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Matthew Wise

Matthew Wise

Ph.D. Candidate in Polar Studies

Iceberg ploughmarks on Antarctic shelf and fjord floors, and their implications for palaeoglaciology.


Having always had an interest in the physical environment of the Earth, Matt studied Physical Geography at Aberystwyth University from 2010-2013, achieving a First Class honours degree. As part of his degree, Matt studied as an Erasmus student at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). During his time in Svalbard Matt was able to contribute to a multi-year dataset of mass balance and ablation measurements of Linnébreen; a cirque glacier located within Linnédalen, West Spitsbergen. Matt also participated in a research cruise aboard the R/V Helmer Hansen where new bathymetric and stratigraphic data from Rjipforden and Duvefjorden, Northern Nordaustlande were gathered and subsequently analysed. From this cruise, Matt developed a fascination for the marine geophysical analysis of high-latitude margins, which today forms the basis of his Ph.D. research. In 2013, Matt joined the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, having gained a full Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) studentship to fund his Ph.D. research.


  • 2013- Present: Ph.D. Candidate, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge (Jesus College), UK. Funded by the UK Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC).
  • 2010-2013: B.Sc. (Hons.) (First Class) in Physical Geography, Aberystwyth University. Thesis: 'Can terrestrial constructive margin characteristics establish a tectonic history within the Phaethontis Quadrangle (MC-24), Mars?'

Awards and grants

  • B.B. Roberts Fund (2016) for attendance and presentation of research at the AGU Fall Meeting, San Fransisco. £1000
  • Jesus College Travel Bursary (2016) for attendance and presentation of research at the AGU Fall Meeting, San Fransisco. £485
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Studentship (2013-2016), awarded by the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. ~£21000 per annum.
  • ERASMUS Studentship (2012) for study at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). £1700
  • Open Scholarship (2010-2013), Aberystwyth University. £3000


Matt's Ph.D. research is focused on the detailed examination of iceberg ploughmarks preserved upon and within the sediments of Antarctic continental shelf and fjord floors. Focusing on a number of study sites around the continental margins of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, the systematic and statistical analysis of ploughmark dimensions and distribution is undertaken from high-resolution multi-beam swath bathymetric data from a number of sources.

Taking these parametrics, together with an analysis of the thickness and calving dynamics of contemporary iceberg producing margins of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, Matt aims to make assessment of the former ice-dynamic behaviour of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and concurrently address a paucity of Antarctic iceberg ploughmark studies.


Peer-reviewed articles

  • Wise M.G., Dowdeswell J.A., Jakobsson M., and Larter R.D. (2017). Evidence of marine ice-cliff instability in Pine Island Bay from iceberg-keel plough marks, Nature 550 (7677), 506-510. doi:10.1038/nature24458.

Conference presentations

  • Wise M.G., Dowdeswell J.A., Larter R.D., and Jakobsson M. (2016) Iceberg ploughmarks indicate past rapid iceberg calving and retreat of the Pine Island-Thwaites Ice Stream due to marine ice-cliff instability processes, AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts, C53C-0732.


  • Supervisor, Geographic Tripos Part II Dissertations, 2015-Present.
  • Supervisor, Geographic Tripos Part IA Physical Geography, 2014-2017.
  • Supervisor, Geographic Tripos Part IB Glacial Processes, 2014-2015.

External activities

  • September 2014 – June 2017: Chapel Clerk, Jesus College Cambridge
  • January 2014 – September 2014: Chapel Secretary, Jesus College Cambridge