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Jan De Rydt is a UKRI Future Leaders fellow at Northumbria University, where he conducts research in polar glaciology and oceanography. He is interested in physical processes that govern the flow of glaciers and ice caps, and their interactions with the climate system. He uses a combination of theory, measurements and computer models to simulate present-day and future changes of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and understand its complex intereactions with the surrounding ocean. His work aims to reduce the uncertainty in sea level rise forecasts over the next decades to centuries.


2018-presentFaculty of Engineering and Environmental Science, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK
2011-2018British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
2010-2011Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
2006-2010Department of Physics and Astronomy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Beligium


Research interests

Jan De Rydt is involved with several research projects, funded by the European Comission and UK Research and Innovation.

  • TiPACCs (EU Horizon 2020, 2019-2023) assesses the possibility of near-future irreversible changes, so-called tipping points, in the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic Ice Sheet, in response to climate change. The coupled ice-ocean model Úa-MITgcm will be used to investigate how ocean tipping points are affected by feedbacks between ice-shelf geometry and ocean circulation, and how much ice tipping points are impacted by the complex evolution of ice-shelf melt rates when the ocean crosses a tipping point.

  • OCEAN:ICE (EU Horizon Europe, 2022-2026) assesses the impacts of key Antarctic Ice Sheet and Southern Ocean processes on Planet Earth, via their influence on sea level rise, deep water formation, ocean circulation and climate. Using the ice sheet model Úa, and coupled ice-ocean model Úa-MITgcm, Jan will quantify AIS melt sensitivity to climate forcing with the aim to reduce the ‘deep uncertainty’ in freshwater flux and sea level rise projections to 2300. He will contribute to projections of basal meltwater, iceberg calving and surface runoff from the Antarctic Ice Sheet for a range of future climate scenarios.

  • Jan is the PI of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (2022-2026), which aims to address three outstanding challenges in ice flow modelling to enable the first robust uncertainty quantification of Antarctic ice loss for a range of climate scenarios between present-day and 2300. The first challenge is the initial value problem of predicting the evolution of the ice sheet given an uncertain estimate of its present-day state. The second challenge is the structural problem of unknown or uncertain physical parameters. Here the focus is on improving the misfit between modelled and observed estimates of Antarctic mass loss between 1990 and 2020. The third challenge is the boundary value problem of assessing future changes in the state of the Ice Sheet due to uncertain external forcing. The project will produce ensemble forecasts and a stochastic error quantification of Antarctic mass loss between 2020 and 2300.

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 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Theoretical Physics, PhD, Gauged N=1 Supergravity and the Embedding Tensor Formalism, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, KU Leuven

Physics, MSc, Gauged N=2 supergravity actions, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, KU Leuven

Geography Studies (Science), MPhil, Relating surface and bed properties of Antarctic ice stream, University of Cambridge, UK, University of Cambridge


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