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Dr Kate Winter

Dr Kate Winter, Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow, Geography and Environmental Sciences.

Dr Kate Winter’s passion for fluid, frozen worlds was kindled at an early stage, after seeing her first glacier during a school trip to Iceland.

From that moment, she dreamt of one day going to Antarctica. It took Dr Winter about 10 years to realise her dream. As a PhD student at Northumbria University, she camped on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in the southern hemisphere summer, spending six weeks in a tent in permanent daylight, living on dried Army rations and Dairy Milk chocolate.

Dr Winter, a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at Northumbria, uses radar systems to study what lies beneath Antarctica’s vast ice sheets. In May 2018, she won global recognition for the discovery of three vast canyons near the South Pole, which stretch for hundreds of kilometres, unseen from the surface. These canyons help to drain the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and, in a warmer climate, they are likely to accelerate the flow of meltwater into the surrounding oceans. Dr Winter is also tracing how sediments move through the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Dr Winter says that the support she obtained as a doctoral candidate paved the way for her recent successes. The findings of her paper on the Antarctic glacial valleys were reported by outlets such as Newsweek, The Washington Post and the BBC.

She is also passionate about having a local impact. “I want young people to be aware that you can have fascinating and exciting jobs,” says Dr Winter. “I want to get across that climate change is happening, it’s affecting us and that we’re doing something about it from the North East.”

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