My research interests and expertise are focused on glacier dynamics and glacier-climate interactions, and my research bridges the fields of glacial geomorphology, glaciology, climatology and remote sensing. Geographically, I have led and collaborated on research examining glacier dynamics and glacier change in Scotland, Iceland, Norway and the European Alps. As part of my research, I emphasise the use of a multi-method approach, which integrates multiple GIS, remote-sensing and/or field-based glacial-geological methods.
Thus far, my research has focused on three main themes: (1) examining glacier-climate interactions using moraines; (2) reconstructing the extent, style and dynamics of past mountain glaciers; and (3) ice-sheet deglaciation in upland terrain.
Examining glacier-climate interactions using moraines
Moraines are crucial landforms for reconstructing glacier dynamics of Quaternary ice masses, and potentially represent invaluable proxies for glacier-climate interactions. Thus, understanding the formation, significance and preservation potential of moraines in modern glacial settings – where they can be directly linked to glaciological and climatic conditions – is crucial to their application in palaeoglaciological contexts.
Research under this theme involves examining seasonal climatic controls on glacier dynamics (i.e. how the motion of glaciers varies in time and space) through mapping the distribution of moraines and studying their internal composition, as well as statistical analysis of moraine spacing and climatic data (e.g. Chandler et al., 2016, QSR; Chandler et al., 2016, arktos).
Extent, style and dynamics of past mountain glaciers
Investigating the geomorphological signatures of former or formerly more extensive, mountain glaciers (cirque glaciers to ice-caps) enables the reconstruction of their three-dimensional form and dynamics. The reconstructions can, in turn, be used to calculate palaeoclimatic parameters for glaciated regions. The importance of this research is twofold: Firstly, it provides crucial palaeoclimatic data which are needed to test and refine numerical models. Secondly, detailed understanding of past glacier response to changing climate can help contextualise ongoing, and predicted, glacier fluctuations.
Research under this theme principally involves extensive geomorphological mapping (in the field and from aerial photographs) to establish the distribution and pattern of glacial landforms. This mapping is then used to reconstruct the three-dimensional form (extent, morphology and thickness) of past mountain glaciers (e.g. Chandler and Lukas, 2017).
Ice-sheet deglaciation in upland terrain
This research theme uses geomorphological and sedimentary evidence to examine ice-sheet retreat patterns and deglaciation dynamics in upland settings, and the role of topography as ice-sheet breakup proceeds. In particular, this research is currently focused on examining the interactions of ‘local’ ice dispersal centres and ‘regional’ ice sheet lobes during ice-sheet deglaciation in Scotland. Important outstanding research issues include (a) is topography a key factor determining proposed stillstands/re-advances (i.e. are they topographically, rather than climatically/glaciologically, controlled)? and (b) did upland plateaux act as ‘havens’ for locally-sourced ice for long periods after decoupling from regional ice sheet lobes?