Extensive travel led to Troy's interest in desert regions, environments and people. Thoughts on how arid lands functioned and why there was such great diversity and extent led to his DPhil on pastoral environments in the Gobi Desert (Oxford, 2009). Research focused on extreme climate hazards (drought, dzud), environments (water, steppe vegetation, desertification) and social dynamics (pastoralists, social-environmental interaction, mining and communities). Since 2005 Troy has continued to research in Mongolia; in 2010 northern China and in 2015 Central Asia became additional study sites. More recently work on drought and the Arab Spring has stimulated interest in how environmental factors contribute to contemporary conflict and displacement. In 2018 this led to visits to the Za'atari Refugee Camp, Jordan, Al-Shati Camp, Gaza and Colombia where 1 million+ Venezuelan refugees now reside.
In 2016 Troy was part of a key investigation in to how infrastructure affects environmental and social viability in the Gobi Desert. Driven by the $12 billion Oyu Tolgoi mega-mine (copper, gold) and Chinese development, the research highlighted the forces of change, contradictions between modernisation and tradition and how community perception and physical landscapes evolve over time. This led to his current work on the ESRC-GCRF Inclusive Societies 'Gobi Framework: Mediation model for sustainable infrastructure development'.
Troy has received awards and scholarships from the Royal Geographical Society, British Academy, Oman-Thesiger Desert Fellowship, British Science Association, UK-China Visiting Scholars, US Fulbright Fellow, the EU's 'Drylands Facing Change' and the UK Special Talent visa. He feels travel is an integral part of geography and encourages engagement and understanding of our globalised world
The Gobi Framework project develops a model for sustainable infrastructure development to promote inclusive social and economic development and sustainable environments in the context of Chinese investment initiatives in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Across Asia China's £1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is set to transform societies, economies and landscapes through infrastructure megaprojects. The project region has fragile environments, a lack of water, extreme geography (deserts, mountains) and temperature (+40C to -45C) that are matched with limited state capacity, poverty, rural isolation and ex-Soviet structures and thought. In this context responsibility, cooperation and transparency are key themes as we work to scale up a pioneering dispute resolution model from Mongolia to Central Asia and beyond.
Troy works with the University of Central Asia, Mongolian Institute of Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Kazakh National University, Mongolian National University, the University of Nagoya and Rakuno Gakuen University, Japan. He teaches on Water and Society in the Middle East, supervises dissertations, is the UK member of the EU's Drylands Facing Change initiative and organises the Oxford Desert Conference series (next in 2020).
Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)
Completed DPhil in 2016
The changing meaning of work, herding, and social relations in Mongolia: a study of value transformations and conditions for social change
- De Boer, T., Paltan, H., Sternberg, T. and Wheeler, K. (2021) Evaluating Vulnerability of Central Asian Water Resources under Uncertain Climate and Development Conditions: The Case of the Ili-Balkhash Basin. Water, 13(5). 615.
- Lezak, S., Ahearn, A., McConnell, F. and Sternberg, T. (2019) Frameworks for conflict mediation in international infrastructure development: A comparative overview and critical appraisal. Journal of Cleaner Production, 239. Article 118099.
- McDonnell, R., Fragaszy, S., Sternberg, T. and Veeravalli, S. (2019) Drought Policy and Management. Chapter 13 in, Dadson, S.J., Garrick, D.E., Penning-Rowsell, E.C., Hall, J.W., Hope, R. and Hughes, J. (eds.) Water Science, Policy, and Management: A Global Challenge. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. pp. 233-253. ISBN: 9781119520603.
- Sternberg, T., Ahearn, A. and McConnell, F. (2019) From Conflict to a Community Development Agreement: a South Gobi Solution. Community Development Journal: 1-6.
- Sternberg, T. (2018) Investigating the presumed causal links between drought and dzud in Mongolia. Natural Hazards, 92(1): 27-43.
- Ahearn, A., Sternberg, T. and Hahn, A. (eds.) (2017) Pastoralist Livelihoods in Asian Drylands: Environment, Governance and Risk. The White Horse Press, Cambridge. pp. 240. ISBN: 9781-874267-980.
- Sternberg, T. (ed.) (2017) Climate Hazard Crises in Asian Societies and Environments. Routledge. pp. 220. ISBN: 9781472446466.
- Sternberg, T. (2017) Water towers: Security risks in a changing climate. In, Werrell, C. and Femia, F. (eds.) Epicentres of climate and security: The new geostrategic landscape of the anthropocene. . Commissioned by The Centre for Climate and Security.
- Sternberg, T. and Edwards, M. (2017) Desert Dust and Health: A Central Asian Review and Steppe Case Study. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(11): 1342.
- Sternberg, T., Ahearn, A. and McConnell, F. (2017) Central Asian ‘Characteristics’ on China’s New Silk Road: The Role of Landscape and the Politics of Infrastructure. Land, 6(55): 1-16. (This article belongs to the Special Issue 'Arid Land Systems: Sciences and Societies').
