Professor Julian A Dowdeswell

Emeritus Fellow, Brian Buckley Fellow in Polar Sciences
University Positions
Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography
former Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute
Specialising in
Glaciology and Glacial Geology

Julian Dowdeswell is Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography and the former Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Academic interests

Julian Dowdeswell's academic interests include:

  • The form and flow of ice sheets
  • Polar marine geology and geophysics
  • Satellite remote sensing of ice.

Degrees obtained

  • BA, University of Cambridge.
  • MA, University of Colorado.
  • PhD, University of Cambridge. 
  • ScD, University of Cambridge.

Awards and prizes

  • Polar Medal, 1994.
  • Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, 2008.
  • Agassiz Medal of the European Geosciences Union, 2013.
  • Member of the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research, 2013.
  • IASC Medal of the International Arctic Science Committee, 2014.
  • Fellow of the British Society for Geomorphology, 2014.
  • Honorary Member of the American Polar Society, 2015.
  • Honorary Fellow, Aberystwyth University, 2016.
  • Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, 2018.
  • Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London, 2018.
  • William Speirs Bruce Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, 2019.
  • A bay in Antarctica, Dowdeswell Bay, has recently been named after Julian.


Julian Dowdeswell graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1980, studied for a Masters Degree at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research in the University of Colorado, and for a PhD in the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.

His research interests include:

  • the dynamics of large ice masses and their response to climate change
  • the application of airborne and satellite geophysical techniques in glaciology
  • processes and patterns of sedimentation in glacier-influenced marine environments.

He has worked, on the ice and from aircraft, in a number of areas of the Arctic, including Svalbard, Russian Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya, Iceland, Greenland and Baffin, Devon and Ellesmere Islands in Arctic Canada.

Julian has also undertaken many periods of work on icebreaking research vessels in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, in the fjords and on the continental shelves of Svalbard and Greenland, and in the waters around Antarctica.

In February 2019 he was Chief Scientist on the international Weddell Sea Expedition to study the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Hear more about the expedition in an interview with the BBC.

Julian is also a Trustee of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

Other interests

Hill and coastal walking, Oxford United FC.

Department link

Publications, links and resources

  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Hambrey, M.J. (2018) The Continent of Antarctica, London: Papadakis.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B.J., Dowdeswell, E.K. and Hogan K.A. eds, (2016) Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient. The Geological Society of London, Memoirs, v. 46, 618 pp.
  • Dowdeswell, E.K., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Seddon, A. (2014) Ernest Shackleton: Antarctic Explorer. Oxford: Hinemann-Raintree (Young Explorers Series).
  • Dowdeswell, E.K., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Seddon, A. (2012) Scott of the Antarctic. Oxford: Hinemann-Raintree (Young Explorers Series).
  • Dowdeswell, J.A., Lane, H.E., Charlier, G. and de Pomereau, J. eds, (2009) Captain Scott’s Antarctic Expedition 1911-13: the Photographs of Herbert Ponting. Salto Ulbeek and Scott Polar Research Institute.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Lane, H.E. (2006) The Antarctic Paintings of Edward Seago. Cambridge: Scott Polar Research Institute, Occasional Publication Series.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Ó Cofaigh, C. eds, (2002) Glacier-Influenced Sedimentation on High-Latitude Continental Margins. London: The Geological Society of London, Special Publication No. 203.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Hambrey, M.J. (2002) Islands of the Arctic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Elverhøi, A., Dowdeswell, J.A., Funder, S., Mangerud, J. and Stein, R. eds, (1998) Glacial and Oceanic History of the Polar North Atlantic Margins. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Wadhams, P., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Schofield, A.N. eds, (1996) The Arctic and Environmental Change. Oxford: Gordon and Breach.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Scourse, J.D. eds, (1990) Glacimarine Environments: Processes and Sediments. London: The Geological Society of London.

These are books written or edited by Julian and colleagues. Julian has also written more than 400 scientific papers.

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