Geohazards and Earth Processes Research Group
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Ice and Avalanches



Aircraft icing

In collaboration with Prof Kwing-So Choi, Kwang-Leong Choy and Dr Donald Giddings
Faculty of Engineering, Nottingham University, UK

This EU funded project ICECOAT will develop novel coating and electro-thermal anti-icing and de-icing strategies for aircraft. Together with PhD student Zaid Janjua, I’ll be working on theoretical descriptions of runback icing and developing an experiment to characterise ice accretion and adhesion. The goal will be to discover the key physical parameters controlling icing for optimisation of the engineering strategy.

Debris Flows

In collaboration with Dr Perry Bartelt and Prof Jim McElwaine
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, SLF, Davos, Switzerland University of Durham, UK

The subject of Paloma Paleo’s thesis, we are looking to develop our understanding of these multiphase flows, the different flow regimes and the relation between particle motion and fluid pressure. Experimental data will hopefully provide useful information for testing and validating models, such as velocity and density profiles alongside basal stress and pressure measurements. 

Ice collisions

In collaboration with Dr Richard Hill and Dr Michael Swift
School of Physics & Astronomy, Nottingham University, UK

Some preliminary experiments that I ran, with Masters student Catherine Alton, indicated that the moisture arising through collisions between ice particles significantly influenced the dynamics of those particles in a rotating drum configuration (see article). So we became interested in what really happens during those ice particle collisions. An EPSRC Research Development Fund grant allowed us to develop a method for creating binary ice particle or particle cluster collisions, under controlled environmental conditions, within the bore of a superconducting magnet. This magnet is sufficiently powerful to levitate one of the particles, making it relatively straightforward to drop a second particle onto it. Particle trajectories are captured through high speed video.

Powder snow avalanches

In collaboration with Prof. Michel Louge, Cian Carroll and Todd Cowen
Cornell University, USA

Funded by the ACS Petroleum Research Fund and the subject of Cian’s thesis, this work studies suspension currents, such as powder snow avalanches, that are driven by massive frontal entrainment of bed material. We have shown that rapid entrainment of solid material can be achieved by air pressure pulses at the front of a suspension current. Although apparently similar to conventional gravity currents, this rapid entrainment of mass is vital to the current’s dynamics. We have coined the term ‘eruption current’ to underline the difference.

Suspension current erosion
This project, newly funded by the Royal Society, uses hydrogel beads to discover the mechanism behind bed erosion in suspension currents. Hydrogel beads will be ideal for this, since they are close to neutrally buoyant and they can be carefully ‘tuned’, e.g. by adding fluorescent dye or refractive index matching. By releasing a lock-exchange gravity current over a bed of hydrogel beads and tracking the fluid and particle motion separately, we aim to discover the role of fluid shear, particle splashes and pore pressure pulses in suspending material under varying conditions.

PhD Student projects

  • Scaling laws and scale effects in granular slides

Student: Andy Jackson

Funded by the Faculty of Engineering’s High Fliers scheme

Summary: An experimental investigation of the genesis and structure of instabilities at the front of laboratory avalanches of expanded polystyrene beads on steep slopes.

Fluid-Particle Interaction in Geophysical Flows: Debris Flows

Student: Paloma Paleo

Summary: In collaboration with WSL, Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, SLF, Paloma is studying the relationship between particles and fluid pore pressure in debris flows.  

Aerofoil Runback Icing

Student: Zaid Janjua

Summary: This project will look into theoretical models of runback ice accretion on aircraft wings to establish the key parameters in determining accretion rate. This work relates to the ICECOAT project, to find novel coating and electro-thermal aircraft anti-icing and de-icing strategies. Zaid will also be developing an experiment to test and validate the models.



Turbidity currents: RA45C7 Royal Society

Ice collisions: Bridging the gaps by UNICAS ( Mike Swift and Rik Hill from Physics, University of Nottingham)

Ice accretion: CleanSky RH45C4


What’s the opposite of a splash


What’s the opposite of a splash 2


Geohazards and Earth Processes

Nottingham Geospatial Building
Jubilee Campus
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2TU

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 15445