School of Geography and the Environment undergraduate student Rupert Stuart-Smith (St Hilda's College) has been awarded the Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).
Rupert's dissertation models the impact of climate change on Palcaraju glacier in the Cordillera Blanca mountains of Peru. The retreat of this glacier has led to the formation of Lake Palcacocha, which now threatens to burst on the city of Huaraz and is the subject of an ongoing court case in which a local farmer is attempting to hold RWE (the German energy company) legally responsible for part of the costs of protecting the city against this devastating flood, based on their contribution to climate change.
Rupert's research, as well as his subsequent work on the glacier, has demonstrated that climate change has caused the retreat of this glacier, with potential implications for the legal responsibility of major emitters of greenhouse gases.
The Alfred Steers Dissertation prize is awarded to the best undergraduate dissertation in a UK geography department.
Rupert said, "I am delighted and honoured to be awarded the Alfred Steers Prize for my undergraduate dissertation research on the role of climate change in glacial retreat in the Peruvian Andes. I am very grateful to my supervisors at the University of Oxford for their guidance throughout this project."
The award will be presented at a ceremony at the Society in London later in the year once social distancing restrictions have been lifted.