Watch Dr Richard Bailey provide an overview of the Landscape Dynamics research cluster at the SEED 2015 event.

This research cluster focuses on landscape processes, long-term landscape dynamics, dryland environments and human-landscape interactions. Work incorporates landscape processes, long-term landscape dynamics, dryland environments and human-landscape interaction as researchers address issues that form the natural world. Cross-cutting themes investigate today's key geographical question - how the physical environment shapes the earth and impacts society - through research, fieldwork and lab-based analysis. Special attention is given to: dynamics and processes in arid environments; weathering; geochronology, especially luminescence dating; forensic and heritage applications, and interactions between climate, biotic, geomorphic and human systems.

Landscape processesThis programme focuses on a) land/atmosphere interactions in dryland regions with specific emphasis on investigating multi-scale controls on aeolian dynamics and environmental controls on rock breakdown; and b) geomorphology and heritage preservation through analysis of biological and weathering impact on landscapes and historic structures. Investigations are often multi-faceted and inter-disciplinary using a range of techniques including fieldwork, laboratory simulation and computer modelling.
Long-term landscape dynamicsIn this programme a range of field and laboratory methods are utilised to address critical questions in the long term (102 - 106 years) evolution of arid environments (drylands) where a range of proxy data sources indicate that their extent has fluctuated markedly during the Quaternary period. Climate change impacts in the 21st century are widely predicted to impact on the extent and distribution of arid regions, particularly in the low latitudes. Research comprises a number of specific projects within the themes of: better and more robust utilisation of palaeoenvironmental proxies to model late Quaternary climate dynamics in arid regions; developing enhanced protocols for the application of optical dating to lacustrine and aeolian sediments; establishing the role of climate change in human migration and evolution in Africa; and predicting dryland responses to 21st century global climate change.
Dryland environmentsDrylands presently cover 40-47% of the Earth's land surface and are home to > 1 billion people. Several cluster research projects address landscape dynamics in arid lands. Work includes sand transport, dune mobilization, rock breakdown, past environmental changes, natural hazards, climate impact and the intersection of human and natural systems. Current fieldwork is in Southern and Western Africa, the Middle East and Iran, China/Mongolia and the southwestern US.
Human-landscape interactionPhysical processes can have a great impact on people and society. Research on climate, hazards, drought, dust and soils are examples of how landscape forces may influence livelihoods, communities, economics and ultimately governance. As environmental factors continue to evolve integrating the physical and social worlds is essential to address global issues.
Fluvial processesThis programme focuses on the hydrologic and geomorphic drivers of fluvial flooding. Flooding is the world's greatest hazard in terms of population exposure, with over one billion people affected every year. Yet there is still limited understanding of the drivers that influence flood characteristics in different regions of the globe. Flood estimates and models often rely on a static description of the historical flood record and of the physical landscape, when flood characteristics are changing rapidly and dynamically - through an altered frequency of meteorological extremes, shifts in land cover, and morphological changes in the ability of rivers to convey flood waters. The overarching vision of this work programme, through UKRI-funded projects EvoFLOOD (2021-2026) and DRIFT (2021-2025), is to enable new understanding of the dynamic drivers of river behaviour to better predict flooding decades into the future.

Cluster research is funded by NERC, EPSRC, ESRC, Royal Society, Leverhulme Trust, NASA, English Heritage, British Academy, Royal Geographical Society, DfID, Medecins sans Frontieres, British Council, Boise Fund and other sources.

The cluster maintains strong international affiliations, with collaborative research including engagement with the Universities of Cape Town, Witswaterand, Arizona, UCLA, Mongolia, Chinese Academy of Sciences and other overseas institutions.

News and Research Highlights

09/09/22 9 September 2022 -
Dr Louise Slater
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Louise Slater honoured with 2022 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award Each year, the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) Honors and Recognition programme recognises individuals for meritorious work or service toward the advancement and promotion of discovery and solution science. These individuals, in various career stages, represent some of the most innovative minds in their disciplines. The 2022 awards, announced this week, honour Louise Slater for her outstanding contribution to hydrology.
08/09/21 8 September 2021 -
Dr Louise Slater
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Dr Louise Slater awarded UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Dr Louise Slater is one of eight Oxford University academics who have been awarded significant financial funding from the UKRI 'Future Leaders Fellowships scheme' that was created to help develop the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders in academia and business.
10/06/21 10 June 2021 -
Image: tanor27 / Adobe Stock
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Enhancing urban life and heritage: Nature-based solutions in the city 'Nature' is currently widely considered a threat to built heritage. But a new paper from Oxford, by renowned heritage expert Professor Heather Viles and colleague Dr Martin Coombes, maintains that both the real and perceived risks can be overcome and nature-based solutions (NbS) adapted to bring the benefits of nature into urban heritage environments.
27/05/21 27 May 2021 -
Image: Health workers explaining about Covid-19 from yurt to yurt
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Pastoralist-to-Pastoralist discussion on Covid-19 Pastoralists from Asia and Africa led a unique international discussion on April 19, 2021. This inspiring event brought together pastoralists from Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Mongolia and Tanzania to talk about their lives, herding and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 'Covid-19 and Pastoralists - International Virtual Forum' was the first effort to foster pastoral debate and engagement across continents, and was organised by Drs Troy Sternberg and Ariell Ahearn.

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