Gold star for Sally

Sally lecturingDr Sally Lloyd-Evans, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography has been awarded the ‘Gold Star Award for Best Lecturer in the Faculty of Science’ by Reading University Student’s Union.

Students nominate staff who they feel have had positive impact on their studies by supporting and inspiring them: “The winner of the Science Gold Star Award always gives enjoyable and interesting lectures, is incredibly enthusiastic and is always on hand to help students, whether that is via email or one to one meetings. Sally is praised by students for being supportive, patient and understanding, always being on hand to offer guidance and words of encouragement. When students were faced with a new style of working she takes time out to allow students to hand in drafts of their reports and offer hand written comments giving not only fantastic feedback, but motivational words of encouragement.”

Dr Steve Gurney, Senior Lecturer in Geomorphology, was short-listed for the award for the second year running which demonstrates how well-deserved Geography’s excellent reputation for teaching quality is.

Read about Sally

Read about Steve

More about the award

Competition for soil studies

bsss_logo_largeFor the first time this year the British Society of Soil Science will sponsor two awards for students at the University of Reading:

  • Best BSc dissertation in Soil Research
  • Best MSc dissertation in Soil Research

The annual competitions are open to all BSc and MSc students at Reading carrying out soil research for their dissertation or final year independent project. Students must be nominated to be considered for the awards.

Full details and entry forms

Review on modelling climate impact on floods highlights large uncertainties in results

Road closed due to flooding

The UK has over £82 billion worth of assets at risk from river flooding and flooded homes cause misery to thousands of people.

The NERC programme Flood Risk from Extreme Events (FREE) is research to predict floods minutes to weeks and seasons to decades ahead.

Research by Dr Hannah Cloke, Reader in Hydrology, features in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society‘s Special Issue on Flooding from Extreme Events published  this month. The article underlines the challenges in using the current generation of Regional Climate Models for local climate impact studies on flooding.

Looking at the current best practice in modelling climate impact on floods with ensemble climate projections, the study highlights the stark differences in results when using different methods and also the strong assumptions made in using Model Output Statistics to produce the estimates of future river discharge.

Read the article on-line: Modelling climate impact on floods with ensemble climate projections

View the Special Issue: Flood Risk from Extreme Events FREE 

Read about the NERC FREE programme

Read about Dr Hannah Cloke



NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility (ARSF) to assist with floodplain meadow research

Determination of radiance spectra (using a GER 3700 hyperspectral radiometer) on Yarnton Mead, an ancient floodplain meadow near Oxford.   PhD-student Suvarna Punalekar (Felix scholar, University of Reading). These data serve as calibration for the airborne remote sensing data.

Determination of radiance spectra (using a GER 3700 hyperspectral radiometer) on Yarnton Mead, an ancient floodplain meadow near Oxford. PhD-student Suvarna Punalekar (Felix scholar, University of Reading). These data serve as calibration for the airborne remote sensing data.

Anne Verhoef, Kevin White and Suvarna Punalekar a PhD student funded by the Felix Scholarship scheme, have been successful in an application to the NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility (ARSF). The ARSF will fly the NERC -funded network of sensors project (FUSE) project site at least 3 times (weather permitting), possibly more often. Airborne remote sensing provides an efficient method for the rapid collection of data over a specified area.

The FUSE project is based at Yarnton mead an ancient hay meadow that is part of the Oxford Meadows Special Area of Conservation. The team are investigating the interactions between the hydrological, thermal and nutrient regime and the functioning of plant communities in this example of a floodplain meadow.
Some floodplain meadow ecosystems have evolved into highly bio-diverse plant communities due to the continuance of traditional management practices. These areas are important for flood storage and sediment retention. The UK now has less than 1500 ha of this unique habitat remaining and the habitat has been given protection under the European Habitats Directive. In order to conserve and better exploit the services provided by floodplain meadows, an improved understanding of its functioning is essential.