- Sternberg, T., Werrell, C. and Femia, F. (2017) Climate Hazards, Security and the Arab Uprisings. In, Bouasria, A. and Rabi, U. (eds.) Lost in Translation: Forgotten Approaches of the Arab Spring. Sussex Publishing, UK.
- Ahearn, A. and Sternberg, T. (2016) Mongolian Pastoralism, Climate Change and Conflict. In, Troy Burnett, M. (ed.) Natural Resource Conflicts: From Blood Diamonds to Rainforest Destruction. ABC-CLIO Publishing. 911 pp. ISBN: 978-1-61069-464-3.
- Fang, X., Zou, B., Liu, X., Sternberg, T. and Zhai, L. (2016) Satellite-based ground PM2.5 estimation using timely structure adaptive modeling. Remote Sensing of Environment, 186(1): 152-163.
- Holguín, L.R. and Sternberg, T. (2016) A GIS based approach to Holocene hydrology and social connectivity in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. Archaeological Research in Asia.
- Sternberg, T. and Chatty, D. (2016) Marginality, climate and resources in pastoral rangelands: Oman and Mongolia. Rangelands, 38(3): 145-151.
- Zou , B., Xu, S., Sternberg, T. and Fang, X. (2016) Effect of land use and cover change on air quality in urban sprawl. Sustainability, 8(7): 677-690.
- Sternberg, T. (2015) Desert boundaries; the once and future Gobi. The Geographical Journal, 181(1): 61-72.
- Sternberg, T. (2015) Water mega-projects in deserts and drylands. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 32(2): 301-320.
- Sternberg, T. and Paillou, P. (2015) Mapping potential shallow groundwater in the Gobi Desert using remote sensing: Lake Ulaan Nuur. Journal of Arid Environments, 118: 21-27.
- Sternberg, T., Rueff, H. and Middleton, N. (2015) Contraction of the Gobi 2000-2012. Remote Sensing, 7(2): 1346-1358.
- Werrell, C.E., Femia, F. and Sternberg, T. (2015) Did we see it coming?: State fragility, climate vulnerability and the uprisings in Syria and Egypt. SAIS Review of International Affairs, 35(1): 29-46.
- Middleton, N., Rueff, H., Sternberg, T., Batbuyan, B. and Thomas, D. (2014) Explaining spatial variations in climate hazard impacts in western Mongolia. Landscape Ecology, 30(1): 91-107.
- Sternberg, T. (2014) Drought and extreme climate stress on human-environment systems in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. In, Braimoh, A.K. and Huag, H.Q. (eds.) Vulnerability of Land Systems in Asia. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester. 352 pp. ISBN: 978-1-118-85495-2.
- Sternberg, T. (2014) Transboundary hazard risk: the Gobi Desert paradigm. Natural Hazards, 72(2): 533-548.
- Sternberg, T. and Batbuyan, B. (2014) Integrating the Hyogo Framework into Mongolia's disaster risk reduction (DRR) policy and management. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 5: 1-9.
- Middleton, N.J. and Sternberg, T. (2013) Climate hazards in drylands: A review. Earth-Science Reviews, 126: 48-57.
- Sternberg, T. (2013) Chinese drought, wheat and the Egyptian uprising: how a localized hazard became globalized. In, Werrell, C.E. and Femia, F. (eds.) The Arab Spring and Climate Change: A Climate and Security Correlations Series. Center for American Progress. pp. 7-14.
- Sternberg, T. (2013) Tradition and transition in the Mongolian pastoral environment. Chapter 7 in, Sternberg, T. and Chatty, D. (eds.) Modern Pastoralism and Conservation: Old problems, new challenges. White Horse Press. pp. 141-159. ISBN: 9781874267744.
- Sternberg, T. and Chatty, D. (2013) Foreword. In, Sternberg, T. and Chatty, D. (eds.) Modern Pastoralism and Conservation: Old problems, new challenges. White Horse Press. pp. 1-4. ISBN: 9781874267744.
- Sternberg, T. and Chatty, D. (2013) Modern Pastoralism and Conservation: Old problems, new challenges. White Horse Press. pp. 220. ISBN: 9781874267744.
- Mol, L. and Sternberg, T. (eds.) (2012) Changing Deserts: Integrating people and their environment. The White Horse Press. pp. 346. ISBN: 978-1-874267-69-0.
- Sternberg, T. (2012) Chinese drought, bread and the Arab Spring. Applied Geography, 34: 519-524.
- Sternberg, T. (2012) Hazard Impact on Desert Environments. 13. in, Mol, L. and Sternberg, T. (eds.) Changing Deserts: Integrating People and Their Environment. White Horse Press, Cambridge. 346 pp. ISBN: 978-1-874267-69-0.
- Sternberg, T. (2012) Pastoral mosaic: livelihood, mobility, differentiation and environmental engagement on the Inner Asian steppe. In, Dierkes, J. (ed.) Change in Democratic Mongolia: social relations, health, mobile pastoralism and mining. Brill, Boston. 332 pp. ISBN: 9789004224346.
- Sternberg, T. (2012) Piospheres and pastoralists: vegetation and degradation in steppe grasslands. Human Ecology, 40(6): 811-820.