Research on the theme of Earth-surface dynamics is carried out across a broad range of spatial and temporal scales using a variety of methods.
Topics investigated fall under three major foci:
- Biogeochemical processes
Processes that control movement of water, sediment and nutrient resources; processes controlling dust sources; aeolian transport of dust and associated nutrients; impacts of these processes on dryland degradation and desertification; biogeochemical fluxes in glacial and permafrost environments; phosphorus and pollutant transfers from agricultural land.
- Sediment archives
Records of changing sedimentation through time both in terms of depositional styles and rates in response to climate, landscape and human-induced changes. Projects include investigations of expansion and contraction of deserts and coastal dune systems in southern Africa; effects of bioturbation on the sediment archive; effects of sedimentation on past human activities as preserved in sediments associated with archaeological sites; complex response of aeolian and fluvial systems. Origin and properties of glacial deposits; reconstruction of past ice-sheets dynamics.
- Landscape evolution
Development of aeolian, fluvial and glacial landscapes; landform analysis; human impacts on the landscape over historical and longer timescales.
There is an emphasis on integrated methodologies to achieve a cross-scale understanding of these research foci. The group has significant expertise in field monitoring, laboratory analysis, chronometric dating, field and laboratory experimentation, numerical modelling, Earth Observation and GIS. Work is supported by the Sheffield Centre for International Drylands Research (SCIDR) facilities and the SRIF-2 Sediment-Solute Systems Laboratory, Spectroradiometry Laboratory and the Rainfall-Simulation Laboratory. There is a strong overlap with the Department's Climate and Cryosphere Research Cluster and those working on development perspective in the Policy, Governance & Participation Research Cluster. The Department also has excellent facilities for field monitoring, EO and GIS. University resources for numerical modelling – including GRID and CFD – are outstanding.
Funding for work in Earth-surface dynamics mainly comes from NERC, EU and DEFRA. There is a strong interdisciplinary approach to research resulting in collaborations both within the University (with Departments such as Animal and Plant Sciences, Archaeology and Civil Engineering and through the Sheffield Centre for International Drylands Research and the Catchment Science Centre) and with other leading international researchers.
Our research activities span the globe; whilst we work locally, such as on the River Don in Sheffield (see the Don Catchment (link right) for an overview of this current research), group members are also currently working in environments in South Africa, Namibia, Norway and Antarctica (amongst others).
Details of individual's research activity can found by following the links below:
Professor Andy Hodson (Group leader)
Earth Surface Dynamics photogallery