David J.A. Evans is Professor of Physical Geography at Durham University.

Evans read geography at St David’s University College, Lampeter, graduating in 1982. Alongside studying, he captained the cricket team for two years. He remembers receiving a personal letter of congratulations from the college principal, Brian Morris, when the side defeated the University of York. For the first time ever, the Lampeter eleven reached the national knockout stages, losing to Durham in the quarter finals.  

After Lampeter, Evans did an MSc at the Memorial University of Newfoundland; he researched the glacial history of the Selamiut Range and Nachvak Fjord area of northern Labrador. Following this, he remained in Canada to study for a PhD at the University of Alberta. His research was based on the glacial history of NW Ellesmere Island, the mountainous northernmost tip of Canada’s Arctic Archipelago. The final thesis was entitled Late Quaternary History of Phillips Inlet and the Wootton Peninsula, North West Ellesmere Island, Canadian High Arctic.  

On returning to Britain, Evans’ first post was as lecturer at King’s College, University of London. He then moved to the University of Glasgow, where he stayed for fourteen years. In 2004, he moved to Durham University, where he has worked ever since. 

Evans describes himself as a glacial geomorphologist; his work concentrates on the reconstruction of former glaciers and ice sheets through time. Geomorphology is defined as the science concerned with understanding the form of the earth’s land surface and the processes by which it is shaped, in the present as well as in the past. Evans’ research has developed landsystems models to assess glacial process-form relationships, (the links between physical process and Earth surface features). His work in this area has covered humid, mid-latitude mountains, for instance in Britain, as well as the arid High Arctic. Along with this, Evans has studied glacial sedimentary environments, particularly the relationship between glacier dynamics and the genesis of subglacial till, the sediments laid down by the direct action of glacial ice. He has also contributed to reconstructions of former glacial ice cover. This has included histories of glaciation and the associated sea level change in the Canadian High Arctic and Arctic mainland, Svalbard, Arctic Norway, Iceland and South Georgia.  

Evans’ first authored book was Glaciers & glaciation, (Arnold, 1998), with a second edition published in 2010. He and his co-author Douglas I. Benn aimed to cover all important aspects of glaciers and their effects. Hodgkins predicted that the volume would become a benchmark text for years to come, writing ‘It is difficult to find any minor faults … and impossible to find any major ones.’ Clarke concluded that the book is ‘a modern synthesis that will be appreciated by professional scientists and graduate students both inside and outside the discipline. This book is the best of its kind, an impressive contribution to science and to education.’ 

 Evans’ next major book was Glacial Landsystems, (Arnold, 2003) with contributions from a wide range of glaciation experts, and showcasing the definitive exemplars for the different signatures of former glaciations on the Earth’s surface. This was followed by his book entitled A Practical Guide to the Study of Glacial Sediments (Arnold, 2004), with a second edition coming in 2021.  

Evans has also written Till: a glacial process sedimentology, (Wiley Blackwell).  Till deposits are significant as they provide critical insights into the environment beneath ice-sheets and glaciers, and the processes occurring there. Evans produced a comprehensive review of the published literature on ‘till science,’ drawing on his own research and photograph archive to develop a rationale and nomenclature for future research directions. Evans is also the author of Vatnajokull National Park (South Region) – Guide to a glacial landscape legacy (VNP, 2016), and Glaciation: a very short introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018).  

As well as numerous chapters in books and encyclopedias, Evans has written around 160 journal articles. Google-Scholar currently lists his h-index as 59, (59 papers cited at least 59 times each). He was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Busk Medal in 2017 for excellence and originality in the study of glacial landscapes and processes and empowering the next generation. Evans comments, ‘I have been extremely fortunate to have undertaken my career research in some of the world’s most impressive landscapes, especially the least accessible of those locations such as the Canadian Arctic, Svalbard, Iceland and South Georgia.’ 

Sources 

Durham University. (2021). Professor David J.A. Evans. Retrieved July 13 2021 from https://www.durham.ac.uk/staff/d-j-a-evans/#biography 

Evans, D.J.A., Clark, C.D. & Mitchell, W.A. (2005). The last British ice sheet: a review of the evidence utilised in the compilation of the glacial map of Britain. Earth-Science Reviews, 70(3-4), 253-312. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2005.01.001 

Hodgkins, R. (1999). Glaciers and glaciation. D.I. Benn and D.J.A. Evans. Journal of Quaternary Science, 14(7), 721-722. Retrieved July 13 2021 from https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/doi/epdf/10.1002/%28SICI%291099-1417%28199912%2914%3A7%3C721%3A%3AAID-JQS451%3E3.0.CO%3B2-Q 

Phillips, E. (2019). Holocene book review: Till: a glacial process sedimentology. The Holocene, 29(1), 181-182. Retrieved July 13 2021 from https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1177/0959683618816541 

Durham University. (2017). Geography professors honoured for outstanding achievements. Retrieved July 14 2021 from https://www.dur.ac.uk/news/research/?itemno=31584