Event Type
Event Dates
2020-07-19 - 2020-07-24
Durham University Durham, United Kingdom

The IGS Head Office and the Durham Local Organising Committee have been monitoring the situation regarding the Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection. Yesterday, the UK government has advised that the pandemic will not peak for several weeks, bringing us closer to the scheduled start of our symposium.

Because of the severe travel restrictions put on scientists worldwide and in addition the advice we have received from Durham University, we have reluctantly decided to postpone the International Symposium on Ice Streams and Outlet Glaciers, scheduled to take place in Durham on 19-24th July 2020.

Later this year, we will look to reschedule the conference in either 2021 or 2022 and will provide further updates when available.

The International Glaciological Society will hold an International Symposium on ‘Ice Streams and Outlet Glaciers’. The symposium will be hosted by the Department of Geography, Durham University.


Ice streams and outlet glaciers are important components of an ice sheet’s mass balance and their behaviour directly impacts on sea level. These corridors of fast-flowing ice have been described as the ‘arteries’ of an ice sheet and their distinction is largely semantic, with ice streams bordered by slower-moving ice and outlet glaciers bordered by exposed bedrock at the surface. Since the recognition of the importance of these features in the 1970s, there has been a huge growth in their investigation. This began with the pioneering work on West Antarctic ice streams and has subsequently expanded to studies of ice streams and outlet glaciers in all of the world’s major ice sheets and ice masses. Of urgent concern for society are recent observations of dynamic changes in ice streams and outlet glaciers, which are thought to be responsible for an acceleration in global eustatic sea-level rise.

In parallel, those studying palaeo-ice sheet beds have long recognized the distinctive geomorphology of ice streams in both marine and terrestrial settings. The study of palaeo ice streams offers an unprecedented opportunity to reconstruct their behaviour over time-scales much longer than modern observations permit, generating new insights into the spatial and temporal controls on their flow, including longer-term perspectives on retreat rates and thinning histories. The beds of palaeo ice streams and outlet glaciers are also more accessible for investigation, leading to new insights regarding
the mechanisms of sediment erosion, transport and deposition beneath fastflowing ice, including the formation of subglacial bedforms.

In addition to empirical studies, there have been major advances in our ability to simulate ice-stream and outlet-glacier behaviour in numerical models. Moreover, observations and reconstructions of ice streams/outlet glaciers have provided useful data to test and calibrate numerical models and recent developments have seen improved projections of mass loss.

The aim of this symposium is to bring together scientists working on both modern and palaeo ice streams/outlet glaciers, together with those using numerical modelling, in order to facilitate greater interaction and the crosspollination of ideas, data and theoretical insight on one of glaciology’s most important topics.


We seek papers and presentations on any aspect of ice streams and outlet glaciers, including observations at a range of spatial and temporal scales and insights gleaned from numerical modelling. Key topics include (but are not limited to):

  1. Observations of ice streams/outlet glaciers and their links to the ocean–climate system
  2. Interactions between ice streams/outlet glaciers and floating ice shelves/ice tongues
  3. Geophysical studies of ice streams/outlet glaciers, including englacial and subglacial observations, and processes of sediment erosion, transport and deposition
  4. Reconstructions of palaeo ice streams/outlet glaciers, including their links to the ocean–climate system and terrestrial investigations of their subglacial sediments and landforms
  5. Numerical modelling studies of past, present and future ice-stream/outletglacier behaviour and/or of key processes relating to their behaviour
  6. The role of ice streams/outlet glaciers in ice-sheet instabilities (e.g. Heinrich events).


Participants who wish to present a paper (oral or poster) at the Symposium should submit an abstract by 21 March 2020. Accepted abstracts will be posted on the Symposium website. The Council of the International Glaciological Society will publish a thematic issue of the Annals of Glaciology on topics consistent with the Symposium themes and participants are encouraged to submit manuscripts for this volume.