Anne Verhoef with the NERC Dornier 228 aircraft

Anne Verhoef with the NERC Dornier 228 aircraft

The NERC ARSF remote campaign with FUSE field observations gathered during 2013 will provide an important contribution to monitoring the biophysical properties as well as vegetation processes. The remote sensing and in-situ data will be used in conjunction with the SCOPE model, to ensure the derived information on the functioning of the floodplain ecosystem is mechanistically sound.

Read about the Fuse project

Hear the Naked Scientist’s interview with Anne Verhoef

See a video report on NERC’s scientific research plane, the Dornier 228 

Read about the SCOPE model

Read about ARSF

Cold war satellites help glacier research


View from mount Elbrus

View from Mount Elbrus, at 5150 m above sea level, the highest mountain in Europe. Taken by Stas Kutuzov

Maria Shahgedanova presented a summary of her research at yesterday’s research seminar.

Maria grew up in Moscow, Russia and studied meteorology at Moscow State University before completing a DPhil in climate science at the University of Oxford.  Among her research interests are the response of glaciers to climate change. The melting of glaciers will contribute to sea level rise and can impact on water resources for human populations especially in arid regions.

Maria’s research has focused on several locations in south-eastern Europe and northern and central Asia including extremely remote areas such as Polar Urals and Kodar Mountains where research is extremely limited. Using various techniques – analysis of aerial photographs and satellite imagery, ground surveys using Digital Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) and GIS, climate and glaciological modelling  – Maria and her colleagues increase the accuracy of our knowledge of glacier retreat showing that in northern Asia, glaciers lost between 20 and 40% of their area since the middle of the 20th Century.  Although glaciers are shrinking fast even in the coldest regions of Siberia, using satellite imagery the team discovered four glaciers in the remote Kodar Mountains in eastern Siberia which were not on the geographical maps before.

“One of the positive outcomes of the cold war is the extensive satellite cover of the former Soviet Union by US satellites providing us with a wealth of data” says Maria. “an now we work as an international, multi-disciplinary team including scientists from the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Russia and Georgia.”

Maria’s current research project, DIOGENES – Dust Impacts on Glaciated Environments, looks at the effect of dust on glacier melt and geochemistry of glaciated environments. Dust reduces the albedo (reflectance) of glaciers and can increase melt rates. It also provides additional nutrients for the aquatic systems nourished by high-altitude glaciers and snow pack.

Read more about the DOIGENES project

Read more about Maria

First Royal Geographic Society Field Centre Grant awarded to our drylands expert

The research station at Gobabeb, Namibia

The research station at Gobabeb, Namibia

The RGS Field Centre Grant is a new annual award aimed at supporting important field work at research centres in some of the world’s poorest countries. Each project must incorporate hands-on training of local early-career scientists.

Dr Kevin White, the first recipient of this award, reports on the project: “The aim of the project was to design and deliver a training workshop in modern dune survey techniques at the Biennial Congress of the South African Association of Geomorphologists, held at Gobabeb Training and Research Centre in September 2012. There were 60 participants from 10 countries at the conference, including 25 students. The location provided easy access to the Namib dunefield, allowing us to incorporate a hands-on fieldwork component to the workshop.

The workshop took place over two days. The first session began indoors with a presentation by Kevin White on Differential GPS surveying techniques. Mark Bateman (Sheffield) then introduced optical dating methods. Charlie Bristow (Birkbeck) wrapped up the presentations with an introduction to ground penetrating radar (GPR). Conference participants were then guided to Station Dune where Bristow and White had set up the DGPS and GPR equipment. The IAG sponsored students were taught how to use the equipment and they collected data along a transect up the west flank of the dune. The second session on the following day was led by Charlie Bristow who presented the results of the previous day’s fieldwork and discussed their interpretation. All sessions were very well attended and the workshop exceeded our expectations.

With the help of the conference organiser Dr Frank Eckardt (UCT), we were able to approach the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG) to fund three bursaries to support the attendance of young African geomorphologists at the conference and workshop. The three recipients selected by IAG were Nandipha Mabuza (Swaziland), Christel Hansen (Namibia) and Johanna Niipele (Namibia).”

Watch a video about the workshop


Read about the RGS Field Centre Grant

Read about opportunities for Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Dryland Environments