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Department of Geography



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

Associate Professor 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)
  • 2001-2022: University Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (with duties at the Scott Polar Research Institute)
  • 2022-present: Professor of Polar Geoinformatics, University of Cambridge


  • 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

Dynamics of high-latitude vegetation and interaction with climate

Long-term collaborative programme, with the Geography Faculty of Moscow State University, British Antarctic Survey, the Russian Academy of Sciences, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, and the Arctic University of Norway, to develop and apply spaceborne monitoring techniques to tundra and forest change in the Russian Arctic and elsewhere as a consequence of climate change, airborne industrial pollutants and anthropogenic factors including reindeer husbandry.

Cryospheric remote sensing

Development of new spaceborne and airborne techniques for mapping surface properties of glaciers and monitoring snow cover.

Remote sensing of high-latitude fauna

This is a long-running research area which began with the study of reindeer in northern Russia. Collaboration with British Antarctic Survey has developed new methods for studying penguins and whales and is currently focussed on seals.

Current PhD students

  • Tim Reilly
  • Prem Gill (jointly with BAS)

Recent PhD students

  • Praveen Teleti: Reconstruction of the historical climate of the Southern Ocean from whaling ships' logbooks
  • Hannah Cubaynes (jointly with BAS): Whales from space: Assessing the feasibility of using satellite imagery to monitor whales
  • Rebecca Vignols (jointly with BAS): Understanding past and future changes in northern Fennoscandian snow cover
  • Wenkai Guo: Remote sensing characterisation of the forest-tundra ecotone
  • Jennifer Brown (jointly with BAS)
  • Anna Maria Trofaier: The seasonal dynamics of Arctic surface hydrology in permafrost environments
  • Allen Pope: Multispectral classification and reflectance of glaciers: in situ data collection, satellite data algorithm development, and application in Iceland and Svalbard
  • Ekaterina Shipigina: Remote sensing methods for environmental monitoring of human impact on sub-Arctic ecosystems in Europe
  • Wiliam Eucker: A geospatial analysis of Arctic marine traffic

Recent M. Phil. students

  • Joseph Everest
  • Tatiana Bebchuk
  • Iain Wheel
  • Amelia Vale
  • Eleanor Absalom
  • Johanna Schoenecker
  • Charlotte Daffern
  • Conor Bamford
  • Matthew Steadman Jones

Supervision of doctoral and master's students

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students and MPhil in Polar Studies students. Please look at my current and recent research interests, my current students and the titles of my past PhD students' theses and MPhil students' dissertations, then get in touch with me with your ideas about research topics that I may be able to supervise.

I am specifically seeking applicants for the following PhD project within the NERC Doctoral Training Programme:

CE207: Linking beaver population dynamics to ecological regime shifts in northern Canada


[Publications will be loaded automatically from the University's publications database...]

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.
  • Co-director of the International Polar Year core programme PPS Arctic
  • Member of steering committee, International Circumpolar Remote Sensing Symposium (since 2010).
  • Member of Editorial Board of 'Remote Sensing' (since 2019).