skip to primary navigation skip to content

Mr Toby J Benham, BSc, MSc

Mr Toby J Benham, BSc, MSc

Institute Associate

Remote Sensing / GIS / Software. Formerly Software Engineer, now working on Glaciological application of Earth Observation data and production of software tools in support of this.


Toby Benham graduated from Royal Holloway College, University of London in 1983, and - following an initial twelve-year career in Software Systems Development with CAP / SEMA Group / BAeSEMA - studied for a Masters Degree in Environmental Remote Sensing at the University of Aberdeen.

His research interests are in the application of remote sensing and GIS methods to environmental issues. He was based initially at Bristol Glaciology Centre, where he worked on the acquisition and reduction of airborne ice-penetrating radar data from the large ice caps of the Canadian Arctic islands. He participated in airborne data acquisition surveys for this over Devon and Ellesmere Islands in Arctic Canada. This work was in support of study of the form and flow of Arctic ice masses, and Toby has continued to make use of this and other datasets at SPRI. He continues to provide Remote Sensing / GIS / Software support to Glaciological research. His Remote Sensing experience has broadened to include use of Passive Microwave data and SAR Interferometry, as well as further satellite and aerial optical imagery (e.g ASTER), across various regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. In 2003, he participated in ship-borne marine geophysical survey of the Glacio-marine environment in Pine Island Bay, Antarctica. He has also worked on Remote Sensing of Permafrost terrain over the North Slope region of Alaska, concentrating in particular on thermokarst lake seasonal and interannual variation. More recently, Toby has again been working in relation to surveys of the Greenland Ice Sheet (2011, 2012) and Canadian Arctic (2014) ice thickness and bed properties. Toby provided support to the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019, firstly in investigating patterns of summer sea ice in the Weddell Sea over the last two decades, and then providing daily updates of imagery and data to the expedition vessel during the actual expedition in January & February 2019.


  • 2019: Institute Associate
  • 2002-2019: Research Associate at Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
  • 1999-2002: Research Assistant in the Bristol Glaciology Centre, University of Bristol.
  • 1998-1999: One year of short-term contract work in Remote Sensing / GIS / WWW.
  • 1995-1998: Career break, including an extended period of travelling followed by one-year M.Sc. course.
  • 1983-1995: Software Engineer with CAP / SEMA Group / BAeSEMA in a number of software systems development project roles.


  • B.Sc. Computer Science, Royal Holloway College, University of London
  • M.Sc. Environmental Remote Sensing, University of Aberdeen


Toby's research interests are generally in the application of remote sensing and GIS methods to the study of the environment, and the generation of software as required to support this. His M.Sc. Dissertation "NOAA AVHRR Sub-Pixel Snow Classification" was undertaken in connection with staff at Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (MLURI), Aberdeen, in the context of their involvement in the HydAlp project which sought to use Earth Observation data for Snow-Melt Runoff modelling.

His work within SPRI has so far concentrated on:

  • Acquisition and reduction of airborne Radio Echo Sounding (RES) data. Integration of GPS / other positional data with RES data. Use of optical satellite imagery in conjunction with RES data analysis. Investigation of visual methods to help clarify ambiguity in echo sources.
  • Digital Elevation Model production for ice surface elevation, ice thickness and bedrock elevation from processed RES results. Investigation and selection of interpolation methods taking into account survey flight patterns and points / flow features of interest within the data. The models produced will support further work on modelling of the Devon and Austfonna Ice Caps.
  • Conversion and utilisation of HDF-EOS format data - in particular ASTER data. Investigation of DEM production from ASTER data, and its application for glacier change analysis.
  • Image correlation for calculation of ice velocities from multi-date imagery. It is intended that this method will be integrated with results from other techniques such as inSAR velocity extraction to provide a complimentary set of tools for determining velocity for a range of ice velocities and image conditions.
  • Application of Passive Microwave data for the detection of melting on ice caps.
  • SAR Interferometry for calculation of topography and ice displacement.
  • Participation in aircraft- and ship-based field campaigns for acquisition of data.
  • Software production for tools / utilities in support of above, and also for the integration of Marine Geophysical datasets.
  • Remote Sensing of Permafrost-related terrain parameters, including thermokarst lake development.
  • Characterization of summer sea ice in the Weddell Sea and its variation 2002 - 2018, from Passive Microwave and Moderate Resolution Image sensor data, and provision of supporting imagery & data to the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019.

Toby is a member of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society.


