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
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2022: Dr Dieter Tetzner (British Antarctic Survey). 'COrdillera Darwin Ice CorE Survey (CODICES)'
The South America Cordillera Darwin Icefield is among the greatest contributors to sea-level rise. CODICES is a scientific research project which aims to determine the impact of recent climate change on the glaciers of this unexplored icefield. This expedition will drill the first ice core in Cordillera Darwin, providing an unprecedented record that will enable the reconstruction of environmental parameters over the last century. Recent extreme warm events threaten the preservation of the information contained in the ice, highlighting the urgent need to recover ice samples before they are permanently damaged.
2021: Dr Stephan Harrison (University of Exeter). 'Rock glaciers, climate change and water supplies in the Himalaya'
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'
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.