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Physical Geography

A world-leading group of scientists at the forefront of research on earth surface processes, environmental change, and shifting human-environment relationships.


Research blends cutting-edge field and lab-based science, remote sensing and GIS, with expertise in mathematical and statistical modelling, to make fundamental advances in geomorphology, glaciology, environmental change and geohazards.

Work is advanced through 5 streams:

  • water science
  • past environments
  • glaciology
  • ecosystems
  • geomorphology / geohazards

Members of the group carry out research in Antarctica, Iceland, Patagonia, Peru, Turkey, USA, Tibet, Japan, Alaska, Greenland, Australia, China, and Europe. Staff also play leading roles in multiple international networks (DIMA, SCAR, MOXXII, IODP, ICDP).

Joint research with external organisations includes: the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Ouseburn Catchment Partnership, Newcastle City Council, UK Met Office, British Antarctic SurveyBritish Geological Survey and the Cabinet Office’s Natural Hazards Partnership.

Our Research

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:

  • catchment dynamics and impacts of intense rainfall-induced floods (NERC SINATRA consortium)
  • UKRI GCRF Living Deltas interdisciplinary research hub to safeguard delta futures through more resilient communities and sustainable development across the Red River and Mekong (Vietnam), and Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (Bangladesh, India).
  • 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.