Tun Jan Young
  • KY16 9AL

    United Kingdom

Accepting Postgraduate Research Students

Personal profile


I am interested in the dynamics of large ice sheets and the resilience of coastal infrastructures, and their combined response to present and future climate change. I apply geophysical, geospatial, and geostatistical techniques from various scientific displines to my research.

I joined the University of St Andrews in April 2023, having previously spent 10 years (on and off) at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. The bulk of my research is in geophysical glaciology, specifically in radar applications to characterise ice sheet processes. A separate but emerging project aims to characterise sustainable urban water resilience, using Dundee City as a case study. I have previous research experience in permafrost / periglacial processes, marine mammal science, and habitat / population modelling. 

As part of the UK-based charity MapAction, I am a emergency geospatial responder to large natural disasters, most of which deploy through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). I have a growing interest in the logistics and operations of disaster response and anticipatory action. 

My CV as well as my Google Scholar profile provide more information about my academic activities. 

Research overview

My primary research focuses on applying innovative field-based geophysical and geospatial techniques to large ice sheets, namely using various types of ground-based and airborne radars to investigate the ice sheet subsurface. I often combine these observations with seismic, GNSS, resistivity, magnetotellurics, ice coring, and hot-water drilling to characterise the processes that influence glacier dynamics.

Closer to home, I also investigate ways to improve stormwater management planning in Dundee City, through novel geospatial and remote sensing frameworks. This research is conducted in collaboration with Scottish Water and Abertay University, and is part of the Water Resilient Dundee partnership.

I am able to supervise research students and associates with interests in geophysical glaciology, particularly those that have synergies with current research projects (see below). I am also interested in supervising students with multidisciplinary interests in various disciplines, including ecology, hydrology, oceanography, remote sensing, and robotics. I am happy to assist in the proposal process--please contact me to start a discussion if so. 

Current research

I am currently involved in the leadership of four major projects:

1. ITGC: International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (NSF / NERC)

The unstable retreat of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, could raise mean global sea level by up to 1m in the 21st century, as well as potentially heralding the collapse of the larger West Antarctic Ice Sheet. I co-lead Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME), one of eight projects making up the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). Using state-of-the-art geophysical and modelling techniques, TIME studies how the boundaries (shear margins) of this vast glacier evolves, and how these margins may have significant control over the future stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

2. EGGS on TOAST: Eastwind Glacier Geophysical Surveys on Top of an Antarctic Ice Shelf Transition (NSF)

EGGS on TOAST aims to characterise the processes and mechanisms occurring at the grounding zone of Eastwind Glacier - the location where the glacier begins to float to become an ice shelf. In January 2023, we completed a tomographic survey across over 300 seismic receivers to map this triple junction (the boundaries between ice, ground, and ocean) in unprecented detail. 

3. IGIS: Impact of deep subglacial groundwater on ice stream flow in West Antarctica (NERC)

This project tests the hypothesis that 'deep subglacial groundwater (contained within crustal basins of sedimentary rock) controls the flow of ice streams in West Antarctica' with an integrated programme of field measurements and numerical modelling of the Institute Ice Stream, in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

4. Building and deploying instruments in cold environments (NERC-ATSC)

Sparse observations in polar and high mountain regions limit accuracy in high latitude climate and sea level rise projections, as noted in the latest IPCC AR6 report. The use of open-source digital technology in sensor deployments can address these challenges and monitor observations with lower financial and carbon costs than traditional approaches. With several other early-career scientists, we responded to this key knowledge gap through by creating and delivering CryoSkills in April 2024, a short course dedicated to field engineering skills and sensor development within the next generation of UK scientists working in polar and high mountain regions. 

Other Research Involvement

In addition to these projects, I am also currently involved as an external collaborator to the following projects: 

  • Next generation monitoring of surging glaciers using geophysics and AI (Norges Forskningsråd & RGS, at U. Aberdeen)
  • RAICA: US-Korean collaboration to build a Ross-Amundsen Ice Core Array along the West Antarctic coastline (NSF-RAPID, at U. Minnesota)
  • SLIDE: Subglacial Lakes at Isunnguata Sermia - Dynamics and Evolution (NERC, at U. Sheffield) 
  • Water Resilience for the sustainable future of Dundee City (in collaboration with Scottish Water)

Past Research Involvement

I was involved in the following projects, which have now finished: 

  • SAFIRE: Subglacial Access and Fast Ice Research Experiment (NERC, at U. Cambridge) 
  • RESPONDER: Resolving subglacial properties, hydrological networks and dynamic evolution of ice flow on the Greenland Ice Sheet (ERC, at U. Cambridge) 

Profile Keywords

Geophysics; Glaciology; Remote Sensing; Sustainable Urbane Drainage Systems, Humanitarian Emergency Response

Research interests

My current research can be partitioned into the following components:

  • quantifying ice anisotropy and fabric strength using polarimetric radar methods.
  • understanding the combined controls that fabric, temperature, and "damage" mechanics have on rheological evolution.
  • investigating the hydrologic link between surface, englacial, and subglacial processes from integrated geophysical techniques. 
  • characterising the subglacial hydrologic system and its role in rheological modulation.

Previous research areas that I have been involved in also include:

  • using optical televiewer (OpTV) logs and analyses from ice cores to explain the variability in past surface mass balance of coastal Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica. This work forms part of the Mass2Ant project.
  • developing automated geospatial methods to characterise changes in permafrost and thermokarst-covered (lakes resulting from permafrost melt) landscapes on the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, Northwestern Canada.
  • reconstructing past climate using historical temperature data records aboard the HMS Plover, one of the many ships assigned to the Franklin Rescue Mission in the mid-1800s.
  • spatial analysis on foraging ecology and population modelling of endangered seals and whales in Northeastern Canada and the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

Teaching activity

  • GG3210 - Remote Sensing
  • SD2100 - Sustainable Scotland

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Investigating fast flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet, University of Cambridge

1 Oct 201330 Sept 2017

Award Date: 29 Jan 2018


  • GB Physical geography
  • Remote Sensing
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Ice sheets
  • QC Physics
  • Radioglaciology
  • Geophysics
  • Q Science (General)


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