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Greg Leonard profileBS (1995), MS (1998), PhD (2001) (Clarkson University), MEngNZ

Phone: +64 (0)3 479 5075
Room: 119, 1st floor, Surveying Building, 310 Castle Street


I am a civil engineer who studies how Antarctic sea ice affects and is affected by its environment.  I also use remote sensing and geospatial tools to investigate both the icy world of Antarctica and and the civil engineering infrastructure of our urban communities.  I first travelled to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1996 where I spent a few months interning at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch while studying towards a Masters degree at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York.  I also visited polar research centres in Japan and Germany during my postgraduate study, as well as interning for eight months at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, MD, USA. After completing my PhD in 2001, I returned to New Zealand and took up a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Physics at the University of Otago, where I participated in a Marsden funded research project that investigated the growth of Antarctic landfast sea ice. I made three separate trips to Antarctica during this time, including participating in a scientific cruise from Lyttelton Harbour to McMurdo Sound, Antarctic, and "wintering-over" at New Zealand's Scott Base from February – October 2003.

I next worked for 3+ years as an environmental engineer for the Duffill Watts Group, an engineering consultancy company based in Dunedin. While there I specialised in the design of water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, including taking on the role as the company's primary hydraulic modeller. Some of the larger projects that I was involved in include "Project Pure" in Wanaka (upgrade of Wanaka's wastewater system), the upgrade of Dunedin's Tahuna Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the strategic review of the Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit wastewater network.

I returned to the University of Otago in July 2008 as a faculty member in the School of Surveying. My primary roles in the School are delivering the civil engineering portion of the curriculum, establishing and maintaining links with the civil engineering industry and maintaining an active research profile in Antarctic sea ice and urban engineering infrastructure.  I am fortunate to be involved in ongoing field studies in Antarctica, which has seen me routinely travel to Antarctica since 2010 with my colleagues from the Department of Physics, the University of Canterbury and NIWA.  I have also have the great pleasure of working with a number of postgraduate students from both the School of Surveying and the Department of Physics.



Research Interests

  • Antarctic sea ice
  • Antarctic ice-ocean interactions
  • Polar geophysics
  • Urban engineering infrastructure

Current Projects

Postgraduate Student Supervision



Langhorne, P. J., Haas, C., Price, D., Rack, W., Leonard, G. H., Brett, G. M., & Urbini, S. (2023). Fast ice thickness distribution in the Western Ross Sea in late spring. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1029/2022JC019459

Richter, M. E., Smith, I. J., Everts, J. R., Russell, P., Langhorne, P. J., & Leonard, G. H. (2023). The effect of pseudofrazil particle entrainment on salinity measurements. Earth & Space Science, 10, e2022EA002564. doi: 10.1029/2022EA002564

Fraser, A. D., Wongpan, P., Langhorne, P. J., Klekociuk, A. R., Kusahara, K., Lannuzel, D., … Leonard, G. H., Mahoney, A. R., … Wienecke, B. (2023). Antarctic landfast sea ice: A review of its physics, biogeochemistry and ecology. Reviews of Geophysics, 61, e2022RG000770. doi: 10.1029/2022RG000770

Richter, M. E., Leonard, G. H., Smith, I. J., Langhorne, P. J., Mahoney, A. R., & Parry, M. (2023). Accuracy and precision when deriving sea-ice thickness from thermistor strings: A comparison of methods. Journal of Glaciology, 69(276), 879-898. doi: 10.1017/jog.2022.108

Leonard, G. H., Turner, K. E., Richter, M. E., Whittaker, M. S., & Smith, I. J. (2021). The anomalous winter 2019 sea-ice conditions in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica [Brief communication]. Cryosphere, 15(10), 4999-5006. doi: 10.5194/tc-15-4999-2021

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