Michael Coughlan

Michael Coughlan

Network models for melting processes

Academic Profile

I look at various things in mathematical geosciences.

Current Research

I’m applying network science and complex systems theory to melting processes on a glacial scale. In particular I’m examining the formation and evolution of ice sheet melt ponds by modeling them as a network of individual ponds linked by channels distributing meltwater amongst them. By examining the system as a simple model like this we can determine the collective melting behaviour and how it affects the stability and break-up of ice sheets. This is an important process to understand for both the present day and past earth climates, such as the snowball Earth period. A “cascading failure”, like we see in disease contagion, viral memes and electricity blackouts, in an ice sheet is necessary to escape from such a stable climate as the snowball. The project utilises very modern ideas and techniques to examine both current and prehistoric issues.


Evatt, G.W. & Coughlan, M.J. (2016). A potential hidden layer of meteorites below the ice surface of Antarctica. Nature Communications 7, Article number: 10679

Associated Research Streams

Michael Coughlan

Contact information

Associated Supervisors