About the Award
The Walters Kundert Fellowship offers awards of £10,000 annually to support field research in physical geography within Arctic and/or high mountain environments, with preference for field studies that advance the understanding of environmental change past or present.
Established in 2017, the Walters Kundert Fellowship is supported through a generous donation by the Walters Kundert Charitable Trust. The Fellowship was set up to encourage applicants from across the spectrum of geographical research to enhance the understanding and well-being of the planet's Arctic and high mountain environments through research. The Walters Kundert Charitable Trust also supports postgraduate grants through the RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Awards.
Applications are open to post-PhD researchers affiliated with a UK university or research institute, or Fellows and members of the Society who are employed outside the UK.
Deadline: 23 November
All prospective grant applicants are encouraged to read our Advice and Resources pages, which include more information about the grants programme, its conditions, how to apply for a grant and what is expected if your application is successful. Please read this information carefully and send your application, or any enquiries, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walters Kundert Fellowship recipients
2021: Dr Stephan Harrison (University of Exeter). 'Rock glaciers, climate change and water supplies in the Himalaya' (subject to final approval)
In the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) climate change threatens mountain water resources as glaciers melt, and changes in runoff and water availability will have considerable negative impacts on ecological and human systems. While much has been written on the effect of climate change on glaciers in the Himalaya almost nothing has been published on the numerous rock glaciers and their role in maintaining water supplies as the climate warms. These are climatically more resilient than glaciers owing to an insulating layer of debris cover. This project will assess the ice contents and potentially water supplies of representative rock glaciers in Nepal.
2020: Dr Karen Cameron (University of Glasgow). 'Expanding glaciofluvial sediment environments: Potential hotspots for carbon cycling in a warming Arctic' (subject to final approval)
Glacial melt releases an abundance of glacial sediments, nutrients and microbiota which are deposited downstream with unknown ecological consequence. Prior in vitro investigations hint that these deposited glaciofluvial sediments contain diverse microbial communities with the ability to cycle methane. In order to gain more representative insight into the true environmental significance of these growing features, this
project will pioneer in situ, multidisciplinary investigations into their biogeochemical form and function. These studies will highlight the wider importance of these currently-overlooked sediment environments, and they will advance our understanding of the overall impact of glacial loss on downstream ecosystems.
2019: Professor Alun Hubbard. 'Ice sheet dynamics and sea-level rise: attribution of calving and submarine melting at Greenland’s marine-terminating outlet glaciers'
This research investigates the processes of submarine melting and iceberg calving at Greenland’s major marine-terminating outlet glaciers. This accelerating mass-loss is tied to oceanic and atmospheric warming, yet the processes controlling Greenland’s marine-sector dynamic-losses are poorly understood and remain the single largest wildcard in constraining the future response of the ice sheet over the next century and beyond. This fellowship will unravel the complex processes of submarine melting and iceberg calving that control mass loss at Greenland’s tidewater glaciers by combining state-of-the-art imaging with glaciological, atmospheric and oceanic measurements to directly test the hypothesis that year-round submarine melting plays a critical role in preconditioning and undermining Greenland’s tidewater glaciers.
2018: Dr Isla Myers-Smith (University of Edinburgh). 'Testing the links between permafrost disturbances and vegetation change in the Canadian Arctic'
Warming of tundra ecosystems is causing rapid rates of ecological change. Recent advances in drone technology allow for the quantification of two prominent examples of climate change responses in the Canadian Arctic: permafrost disturbance and vegetation change. The team will quantify rates of permafrost thaw and plant productivity change over time and across the landscape, explicitly testing the correspondence across spatial and temporal scales on Qikiqtaruk – Herschel Island, Yukon. This research will identify the optimum scale of observation for these ecological parameters and will inform the observation of global change impacts at sites across the tundra biome.
2017: Dr Arwyn Edwards (Aberystwyth University). 'In the bleakest midwinter: can Arctic glacial ecosystems survive in Polar night and thrive in winter heatwaves?'
Glaciers are living landscapes in summer, but it is not known if their cold-tolerant microbes are active in winter, or how they will fare as the Arctic enters a 'new abnormal' characterised by episodic mid-winter warming. This project will conduct fieldwork in the Svalbard dark season to address this lacuna in the biogeography and biogeochemistry of the Arctic. The project links sampling, in situ incubations and experimental manipulations to provide the first datasets which will reveal whether Arctic glaciers are perennial ecosystems and if glacier microbes might thrive as the Arctic faces bleaker midwinters characterised by unseasonal warming events.