-2, ICESat-2, and Sentinel-3A and -3B 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 researching how effectively satellite altimeters measure sea ice thickness in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. In particular, I am researching whether altimeters are correctly discriminating between leads (gaps in sea ice) and floes (sea ice), using altimetry data from CryoSat-2, Sentinel-3A and -3B, ICESat-2, and satellite optical imagery from Landsat 8 and Sentinel.


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 the Early Career Research (ECR) representative for BIOPOLE. BIOPOLE is a NERC project aimed at understanding biogeochemical and ecological processes in the poles. As ECR representative, 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. 


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

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 and modelling 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 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