The Environment Research Group

The Environment Research Group seeks to understand environmental processes, human impacts and natural change, to guide better planning, design and management of our natural and built environments for people, places and nature. Our research work focuses on four main themes:

Environmental Change

We research environmental and climatic change over timescales covering the late Quaternary (thousands of years) to the present day, and spatial scales from individual catchments to continental ice sheets. Research includes palaeoecology, geomorphology and glaciology. Ultimately, we aim to understand past environmental, climatic and geomorphological processes in order to better understand modern processes and change.

Recent projects include

  • Glacier micro-velocity in Iceland
  • Glacial hydrology
  • South East Iceland palaeo-environment study
  • Eskers as a proxy for subglacial meltwater drainage, in Iceland, Svalbard, Finland, and Mars.

Water, Soils and Pollution

We aim to address studies of water in the terrestrial environment at scales from surface chemical interactions (nanometre) to soil pore (mm), profile (m), plot/reach (100 m), catchment (km) and regional (100 km) water resource management. The theme covers flow dynamics (including aspects of flooding and runoff management), interactions with sediments and soils, role in ecological systems, aqueous chemistry and pollutant fate and transport, and impacts on UK and global issues of sustainable and resilient water supply, consumption and wastewater management.

Recent projects include

  • Natural Flood Management within the Sheffield Lakelands Landscape Partnership
  • Fundamental research into colloidal particle aggregation relevant to environmental pollution transport and fate
  • Glacier surface hydrology and the dynamics of microbes and contaminants on ice surfaces and in meltwater runoff

Ecology and Conservation

Our research focuses on ecological management and assessment. We have a particular interest in rewilding, (re)creation of regional forests, and the identification and mapping of 'ghost' or 'shadow' woods in the modern landscape. We work with European and UK partners such as Natural England to advise on forestry and nature conservation policies, as well as wider work on peatlands and climate change with National Park Authorities, wildlife trusts and others.

Recent projects include

  • Mapping of shadow woods in moorlands of the Eastern Peak District
  • Advice to the national Ancient Woodland Inventory
  • GIS analysis of biodiversity data from the English National Parks for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

People and the Natural Environment

Our work focuses on enhancing landscapes and urban green space for people’s health and well-being, and other public benefits; outdoor recreation and access management; resolving conflicts between recreation and conservation; environmental education and encouraging pro-environmental behaviour; and community engagement.

Recent projects include

  • Research for the Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership to examine the potential for increased recreation and access gateways in their area.
  • Research for the Campaign to Protect National Parks, CPRE and the National Trust, examining the application of the Major Development Test in our national parks.
  • Advising the Countryside Management Association over proposed government changes to urban parks funding (published in People Place and Policy).
  • A study commissioned by the Trussell Trust to evaluate the impact of their extended food bank services.

Further details on research interests and recent publications for core members of the group can be found in the Department of the Natural and Built Environment staff profiles

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