Oliver Pollard

Oliver Pollard



I’m a first year PhD student working with 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 (SL) rise is perhaps the most directly damaging climate change driven threat to our coastal populations. By the year 2100, in high emission scenarios, 540 million people may be under the water line during high tide (Kulp, Nature, 2019). 

Despite this, our understanding of the magnitude and rate of SL rise beyond 2100 is based on poorly constrained information, making it impossible to advise on the suitability of essential long term coastal infrastructure such as power plants, telecommunication and transportation.

During the Last Interglacial (LIG) warming, the paleo record witnessed physical mechanisms unseen in recent history but that may be crucially relevant to understanding SL rise in the coming centuries.

My PhD will provide critical information on solid earth deformation and ice sheet changes that occurred previous to the LIG. The viscoelastic nature of the planets solid Earth response to load changes means that the crust continues to uplift and subside long after ice sheets have melted.

By constraining potential ice sheet spatial-temporal evolutions we can determine the resulting modelled solid Earth response. It is then possible to then isolate the contributions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to LIG SL rise and thus interpret existing and new measurements of LIG SL.

The project promises to be highly interdisciplinary by combining accurate geophysical models of mantle rheology, empirically constrained ice sheet histories, and the application of statistical techniques to analyse the physical significance of results.


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

Research Interests

  • Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
  • Glacial Isostatic Adjustment Modelling
  • 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