Oliver Pollard

Oliver Pollard


I’m a PhD student in the School of Earth and Environment interested in the mathematical description and computational modelling of geophysical processes. I have previously studied Natural Sciences, majoring in maths and minoring in physics, here at Leeds. In the later years of my degree, I focused on applied maths including molecular simulation, quantum mechanics and extensive study of fluid dynamics.

During my masters project, I worked with Dr Stephen Griffiths in the Department of Applied Mathematics to construct a simple model of ocean tides. This project introduced me to the fundamentals of mathematical modelling by requiring the implementation of discretised Laplace tidal equations, the defining of appropriate spatial and temporal variable distributions and the analysis of real world data for model output validation.

I am thrilled to be pursuing my passion for applied mathematics and computer programming in the new and challenging context of the environmental sciences.

PhD Project

Inundation by sea-level rise is among the most directly damaging climate-change driven threats to our coastal populations. By the year 2100, projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate that land currently inhabited by 630 million people may be under the water line during high tide. However, our understanding of the magnitude and rate of sea-level rise beyond 2100 is poorly constrained, making it challenging to provide accurate projections of the risk to infrastructure, populations, or natural habitats.

The Last Interglacial (LIG) period (130 - 115 ka) was the last time in Earth’s history that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were smaller than those of today due, in part, to polar temperatures reaching 3 - 5 °C above pre-industrial values. Similar polar temperature increases are predicted in the coming decades and the LIG period could therefore help to shed light on ice sheet and sea level mechanisms in a warming world.

Gravitationally self-consistent sea-level changes driven by ice sheet melt on a deformable solid Earth are governed by perturbations to the Earth’s gravitational field caused by the redistribution of ice and ocean mass. These mass changes also result in solid Earth deformation and changes to the planets rotational vector which, in turn, induce further mass redistribution. My PhD project tackles this highly coupled problem by employing numerical models to simulate these processes and uses perturbed physics ensemble techniques to explore the full range of plausible sea-level patterns. Fitted against empirically derived datasets, these patterns can then be used to deduce relative mass loss of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets during the LIG.

Roles of Responsibility

  • PhD Group Meeting Co-convener, AI4Environment Research Group, Turing Institute
  • Post Graduate Researcher Representative, Earth Surface Science Institute
  • Research Group Meeting Convener, Climate-Ice Research Group


  • SOEE5710M: Advanced Data Analysis and Visualisation for Environmental Applications
  • SOEE3250: Inverse Theory
  • SOEE1160: Computers and Programming in Geosciences
  • SOEE5920: Climate and Atmospheric Science (in development)


  • Early Career Scientist of the Year (2021), Earth Surface Science Institute.


Funded by the ERC as part of the “Rates of Interglacial Sea-Level Change and Responses” (RISeR) project.

Research Interests

  • Glacial Isostatic Adjustment Modelling
  • Machine Learning Gaussian Processes
  • Sensitivity Analysis
  • Uncertainty Quantification
  • Numerical Methods


  • MNatSci BSc, Natural Sciences, University of Leeds

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science
  • Earth Surface Science Institute
  • Palaeo@Leeds