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Tun Jan Young

Tun Jan Young

Ph.D. Student in Polar Studies

TJ's research integrates electrical engineering and field glaciology to investigate the basal and englacial regimes of the Greenland Ice Sheet.


My interest in the polar landscape originated from my academic background in marine mammal science. As part of the Marine Conservation Ecology group at Duke University and the Duke Marine Lab in North Carolina, USA, my research focused on the foraging ecology and spatial modelling of endangered seals and whales. I became more involved with the physical aspects of climate change when I was invited to collaborate with the NOAA Pacific Marine Ecological Laboratory in Washington, USA, to re-evaluate temperature data and the associated metadata recorded aboard the HMS Plover which was stationed at Barrow, Alaska during the mid-1800s, and one of many ships assigned to the Franklin Rescue Mission.

I now focus my research on using a variety of geophysical techniques to monitor and constrain past and present changes in glacier dynamics, and to infer the processes beneath the ice surface that induced these changes. In doing so, I have conducted fieldwork in 6 expeditions on both the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets.


  • 2013 – 2018: Ph.D. in Polar Studies. Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge (St. Edmund's College), UK.
  • 2012 – 2013: M.Phil. with Distinction in Polar Studies. Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge (St. Edmund's College), UK.
  • 2008 – 2012: B.S. with Distinction (Magna cum laude) in Biology with Marine Sciences; B.A. in Music with Clarinet Performance; Minor in Political Science. Duke University, North Carolina, USA.


My PhD research investigates the basal and englacial processes of glacier motion in Greenland and the mass loss induced through these processes. Specifically, my field research involves using autonomous phase-sensitive radio-echo sounders (ApRES) to observe and measure glacier flow and deformation, and bed topography and basal melt rates to high (millimetre) accuracy on Store Glacier in the Uummannaq region in Greenland. Using these results, I hope to be able to provide insight into the basal and englacial environment of Store Glacier in 1, 2 and 3 dimensions. Thus, my research involves close collaborative work with those of Joe Todd, Nick Toberg, and Craig Stewart, who are fellow PhD students at SPRI, as well as maintaining collaborations between the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), University College, London (UCL), University of Aberystwyth, and Stanford University.

My research using ApRES forms part of the Subglacial Access and Fast Ice Research Experiment (SAFIRE), which aims to investigate and understand the mechanical and hydrological conditions at the ice-bed interface that drive the fast flow observed on Store Glacier, a large marine-terminating glacier in western Greenland. The outcomes of SAFIRE, including the results observed from ApRES, underpin the ERC-funded RESPONDER project that extends the aims of SAFIRE to understand how the hydrological networks at the bed of Store Glacier evolve intra- and inter-annually, and how this evolution impacts ice flow both further inland and at the terminus, where ice is directly discharged into the ocean. In both projects, ApRES monitoring supports data gleaned from englacial and subglacial sensors installed using hot-water drilling, as well as novel remote sensing techniques from GPS and AUV instruments.

Additionally, through the University of Aberystwyth, I am a partner in the Mass2Ant project, which aims to understand and characterise the local, regional, and continental-scale processes responsible for the variability in surface mass balance (SMB) in coastal Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. By using observations from optical televiewer (OpTV) logs and analyses from ice cores, the SMB of the study site can be reconstructed to the last 500 years.

My PhD work is supported by a full scholarship from Chung Wei Yi Co. Ltd., a parent investment management company located in Taipei, Taiwan.

Research grants

Dynamical Model of Ice Transport and Evolution (DynaMITE)

PI and Co-Is: Poul Christoffersen, Joe Todd, Tun Jan Young, Nick Toberg
Funding: Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) DECI-12 Tier-1 Access, 600,000 CPU hours (2014-2015)

Antarctic Science – Breaking into the Public Domain

PI and Co-Is: As part of the UK Polar Network
Funding: Foreign & Commonwealth Office – British Antarctic Territories, £3,500 (2013 - 2014)


  • Young, T. J., Schroeder, D. M., Christoffersen, P., Lok, L. B., Nicholls, K. W., Brennan, P. V., Doyle, S. H., Hubbard, B., and Hubbard, A. (2018) Resolving the internal and basal geometry of ice masses using imaging phase-sensitive radar. Journal of Glaciology, 64(246): 649-660. 10.1017/jog.2018.54
  • Doyle, S. H., Hubbard, B., Christoffersen, P., Young, T. J., Hofstede, C., Bougamont, M., Box, J. E., and Hubbard, A. (2018) Physical conditions of fast glacier flow: measurements from boreholes drilled to the bed of Store Glacier in West Greenland. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123(2): 324-348. 10.1002/2017JF004529
  • Hofstede, C., Christoffersen, P., Hubbard, B., Doyle, S. H., Young, T. J., Diez, A., Eisen, O., and Hubbard, A. (2018) Variable extent of anisotropic ice and soft sediment in the basal zone of Store Glacier, West Greenland, derived from seismic reflection data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123(2)349-362. 10.1002/2017JF004297
  • Tilling, R. L., Young, T. J., Christoffersen, P., Lok, L. B., Brennan, P. V., and Nicholls, K. W. (2017) Radar observations of Arctic ice. in: Kelman, I. Arcticness: Power and Voice from the North. Pages 27-39, UCL Press, London, United Kingdom. 10.14324/ 111.9781787350137


  • Demonstrator, Geography Tripos, Part 1B: Intermediate Statistics, University of Cambridge (2014 – 2016).
  • Supervisor and Demonstrator, Geography Tripos, Part 1B: Remote Sensing and the Climate System, University of Cambridge (2013 – 2016).
  • Graduate Teaching and Lab Assistant, ENVIRON 765: Intermediate Geospatial Analysis for Coastal and Marine Management, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University (2012).

External activities

  • Member, Meetings Committee (2017 - present), American Geophysical Union.
  • Ex-Officio (2017 - 2018), Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (Council).
  • Vice-President (2016 - 2017), President (2014 - 2016), and Webmaster (2013 – 2014), UK Polar Network.
  • Returning Officer (2015 - 2017), Treasurer (2014 - 2015), and Environmental Officer (2012 – 2013), St. Edmund's College CR, University of Cambridge.
  • Scientific Steering Committee (as part of APECS; 2015 - present), Arctic Science Summit Week 2017.
  • Steering Committee (as part of UKPN; 2014 – 2016), UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership.