Drylands 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.

Recent Projects

Richard Bailey: Development of Luminescence Dating techniques and their application to research topics in Quaternary science, including climate/environmental change, geomorphology and human evolution/dispersion. Recent work focused on the dating of palaeo-shoreline deposits and other geomorphic features, in Southern Africa, the chronology of Chinese loess deposits and development of long time-range dating methods and the dating of fossil human remains using incorporated sand.

Sallie Burrough: Palaeo-environmental reconstruction, landscape dynamics in dryland systems, Palaeolithic archaeology and human dispersal in Africa. Projects research Megafloods and Megadroughts of the upper Zambezi Valley, Zambia; Palaeolithic mega-lakes and early human occupation of the Kalahari and Landscape dynamics in the Kalahari.

James King: DO4 Models: Dust Observation in southern Africa. The research aim is to develop a new generation of model dust emission schemes. Work quantifies the spatial and temporal variability in erodibility/erosivity parameters and aeolian dust quantities and impacts within the project's 12km x 12km southern African study sites.

Nick Middleton: Climate Hazards in the Gobi Desert. The project examines natural hazard impact on people and the environment in southern Mongolia and northern China. Research addresses desert dust, desertification and achievement of the Millenium Development Goals in drylands.

Henri Rueff: Climate hazards in the Gobi desert. Unraveling the complexities of drought and dzuds in southern Mongolia and northern China helps understanding the human and environmental implications in East Asia. Research helps establish the range and sensitivities that the continent can experience - crucial for determining potential responses to a warming world.

Troy Sternberg: Natural hazard interaction with environment and society in the Gobi Desert, Asia. Research focuses on hazard identification, social exposure and resilience and evolving climate and hazard impact (drought and extreme winter) on human systems.

Abi Stone: Groundwater recharge rates and Quaternary environmental reconstruction in Namibia, southern Africa. Abi examines rainfall in the desert sand, casting new light on Quaternary environmental change in the Namib Desert, and dating generations of dunes in the Kalahari Desert.

David Thomas: Quaternary environmental changes in drylands and the low latitudes during the last glacial cycle, aeolain systems and processes, geoarchaeology in deserts, human-environmental interactions, including land degradation in drylands. Ongoing investigations have focused on the stabilised dune fields within the Kalahari sedimentary system and the dunes of the Namib and the UAE, and on the shoreline systems of former lakes within dryland Africa. New projects include environmental change in the upper Zambezi valley, dust dynamics in southern Africa (DO4 Models project) and natural hazards in the Gobi desert.

Heather Viles: Weathering, geomorphology and landscape evolution in extreme environments - hyper-arid, coastal, cold, and Mars. Current projects include studying the interplay of geomorphology and ecology in landscape evolution in Northern Namibia, the breakdown of basaltic rocks on Earth and Mars and fluvial and flood transport features on basalt in the Channeled Scablands of Washington State and in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

Giles Wiggs: Dune dynamics and processes of aeolian sediment transport. Recent investigations include studies of the development and dynamics of interdune systems in the aeolian landscape; the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for investigations of airflow over dunes; field and wind tunnel modelling of the impact of topography on aeolian sedimentary dynamics; and the role of moisture in determining thresholds of aeolian entrainment. The DO4 Models project is a major new initiative to use ground data on dust sources and emission controls to better-inform climate model development.