Department / group: Geography, School of Social Sciences
Google Scholar URL: Not available

Research interests:

I am a cold-climate geomorphologist with 30 years’ research experience. My research aims to build links between process dynamics and landform chronologies, especially in present and past glacial environments. This involves research on glaciology and debris transport on modern glaciers, and mapping, dating and interpretation of relict landsystems.

I have worked on a variety of themes in the past, and publications arising from these themes are listed. These themes include lake-calving glaciers in New Zealand and Italy, tephrochronology and Holocene glacier fluctuations in Iceland, long-term evolution of landscapes of glacial erosion, and rock glaciers in New Zealand.

Career history:

1999 – Senior Lecturer, Geography, University of Dundee

1991-1999 Lecturer, Geography, University of Dundee

1990-91 Teaching Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Aberdeen

1989-90 Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Edinburgh

1985-89 Ph.D. Department of Geology, University of Canterbury (New Zealand)

Active research projects:

Debris-covered glaciers

The formation of supraglacial debris covers has been shown to influence the mass balance, flow and climatic response of glaciers in important ways, during both negative and positive mass balance. Research on European glaciers (in association with Dr P. Deline, Université de Savoie, Dr B. Brock, University of Northumbria, Prof C. Smiraglia and Dr G. Diolaiuti, University of Milan) is addressing the question of how reduced glacier extents under warming climate will affect their surface condition, and thereby their response to climate change. This involves a variety of projects on the debris transport system (e.g. Kirkbride & Deline 2013), on modelling of sub-debris ablation (Brock et al. 2010; Fyffe et al., 2014), as well as wider contributions to alpine glacial geomorphology (e.g. Deline & Kirkbride 2009; Kirkbride & Winkler 2012; Lukas et al., 2013). The focus of my research in recent years has been the small Glacier d’Estelette, which Philip Deline and I have been monitoring since 2004.

Glacial history of Scotland

I am researching the extent and timing of glacier advances phases in the eastern Highlands of Scotland, with a view to refining and extending known chronologies. In the Cairngorm Mountains, field mapping has revealed a more complex sequence of deglaciation than hitherto recognised, including ice-sheet readvance, ice-dammed lake formation and multiple moraine stages. Measurements of boulder edge-roundness (Kirkbride 2005) allow bouldery tills dating from the Younger Dryas Stadial to be distinguished from older deposits. Application of cosmogenic 10Be dating confirms the Younger Dryas age of cirque moraines, but has also led to the discovery of a Little Ice Age glacier (Kirkbride et al. 2014), which has prompted considerable media interest. Further research is in progress.

Recent publications:

Deline, P., Gruber, S., Delaloye, R., Fischer, L., Geertsema, M., Giardino, M., Hasler, A., Kirkbride, M., Krautblatter, M., Magnin, F., McColl, S., Ravanel, L. and Schoeneich, P. (in press). Ice loss and slope stability in high-mountain regions. Chapter 17 in Haeberli, W. and Whiteman, C. (editors) Snow- and Ice-Related Hazards. Elsevier.

Fyffe, C.L.; Reid, T.; Brock, B.W.; Kirkbride, M.P. and Diotri, F. (in press) A distributed energy-balance melt model of a debris-covered glacier. Journal of Glaciology.

Kirkbride, M.P.; Everest, J.D.; Benn, D.I., Gheorghiu, D. and Dawson, A.G. (2014). Late Holocene and Younger Dryas glaciers in the northern Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland. The Holocene 24, 141-148.

Kirkbride, M.P. and Deline, P. (2013) The formation of supraglacial debris covers by primary dispersal from transverse englacial debris bands. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 38, 1779-1792.

Lukas, S.; Benn, D. I.; Boston, C.M.; Brook, M.S.; Coray, S.; Evans, D.J.A.; Graf, A.; Kellerer-Pirklbauer-Eulenstein, A.; Kirkbride, M.P.; Krabbendam, M.; Lovell, H.; Machiedo, M.; Mills, S.C.; Nye, K.; Reinardy, B.T.I.; Ross, F.H. and Signer, M. (2013). Clast shape analysis and clast transport paths in glacial environments: a critical review of methods and the role of lithology. Earth Science Reviews 121, 96-116.