  • Van Wychen, W., D. O. Burgess, L. Gray, L. Copland, M. Sharp, J. A. Dowdeswell, and T. J. Benham (2014), Glacier velocities and dynamic ice discharge from the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, Canada, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, doi:10.1002/2013GL058558.
  • Palmer, S. J., Dowdeswell, J. A., Christoffersen, P., Young,D. A., Blankenship, D. D., Greenbaum, J. S., Benham, T., Bamber, J., Siegert, M. J. 2013 "Greenland subglacial lakes detected by radar". Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 40, 1–6, doi:10.1002/2013GL058383, 2013
  • Kargel, J. S., Ahlstrøm, A. P., Alley, R. B., Bamber, J. L., Benham, T. J., Box, J. E., Chen, C., Christoffersen, P., Citterio, M., Cogley, J. G., Jiskoot, H., Leonard, G. J., Morin, P., Scambos, T., Sheldon, T., and Willis, I. 2012. 'Brief communication. Greenland's shrinking ice cover: "fast times" but not that fast', The Cryosphere, 6, 533-537, doi:10.5194/tc-6-533-2012, 2012.
  • Moholdt, G., Heid, T., Benham, T., and Dowdeswell, J.A. "Dynamic instability of marine glacier basins of the Academy of Sciences Ice Cap, Russian High Arctic". Annals of Glaciology, 53(60), 193-201, doi:10.3189/2012AoG60A117, 2011.
  • Christoffersen, P., Mugford, R. I., Heywood, K. J., Joughin, I., Dowdeswell, J. A., Syvitski, J. P. M., Luckman, A., and Benham, T. J.: Warming of waters in an East Greenland fjord prior to glacier retreat: mechanisms and connection to large-scale atmospheric conditions, The Cryosphere, 5(3), 701-714, doi:10.5194/tc-5-701-2011, 2011.
  • Mair, D., Burgess, D., Sharp, M., Dowdeswell, J.A., Benham, T., Marshall, S. and Cawkwell, F., 2009. Mass balance of the Prince of Wales Icefield, Ellesmere Island, Nunvaut, Canada. Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 114, doi:10.1029/2008JF001082.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A., Benham, T.J., Strozzi, T., Hagen, J.O. 2008. Iceberg calving flux and mass balance of the Austfonna ice cap on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, Journal of Geophysical Research. 113, F03022, doi:10.1029/2007JF000905.
  • Williamson, S., Sharp, M., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Benham, T.J. 2008. Iceberg calving rates from northern Ellesmere Island ice caps, Canadian Arctic, 1999-2003. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 54, No. 186, 2008, 391-400.
  • McMillan, M., Nienow, P., Shepherd, A., Benham, T., Sole, A. 2007. Seasonal evolution of supra-glacial lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 262 (2007) 484-492.
  • Rivera, A., Benham, T., Casassa, G., Bamber, J., Dowdeswell, J. 2007. Ice elevation and areal changes of glaciers from the Northern Patagonia Icefield, Chile. Global and Planetary Change (2006), doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2006.11.037
  • Shepherd, A., Du, Z., Benham, T.J., Dowdeswell, J.A., and Morris, E.M. 2007. Mass Balance of Devon Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic. Annals of Glaciology, Volume 46, 2007, 249-254.
  • Benham, T., Shepherd, A. 2007 Chapter 2. INTEGRAL Data Set, in INTEGRAL – Interferometric Evaluation of Glacier Rheology and Alterations, Sharov, A. and Jackson, M. (Eds). ISBN 978-3-200-01123-6.
  • Sharov, A., Benham, T., Shepherd, A., Backer, S., Rott, H., Nagler, T., Zakharov, A. 2007 Chapter 4. Combining INSAR & Altimetry, in INTEGRAL – Interferometric Evaluation of Glacier Rheology and Alterations, Sharov, A. and Jackson, M. (Eds). ISBN 978-3-200-01123-6.
  • Evans, J., Dowdeswell, J.A., Ó Cofaigh, C., Benham, T.J. & Anderson, J.B., 2006. Extent and dynamics of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet on the outer continental shelf of Pine Island Bay during the last glaciation. Marine Geology, 230 (1-2), 53-72. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2006.04.001
  • Burgess D.O., Sharp M.J.,Mair D.W.F., Dowdeswell J.A. and Benham, T.J., 2005. Dynamics and ice-berg calving rates of the Devon Island ice cap, Nunavut, Canada. Journal of Glaciology, Volume 51, Number 173, March 2005, pp. 219-230(12)
  • Siegert M.J., Pokar M., Dowdeswell J.A. and Benham T, 2005. Radio-echo layering in West Antarctica: a spreadsheet dataset. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 30, 1583-1591 (2005), doi:10.1002/esp.1238
  • Dowdeswell, J.A., Benham, T.J., Gorman, M.R., Burgess, D. and Sharp, M.J., 2004. Form and flow of the Devon Island Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic. Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 109, F02002, doi:10.1029/2003JF000095.
  • Benham, T.J. and Dowdeswell, J.A., 2003. A simple visualisation method for distinguishing between subglacial-bed and side-wall returns in radio-echo records from outlet and valley glaciers. Journal of Glaciology, v. 49, p. 463-468.
  • Dowdeswell, J.A. and Benham, T.J., 2003. A surge of Perseibreen, Svalbard, examined using aerial photographs and ASTER high-resolution satellite imagery. Polar Research, v. 22, p. 373-383.
  • Benham, T. J. (1998) M.Sc. Dissertation, University of Aberdeen: "NOAA AVHRR Sub-Pixel Snow Classification"
  • Dunham, R., Benham, T., Wright, G., Miller, D. and Wright, R. (1998) Sub-pixel analysis poster [1MB PDF format] presented at ERDAS UK Users group meeting 1998. (1 Mb)