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Environmental Systems and Processes

The research carried out by members of this Thematic Group is concerned with environmental systems, their processes, and their interactions in the present and past, as well as in the uncertain future. The research is interdisciplinary and underpinned by novel observational, experimental and computational techniques. Outcomes from the research include acquisition of new scientific data; new technologies; theoretical solutions, and improved performance of numerical models, all of which are aimed at providing a better understanding of the Earth's environmental systems, and improved management of human interaction with those systems. Particularly in relation to questions of knowledge production, science and policy, risk and resilience assessment, and environmental management, there are strong links to the Natures, Cultures, Knowledges Thematic Group (NCK). ESP research is carried out at spatial scales ranging from the microscopic to the continental, and from the tropics to the poles.

Themes

Atmospheric and volcanic processes

Atmospheric and volcanic processes

Volcanological research focuses on understanding the controls of magmatic degassing on magmatic evolution and eruption; and on the atmospheric chemistry and physics of volcanic plumes, which links it with the atmospheric research. This in turn focuses on numerical simulation of atmospheric processes, ranging from individual clouds to the global atmospheric circulation, but addressing feedback between these scales. Observations at all scales play an integral part in the process analysis, and in model validation; and volcano surveillance techniques are applied to climatic, environmental, and human impacts of volcanism today and in antiquity, and links via volcanic risk to the Natures, Cultures, Knowledges theme.

Terrestrial and coastal environments

Terrestrial and coastal environments

Water and sediment in terrestrial and coastal systems form the core of this research, which examines their fluxes in and between hillslopes, catchments, rivers, estuaries, salt marshes and beaches. This research links with ecological research questions, drawing on remote sensing, flume and field experiments, and numerical modelling (including CFD and discrete element methods) to study the interaction between vegetation, flood and tidal flows and sediment transport; and to examine ecosystem services in fluvial and coastal environments. There are links to the NCK theme through research into water management institutions (in Europe and China), flood and coastal risk, and analysis of the role of managed coastal retreat.

Biogeochemical processes and ecology

Biogeochemical processes and ecology

This research seeks to understand the complex dynamics of ecosystems, from individual plants and plant communities to the global scale of biosphere interaction with climate and the carbon cycle. It focuses on Mediterranean and Arctic ecosystems, and on understanding plant and ecosystem processes. Substantive studies run parall with development and application of technical methods, including remote sensing (terrestrial and airborne LiDAR, and other remote sensing products), and numerical modelling (agent- and individual-based models of land cover change, and global coupled models of plant physiology, ecosystem dynamics and climate change). Research in conservation practice links this Theme with the Natures, Cultures, Knowledges theme.

Group members

The Environmental Systems and Processes Thematic Group includes the following members:

Dr Harriet Allen Vegetation structure, ecosystem responses to environmental change. and palaeoecology of Mediterranean ecosystems
Dr Gabriel Amable Environmental applications of remote sensing and geomatics techniques
Dr Mike Bithell Computational modelling; geophysical flows both granular and fluid. Agent-based modelling of human-environment interactions, particularly in effecting land use changes
Dr Steve Boreham Geology, ecology, hydrology and management of coasts; woodland, urban and freshwater ecology
Dr Nick Cutler Spatio-temporal dynamics of long-term (decades to centuries) ecosystem development, particularly at high-latitudes
Dr Amy Donovan Volcanology, studying magmatic petrology, gas geochemistry and the scientific evidence used in volcanic hazard assessment.
Dr Andrew Friend Ecologist and Earth system scientist, studying vegetation-environment interactions, plant ecophysiology, and feedbacks between global change and biological processes.
Professor Hans-F. Graf Atmospheric physicist, focussing on numerical modelling of atmospheric processes, high-energy plumes and global scale circulation variability.
Dr Michael Herzog Atmospheric physicist, specialising in numerical modelling of dynamical and microphysical processes from local to global scales
Professor Nigel Leader-Williams Applied ecology and endangered species management
Dr Robert Martin Volcanology, with specific interests including volcanic gas and particle monitoring, and chemical models for volcanic emissions and plumes.
Dr Iris Möller Biophysical interactions in coastal systems, including biogeomorphological responses to climate change forcing
Professor Clive Oppenheimer Volcanology, studying volcanic and magmatic processes; the chemistry of volcanic plumes in the troposphere; and the human and environmental impacts of volcanic eruptions in the past.
Dr Gareth Rees Research interests predominantly in the development and application of spaceborne remote sensing techniques to monitoring the dynamics of Arctic glaciated and vegetated terrain.
Professor Keith Richards Fluvial geomorphologist, researching hydrology and river processes in a range of environments; river management, river and floodplain restoration, and water management.
Dr Tom Spencer Hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics, ecological processes and human interactions in coastal ecosystems

Activities

Cambridge Centre for Climate Science (CCfCS)

Cambridge Centre for Climate Science (CCfCS)

The Cambridge Centre for Climate Science (CCfCS) promotes research in Climate Science in several Departments (Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Geography, Plant Sciences and Scott Polar Research Institute) and at the British Antarctic Survey.

Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU)

Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU)

The Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU) carries out fundamental research on coastal, estuarine and nearshore processes, landforms and ecosystems; environmental monitoring in the coastal zone; and research consultancies for both governmental and non-governmental agencies. In addition, it offers scientifically-informed advice on the sustainable management of coasts and coastal ecosystems.

Cambridge Volcanology Group (CVG)

Cambridge Volcanology Group (CVG)

The Cambridge Volcanology Group (CVG) undertakes research into magmatic and volcanic processes and their impacts, through integrated field, remote sensing, laboratory and theoretical approaches; and innterfaces research and advanced volcano surveillance techniques with the volcano observatory community and other end users.

Centre for Atmospheric Science

Centre for Atmospheric Science

The Centre for Atmospheric Science is a joint venture within the University of Cambridge between the University Departments of Chemistry, Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and Geography. The Centre is one of the premier research groups in the UK for atmospheric research and attracts funding from a wide range of sources. Post-doctoral researchers and students from the UK and abroad carry out world-leading research with international collaborations.

Agent-based modelling reading group

Agent-based modelling reading group

This group of postgrads and academic staff meets fortnightly during term to discuss modelling of the interaction between human and other environmental systems, using agent-based techniques to represent aspects of human behaviour.

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Geographical Information Science (GISc) Forum

GISc is the science that underpins the management, presentation and analysis of many types of spatial (geographical) data. The forum is open to postgraduates, research staff and academic staff and is of particular interest to those whose research involves working with quantitative spatial data and/or GIS (Geographical Information Systems). There are up to 3 sessions termly, with a brief introduction to a topic of interest, followed by open discussion. Topics could be anything from an introduction to an interesting new technique, or summary of a recent paper, to descriptions of recent research results or work planned or in progress.

Water Reading Group

Water Reading Group

This group meets fortnightly during the term, and involves academic staff and postgraduates from the Geography and Engineering Departments. It meets to discuss literature in physical hydrology, land-water interactions, ecosystem services and water management institutions relevant to current research interests; and to review draft papers, grant proposals, etc.