The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Physical Geography

Physical Geography

Physical geography has a long-standing international reputation for excellence


Physical geography at Newcastle University has a long-standing international reputation for excellence.

Our research primarily addresses global research agendas, but also engages with national and regional initiatives.

We carry out our research in a wide variety of physical environments across the globe, supported by active collaboration with colleagues within Newcastle University and beyond, both nationally and internationally.

Staff and postgraduate students within physical geography benefit from an inclusive and supportive research culture. Our academic staff conduct vibrant, high-quality research programmes supported by successful bids to highly competitive sources of funding, such as the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Examples of recent research projects include:

  • new homonid discovery in South Africa
  • Lake Suigetsu ultra-high-resolution palaeoclimate project (NERC-funded)
  • impacts of recent catastrophic floods in the North of England (NERC-funded)
  • impact of meltwater floods during the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption in Iceland (NERC-funded)

We conduct our research in the field and laboratory using cutting-edge techniques. These are supported by our laboratories and field equipment, managed by our technical staff.

The University has also invested in our Cosmogenic Isotope Laboratory, which supports our research at Newcastle and externally, via collaborative projects.


Our research group staff have significant experience and expertise in analysis of physical geography.


Dr Rupert Bainbridge
Post-doctoral Research Associate


Dr Stephen Brough
Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 4729

Dr Rachel Carr
Lecturer in Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6436

Ana Contessa
Physical Geography Technician

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 6431

Dr Alice Cree
Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Dr Nick Cutler
Lecturer in Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 2084727

Dr Simon Drew
Physical Geography Technician

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 6431

Dr Stuart Dunning
Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3251

Dr Bunmi Eniola
Physical Geography Facilities Manager

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6431

Dr Andrew Henderson
Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 3086

Dr Borbala Hortobagyi
Research Associate in Physical Geography


Professor Steve Juggins
Professor of Quantitative Paleoecology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8799

Dr Andy Large
Reader in River Science

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6342

Dr Helen Mackay
Teaching Fellow (Physical Geography)

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 5344

Professor Darrel Maddy
Prof of Quaternary Science

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6440

Dr Anne-Sophie Meriaux
Reader in Quaternary Geochronology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8939

Dr Emma Pearson
Principal Research Associate

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6757

Dr Matthew Perks
Lecturer in Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 4728

Dr Neil Ross
Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 5111

Professor Andrew Russell
Professor of Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6951

Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol
Lecturer in Physical Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 3567

Research Students

Our postgraduates are working on a wide variety of physical geography subjects. These range from paired lake oxygen isotope records of climate change in southern Alaska to mid-Pleistocene transition in the Asian monsoon.

Research students


Safaa Al Zerouni

Controls on morphological change within wandering gravel-bed rivers over decadal time scales: the River Coquet, Northumberland, UK

Amy Barrett

A study of the formation, development and coalescence of supraglacial melt ponds in the Bhutan

Jake Collins-May

Origins of Glacial, Fluvial and Glaciofluvial Landforms in the Nereidum Montes; Mars

Will Smith


Ryan Dick

 Finding tsunami causing landslide deposits in the lakes of New Zealand

Sonja Felder

Mid-Pleistocene transition in the Asian monsoon

Devin Harrison

 Sedimentary architecture of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanogenic jökulhlaups: Gígjökull, Iceland

Emily Hill

The Greenland Ice Sheet in a warming world: Determining drivers of current and future change on northern Greenland outlet glaciers

James Linegan


Arminel Lovell

Explaining the varying response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change

Alex McKee

Assessing the spatial pattern of rockfalls above glaciers in the Mont Blanc area and their coupling with glaciers. 

Jack Oxtoby

Formation of ice cliffs and their impacts on melt rates on Annapurna South Glacier


The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology has modern laboratories, field equipment stores and workshops spread over four buildings. There is a range of facilities and specialist equipment for use in both teaching and research.

