Dr Varyl Thorndycraft

Personal profile

Varyl Thorndycraft graduated with a BSc. in Geography from the University of Sheffield before undertaking an MSc. in Recent Environmental Change at the University of Liverpool. Varyl then went to the University of Exeter to research his PhD entitled "The archaeology of tin mining on Dartmoor: a sedimentary approach". He finished his PhD in 2000 and moved to Madrid where he was employed for 6 years as a postdoctoral researcher/fellow in the Institute of Natural Resources of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas. Varyl was appointed Lecturer in Physical Geography at Royal Holloway in 2006. 

Research interests

Varyl is a geomorphologist with research interests in Late Quaternary palaeohydrology and digital terrains. In particular his research focuses on reconstructing glaciofluvial environments of Late Pleistocene palaeo-ice-sheets, and the response of Holocene flood magnitude and frequency to multiple drivers including climate change and human impact. Varyl's research uses field mapping and stratigraphy alongside GIS analysis of digital terrain data (including LiDAR) and hydraulic flood modelling. He is currently working on projects in Patagonia and the UK.



GG1015 Digital Geographies: Remote Sensing and GIS 

I teach the physical geography half of this 0.5 unit module. After introducing the use of remote sensing in physical geography students start to develop practical skills in geomorphological mapping using satellite data in ArcMap. Student activites include mapping glacial moraines, and a problem-based learning exercise focused on locating the best site for a hydroelectric dam. Students present a map as part of the course assessment giving them experience of cartography and map design in GIS.

GG2021 Earth Surface Processes and Hazards 

I teach the second half of this 1.0 unit module, focusing on glacial and aeolian geomorphology with a concluding section on tectonics and long-term landscape evolution. The natural hazards covered in this part of the course include glacial lake outburst floods and tectonic hazards (volcanoes and earthquakes). The lectures are supported by virtual fieldwork seminars using Google Earth.

GG3028 Digital Landscapes

The aim of this course is to examine how remote sensing has led to paradigm shifts in our knowledge of global environmental change. During the course we will see how remote sensing has contributed to improved understanding of environmental change in different environmental settings and over a range of timescales. In particular we focus on: a) digital terrain data and earth surface processes; and b) sateliite observation of the hydro-, cryo- and biospheres. Students are given practical experience of using GIS to handle remotely sensed data, including high resolution LiDAR topographic data, and LANDSAT satellite imagery.

MSc. Quaternary Science GG5229: Late Quaternary Palaeohydrology

The aim of this course is to examine key themes in Late Quaternary palaeohydrology -in particular to understand glaciofluvial and fluvial system responses to multiple drivers. To achieve this the course covers the Late Pleistocene palaeohydrology of deglaciating palaeo-ice-sheets and Holocene fluvial palaeohydrology. The course is supported by a field trip.

MSc. Quaternary Science GG5293: Techniques in Quaternary Research (1)

Varyl leads TQR1 which focuses on remote sensing and GIS techniques. After an introduction focusing on applications of remote sensing in Quaternary geomorphology we explore the use of high resolution LiDAR data in Quaternary mapping, including a GIS practical using LiDAR data. Bethan Davies covers the use of LANDSAT in glacial mapping on day 2 of the course. Training is also provided in GIS cartography and students undertake their own digital mapping projects.

GG1032 Spain Fied Course

Since 2014 Varyl has been a member of the Physical Geography teaching team on the Nerja field course, supporting the Quaternary environmental change and hydrology and slope processes field days. 

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