About Us

The Environmental Dynamics research group is a multi-disciplinary research team comprising eleven academic staff (including 1 RCUK and 2 NERC Fellows), six postdoctoral researchers, five technicians and a project administrator. Our common aim is to provide leadership in key aspects of contemporary environmental dynamics and global change. Research foci include (1) characterising environmental variability throughout the Quaternary (climatic change, biogeochemical cycling, and ecosystem vulnerability); and (2) investigating interactions between climatic change, human disturbance, and land-surface processes. Our research focuses on regions especially sensitive to environmental change such as high-latitude, alpine and fire-prone) and those with sparse environmental archives (tropics) to reduce uncertainty in modelled future-change scenarios and advance understanding of the Earth system. Our approaches involve field investigations with sampling sites on all continents and the application of state-of-the-art laboratory analytical approaches.

 Key areas of research include:

  • advancing the application of stable isotopes in tree rings as indicators of climate/environmental change
  • the application of compound-specific isotopes, notably in lake sediments, and biogeochemical cycling of silicon isotopes
  • determining the nature and timing of rapid climatic events using a multi-proxy approach including tephrochronology, biological methods, and radiocarbon and cosmogenic dating
  • quantification of effects of different wildfire regimes on soil organic carbon dynamics and on hydro-geomorphic responses in forested environments
  • quantifying hydrological and erosional impacts and recovery following various logging practices in a rainforest environment
  • elucidating the causes and environmental effects of soil hydrophobic behaviour including the development of tools for predicting its contribution to flood events

Members of the group lead the EC FP-VI Integrated Project Millennium, the Royal Society SE Asia Rainforest Research Programme, the QRA's Tephra in Quaternary Science (TIQS) Research Group, the cross-School Hydrophobicity Research Team and Interrogating trees as archives of environmental Sulphur variability.

Our research has also been funded by NERC, EPSRC, NSF, ESF and other major funding bodies. The group includes Editors in Chief for the international journals The Holocene and International Journal of Wildland Fire.


Peter Abbott Tephrochronology of ice and marine cores; geochemical characterisation of tephra
Anna Bourne Tephrochronology
Siwan Davies Tephrochronology, ice-cores and sedimentary records, palaeoclimatology
Stefan Doerr  Wildfires, soil hydrology, karst geomorphology; Editor Int. J. Wildland Fire
Kath Ficken Biogeochemistry, compound-specific isotopes, palaeoenvironments; WISE 2 Network 
Mary Gagen  Palaeoclimatology, climate change, stable isotope dendroclimatology; Assoc Ed. of The Holocene
Neil Loader  Stable isotope palaeoclimatology, dendroclimatology
John Matthews  Physical geography of glacial forelands, Editor The Holocene 
Danny McCarroll  Climate change, stable isotopes in tree rings, the last glaciation
Geraint Owen  Geology, sedimentary processes, facies analysis, palaeoenvironments
Glen Reynolds Research Officer: SE Asia Rainforest Research Programme
Iain Robertson  Dendrochronology, isotope chemistry; Assoc. Ed. Tree-ring Research
Rick Shakesby  Land degradation, wildfires, Quaternary environmental change
Jenny Stanford Deglacial sea-level rise, abrupt millennial-scale climate variability, proxies for bottom current flow, dating techniques and quaternary planktonic foraminifera. 
Alayne Street-Perrott  Biogeochemical cycles, palaeoenvironmental reconstruction
Emilia Urbanek Soil carbon, soil water repellency
Rory Walsh  Hydrological processes, tropical rainforest management