Our geomorphology and sediment, chemistry and biology laboratories are used for a combination of teaching and research. Our research specific laboratories comprise organic geochemistry and palaeoecology, a spatial analysis lab, and cosmogenic isotope lab.

All laboratories are equipped for computer network access and have either been recently built or refurbished. We also have two walk-in cold rooms for sample storage, an outside store and workshop, and a Land Rover.

Field equipment

Field equipment includes a range of technologies for:

  • topographic survey (levels, hand-held GPS, robotic and manual total stations, laser range-finders and Leica-differential GPS)
  • soil and sediment sampling (corers and augers for inorganic and organic sediment, gravity and piston corers for use in lakes)
  • biological and chemical analysis (aquatic kick nets, YSI water column chemistry sonde, portable HACH-Lange spectrophotometers, ultra-meters),
  • hydrological analysis (including stage recorders, rugged digital cameras and multi-parameter probes)

We also three inflatable boats with outboard motors.

Our laboratories

Links with facilities in other schools

In addition to the above facilities, we have strong links with Civil Engineering and Geosciences where we have additional access to a wide range of both standard and specialised field and analytical equipment.

This includes:

  • rock crushing equipment
  • total organic carbon (TOC) analysers
  • gas chromatography (GC)
  • gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GCMS)
  • high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LCMS)

Find out more about University-wide facilities.


