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Dr Gareth Rees M.A., Ph.D.

Dr Gareth Rees M.A., Ph.D.

University Senior Lecturer with duties at the Scott Polar Research Institute and Fellow of Christ's College

Physicist with research interests predominantly in the development and application of spaceborne remote sensing techniques to monitoring the dynamics of Arctic glaciated and vegetated terrain.



  • 1983-1985: Postdoctoral research at Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, University of Cambridge. Research Fellow, Christ's College, Cambridge
  • 1985-1991: Senior Assistant in Research, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
  • 1991-2001: Assistant Director of Research, Scott Polar Research Institute.
  • 2001-2001: University Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (with duties at the Scott Polar Research Institute)
  • 2001-present: University Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (with duties at the Scott Polar Research Institute)


  • BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, 1980.
  • MA, University of Cambridge, 1984.
  • PhD in Radio Astronomy, University of Cambridge, 1985.
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics, 1996.


Major Research Interests

Remote sensing of glaciers

Development of new spaceborne and airborne techniques for mapping surface properties of glaciers

Dynamics of snow cover

Including the development of new monitoring techniques and the analysis of regional and circumpolar datasets

Impact of industrial pollution on high-latitude vegetation

Long-term collaborative programme, with the Geography Faculty of Moscow State University, to develop and apply spaceborne monitoring techniques to tundra and forest change in the Russian Arctic and elsewhere as a consequence of airborne industrial pollutants.

Impact of reindeer grazing on tundra vegetation

Part of an international programme to study impacts of climate and local factors on high-latitude vegetation.

PPS Arctic / Tundra-Taiga Initiative

International programmes under the auspices of the International Polar Year and the International Arctic Science Committee to study the current status and climatological sensitivity of the tundra-taiga ecotone. More information is here.

Current PhD and MSc students

  • Dinah Molloy-Thompson
  • Ekaterina Shipigina
  • Allen Pope
  • Tim Reilly
  • Anna Maria Trofaier
  • William Eucker



  • Rees, W.G. (1990) Physical Principles of Remote Sensing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Rees, W.G. (1994) Physics by Example. Cambridge University Press.
  • Landshoff, P.V., Metherell, A.J.F. and Rees, W.G. (1997). Essential Quantum Physics (second edition). Cambridge University Press.
  • Rees, W.G. (1999) The Remote Sensing Data Book. Cambridge University Press.
  • Rees, W.G. (2001) Physical Principles of Remote Sensing (Second edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Kapitsa, A.P. and Rees, W.G. (eds) (2003) Ekologiya severa: distantsionnye metody izuchenniya narushennykh ekosistem - na primere Kol'skogo Poluostrova [Ecology of the North: Remote Sensing of ecosystem disturbance - case study of Kola Peninsula]. Moscow: Scientific World (246 pp).
  • Rees, W.G. (2005) Remote Sensing of Snow and Ice. Taylor and Francis/CRC Press Inc
  • Rees, W.G. (2006) Osnovy distantsovannogo zondirovaniya. Moscow: Technosfera. [Translation of PPRS2 into Russian]
  • Pellikka, P. and Rees, W.G. (eds) (2010) Remote Sensing of Glaciers. Taylor and Francis.
  • Rees, W.G. (2012) Physical Principles of Remote Sensing (Third edition). Cambridge University Press

