Research topics and strategy

Because Earth surface dynamics depend on so many internal and external processes and their interactions, it is important to develop a holistic approach, pursuing geomorphology within a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary framework and with an eye on resolving all major processes on matching spatial and temporal scales. The research group does this with specific attention to five broad themes that encompass many of the challenges listed above. These themes are:

I Geomorphology and Landscape Dynamics

II Erosion and the Carbon Cycle

III Geophysical Geomorphology

IV Climate and Surface Processes

V Sediment Fluxes and Basin Stratigraphy

Although it is legitimate to develop focused research efforts targeted on these individual themes, there is unique value in their integration. Concepts, constraints, methods and approaches obtained within one theme are essential to addressing other themes effectively, with the potential for further links and feedbacks.

As an example, seismic monitoring of geomorphological activity in upland catchments can give insights into the exact meteorological conditions that cause surface process events, enhance predictive understanding of landscape response to climate change, and allow natural hazard risk assessment and early warning. It will also underpin a detailed evaluation of the links between the physical, chemical and biological processes that drive geological draw down of CO₂, when paired with downstream measurements of sediment and dissolved loads of rivers. This could give rise, amongst others, to rare insight into the role of geomorphological processes in ecosystem dynamics.

The notion that this integration requires pursuit of multiple themes in tandem and the application of a range of techniques and approaches is central to the group’s research strategy.