  • Hill EA, Carr JR, Stokes CR. A Review of Recent Changes in Major Marine-Terminating Outlet Glaciers in Northern Greenland. Frontiers in Earth Science 2017, 4, 111.
  • Carr JR, Bell H, Killick R, Holt T. Exceptional retreat of Novaya Zemlya's marine-terminating outlet glaciers between 2000 and 2013. The Cryosphere 2017, 11(5), 2149-2174.
  • Carr JR, Stokes CR, Vieli A. Threefold increase in marine-terminating outlet glacier retreat rates across the Atlantic Arctic: 1992–2010. Annals of Glaciology 2017, Epub ahead of print.
  • Kirkham JD, Rosser NJ, Wainwright J, Vann-Jones EC, Dunning SA, Lane VS, Hawthorn DE, Strzelecki MC, Szczucinski W. Drift-dependent changes in iceberg size-frequency distributions. Scientific Reports 2017, 7, 15991.
  • Sugden DE, Hein AS, Woodward J, Marrero SM, Rodes A, Dunning SA, Stuart FM, Freeman SPHT, Winter K, Westoby MJ. The million-year evolution of the glacial trimline in the southernmost Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 2017, 469, 42-52.
  • Dufresne A, Dunning SA. Process dependence of grain size distributions in rock avalanche deposits. Landslides 2017, Epub ahead of print.
  • Schmidt M, Fuchs M, Henderson ACG, Kossler A, Leng MJ, Mackay AW, Shemang E, Riedel F. Paleolimnological features of a mega-lake phase in the Makgadikgadi Basin (Kalahari, Botswana) during Marine Isotope Stage 5 inferred from diatoms. Journal of Paleolimnology 2017, Epub ahead of print.
  • Roberts SJ, Monien P, Foster LC, Loftfield J, Hocking EP, Schnetger B, Pearson EJ, Juggins S, Fretwell P, Ireland L, Ochyra R, Haworth AR, Allen CS, Moreton SG, Davies SJ, Brumsack H-J, Bentley MJ, Hodgson DA. Past penguin colony responses to explosive volcanism on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature Communications 2017, 8, 14914.
  • Oksman M, Weckström K, Miettinen A, Juggins S, Divine DV, Jackson R, Telford R, Korsgaard NJ, Kucera M. Younger Dryas ice margin retreat triggered by ocean surface warming in central-eastern Baffin Bay. Nature Communications 2017, 8, 1017.
  • Starkey E, Parkin G, Birkinshaw S, Large A, Quinn P, Gibson C. Demonstrating the value of community-based (‘citizen science’) observations for catchment modelling and characterisation. Journal of Hydrology 2017, 548, 801–817.
  • Large, A., Gilvear, D. & Starkey, E. (2017) Ecosystem Service-Based Approaches for Status Assessment of Anthropocene Riverscapes, in: Kelly, J.M., Scarpino, P., Berry, H., Syvitski, J. & Meybeck, M. (eds) Rivers of the Anthropocene, University of California Press.
  • Cordier S, Briant B, Bridgland D, Herget J, Maddy D, Mather A, Vandenberghe J. The Fluvial Archives Group: 20 years of research connecting fluvial geomorphology and palaeoenvironments. Quaternary Science Reviews 2017, 166, 1-9.
  • Cara M, Van der Woerd J, Alasset PJ, Benjumea J, Mériaux AS. The 1905 Chamonix earthquakes: active tectonics in the Mont Blanc and Aiguilles Rouges massifs. Swiss Journal of Geosciences 2017, epub ahead of print.
  • Roberts SJ, Monien P, Foster LC, Loftfield J, Hocking EP, Schnetger B, Pearson EJ, Juggins S, Fretwell P, Ireland L, Ochyra R, Haworth AR, Allen CS, Moreton SG, Davies SJ, Brumsack H-J, Bentley MJ, Hodgson DA. Past penguin colony responses to explosive volcanism on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature Communications 2017, 8, 14914.
  • Perks MT, Warburton J, Bracken L, Reaney SM, Emery SB, Hirst S. Use of spatially distributed time-integrated sediment sampling networks and distributed fine sediment modelling to inform catchment management. Journal of Environmental Management 2017, (e-Pub ahead of print).
  • Jeofry H, Ross N, Corr HFJ, Li J, Gogineni P, Siegert MJ. A deep subglacial embayment adjacent to the grounding line of Institute Ice Stream, West Antarctica. Exploration of Subsurface Antarctica: Uncovering Past Changes and Modern Processes. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 2017, 461.
  • Paxman GJG, Jamieson SSR, Ferraccioli F, Bentley MJ, Forsberg R, Ross N, Watts AB, Corr HFJ, Jordan TA. Uplift and tilting of the Shackleton Range in East Antarctica driven by glacial erosion and normal faulting. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 2017, 122(3), 2390-2408.
  • Carrivick JL, Tweed F, Ng F, Quincey D, Malalieu J, Ingeman-Nielsen T, Mikkelsen A, Palmer S, Yde J, Homer R, Russell A, Hubbard A. Ice-Dammed Lake Drainage Evolution at Russell Glacier, West Greenland. Frontiers in Earth Science 2017, 5, 100.
  • Heiri O, Tóth M, van Hardenbroek M, Zweifel N. Chironomiden- und Cladocerenfossilien. In: Bleicher, N; Harb, C, ed. Zürich-Parkhaus Opéra. Eine neolithische Feuchtbodenfundstelle. Band 3: Naturwissenschaftliche Analysen und Synthese. Zürich, Germany: Baudirektion Kanton Zürich, Amt für Raumentwicklung, Kantonsarchäologie, 2017, pp.30-50.
  • Monteath A, van Hardenbroek M, Davies L, Froese D, Langdon PG, Xu X, Edwards ME. Chronology and glass chemistry of tephra and cryptotephra horizons from lake sediments in northern Alaska, USA. Quaternary Research 2017, 88(2), 169-178.
  • Rinta P, Bastviken D, Schilder J, van Hardenbroek M, Stötter T, Heiri O. Higher late summer methane emission from central than northern European lakes. Journal of Limnology 2017, 76(1), 52-67.
  • Morlock MA, Schilder J, van Hardenbroek M, Szidat S, Wooller MJ, Heiri O. Seasonality of cladoceran and bryozoan resting stage δ13C values and implications for their use as palaeolimnological indicators of lacustrine carbon cycle dynamics. Journal of Paleolimnology 2017, 57(2), 141-156.