Books in press and in preparation

Selected recent publications

  • Rees, W.G. (2000). The accuracy of Digital Elevation Models interpolated to higher resolutions. Int. J. Remote Sensing 21, 7-20.
  • Rees, W.G. (2000). Simple masks for shadowing and highlighting in SAR images. Int. J. Remote Sensing 21 2145-2152.
  • Williams, P.J., Rees, W.G., Riseborough, D.W. and White, T.L. (2000). Strategies for development of cost-effective amelioration procedures for oil spills in cold regions. In: Contaminant hydrology: cold regions modeling, ed. S.A. Grant and I.K. Iskandar. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers. pp 39-56.
  • Marchand, Y. and Rees, W.G. (2000) Applications of remote sensing to oil contamination of frozen terrain. Permafrost and actions of natural and artifical cooling. International Institute of Refrigeration, Orsay, pp. 46-56.
  • Rees, W.G. (2001). Improving the accuracy of low-cost GPS measurements for remote sensing applications. Int. J. Remote Sensing 22 871-881.
  • Saich, P., Rees, W.G. and Borgeaud, M. (2001). Detecting pollution damage to forests in the Kola Peninsula using ERS SAR. Remote Sensing of Environment 75 22-28
  • Cruwys, E. and Rees, G. (2001). The Polar Record Glacier. Polar Record 37 154-156.
  • Kapitsa, A.P., Golubeva, E.I., Kravtsova, V.I., Krasnushkin, A.V., Spektor, V.A., Rees, W.G. and Tutubalina, O.V. (2001) Методологиа диагностики состояния антропогенно трансформированных зкосистем Арктики. [Methodology for analysis of the condition of anthropogenic transformation of the Arctic ecosystem]. In: Территориальные системы природопользования. Анализ и синтез [Territorial systems of wildlife management: Analysis and synthesis], ed. A.P. Kapitsa. Moscow: Moscow State University. 113-127.
  • Rees, W.G. and Steel, A.M. (2001). Radar backscatter coefficients and snow detectability for upland terrain in Scotland. Int. J. Remote Sensing. 22 3015-3026.
  • Tutubalina, O.V. and Rees, W.G. (2001). Vegetation degradation in a permafrost area as seen from space: Noril'sk (1961-1999). Cold Regions Science and Technology 32 191-203.
  • Rees, W.G. and Steel, A. (2001). Simplified radar mapping equations for terrain correction of spaceborne SAR images. Int. J. Remote Sensing 22 3643-3650
  • White, T.L., Williams, P.J., Marchand, Y. and Rees, W.G. (2001) Microstructural alterations in permafrost-affected soils due to hydrocarbon contaminants: implications for subsurface transport. Proc. 2nd International conference on Contaminants in Freezing Ground, 7-21.
  • Callaghan, T.V., Crawford, R.M.M., Eronen, M., Hofgaard, A., Payette, S., Rees, W.G., Skre, O., Sveinbjörnsson, B., Vlassova, T.K. and Werkman, B.R. (2002). The dynamics of the tundra-taiga boundary: an overview and suggested coordinted and integrated approach to research. Ambio Special Report 12, 3-5.
  • Rees, G., Brown, I., Mikkola, K., Virtanen, T. and Werkman, B. (2002). How can the dynamics of the tundra-taiga boundary be remotely monitored? Ambio special report 12, 56-62.
  • Crawford, R.M.M., Jeffree, C.E. and Rees, W.G. (2003). Paludification and forest retreat in Northern Oceanic environments. Annals of Botany 91, 213-226.
  • Rees, W.G., Williams, M. and Vitebsky, P.V. (2003). Mapping land cover change in a reindeer herding area of the Russian Arctic using Landsat TM and ETM+ imagery and indigenous knowledge. Remote Sensing of Environment 85, 441-452.
  • Lange, M.A., Callaghan, T.V., Harding, R.J., Koster, E., Kozlov, M., Kuhry, P., Mariussen, Å., Rees, G., Skjoldal, H.R., Slagstad, D., Streit, U., Vitebsky, P. and Wassmann, P. (2003). The Barents Sea impact study (BASIS): methodology and first results. Continental Shelf Research 23 1673-1694.
  • Rees, W.G., Tutubalina, O.V. and Golubeva, E.I. (2004). Reflectance spectra of subarctic lichens between 400 and 2400 nm. Remote Sensing of Environment 90 281-292.
  • Rees, W.G. (2004). Least-cost paths in mountainous terrain. Computers and Geosciences 30 203-209.
  • Arnold, N.S. and Rees, W.G. (2004). Self-similarity in glacier surface characteristics. Journal of Glaciology 49 167 547-554.
  • Gaye, A., Marchand, Y. and Rees, G. (2004). Étude par imagerie radar des pollutants pétrolières. Cybergeo: revue européenne de géographie 273 2 June 2004 (14 pp).
  • Kapitsa, A.P., Golubeva, E.I., Kravtsova, V.I., Krasnushkin, A.V., Lurie, I.K., Malyshev, B.V., Rees, W.G. and Tutubalina, O.V. (2005). Monitoring of the state of Northern ecosystems. Proc. Russ. Acad. Sci. [Geogr. Ser.] 2 82-91.
  • Rees, W.G. (2005) A new bipolar map projection. Polar Record 41 215-222.
  • Arnold, N.S., Rees., W.G., Devereux, B.J. and Amable, G.S. (2006) Evaluating the potential of high-resolution airborne LiDAR in glaciology. International Journal of Remote Sensing 27 1233-1251.
  • Rees, W.G. and Arnold, N.S. (2006) Scale-dependent roughness of a glacier surface: implications for radar backscatter and aerodynamic roughness modelling. Journal of Glaciology 52 (177) 214-222.
  • Bravo, M. and Rees, G. (2006) Cryo-politics: environmental security and the future of Arctic navigation. Brown Journal of World Affairs 13 (1) 205-215.
  • Rickaby, R.E.M., Bard, E., Sonzogni, C., Rostek, F., Beaufort, L., Barker, S. Rees, G. and Schrag, S.P. (2007) Coccolith chemistry reveals secular variations in the global ocean carbon cycle? Earth and Planetary Science Letters 253 83-95.
  • Rees, W.G. (2007) Characterisation of Arctic treelines by LiDAR and multispectral imagery. Polar Record 43 345-352.
  • Rees, W.G. and Arnold, N.S. (2007) Mass balance and dynamics of a valley glacier measured by high-resolution LiDAR. Polar Record 43 311-319.
  • Rees, W.G. and Danks, F.S. (2007) Derivation and assessment of vegetation maps for reindeer pasture analysis in Arctic European Russia. Polar Record 43 290-304.
  • Rees, W.G. (2008) Comparing the spatial content of thematic maps. International Journal of Remote Sensing 29 3833-3844.
  • Zöckler, C., Miles, L., Fish, L., Wolf, A., Rees, G. and Danks, F. (2008) Potential impact of climate change and reindeer density on tundra indicator species in the Barents Sea Region. Climatic Change 87 119-130.
  • Rees, W.G., Stammler, F.M., Danks, F.S. and Vitebksy, P. (2008) Vulnerability of European reindeer husbandry to global change. Climatic Change 87 199-217.
  • Curry, A.M., Porter, P.R., Irvine-Fynn, T.D.L., Rees, G., Sands, T.B. and Puttick, J. (2009). Quantitative particle size, microtextural and outline shape analyses of glacigenic sediment reworked by paraglacial debris flow. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 34 (1) 48-62.
  • Arnold, N. and Rees, G. (2009). Effects of digital elevation model spatial resolution on distributed calculations of solar radiation loading on a High Arctic glacier. Journal of Glaciology 55 (194) 973-984.
  • Hofgaard, A., Rees, G., Tømmervik, H., Tutubalina, O., Golubeva, E., Lukina, N., Høgda, K.A., Karlsen, S.R., Isavea, L. and Kharuk, V. (2010) Role of disturbed vegetation in mapping the boreal zone in northern Eurasia. Applied vegetation science 13, 460-472.

External activities

  • Member of the Advisory Group for the International Science Initiative for the Russian Arctic (ISIRA), from 1998.
  • Member of IASC steering committee for the Taiga-Tundra Interface, from 2000.
  • Scientific Editor, Annals of Glaciology (2001)
  • Co-director of the International Polar Year core programme PPS Arctic