Dr Peter Smithson

School of Geography and Planning



Peter Smithson started his career at Liverpool as an undergraduate, then a postgraduate. His first lecturing post was at Birkbeck College, University of London.

In 1973 he was appointed as a lecturer in Geography at Sheffield. He has also spent three months at the University of Natal in Durban lecturing on climatology in the Geography Department there.

Research interests
  • Precipitation climatology (applications in UK, Sri Lanka and Brazil)
  • Cave climatology
  • Climate change especially in semi-arid environments

Current research

Current research continues the theme of precipitation investigations in different parts of the world with the present emphasis being on tropical environments.

Peter Smithson is working on trends within Sri Lankan rainfall in particular differentiating between the patterns in the different rainfall regimes of Sri Lanka.

Secondly he is also working with researchers in Brazil on rainfall patterns in Sao Paulo state and particularly their relationship with ENSO controls from the south-east Pacific.

The other main theme involves climate change in the Middle East prior to instrumental records working with Huddersfield University.

Professional activities and memberships

Peter has been Chairman of the Association of British Climatologists, and External Examiner for undergraduate courses at Anglia Polytechnic University and Huddersfield, and for the MSc in Climatology & Meteorology at University of Birmingham.

He has been involved in expedititions to northern Norway (Okstindan) and southern Iceland (Breidamerkurjokull), and has delivered a course on environmental hazards in Sao Paulo, Brazil at USPE organised through Instituto Geologico, Sao Paulo.

Key publications

Peter Smithson has over 50 publications, and over 40 refereed research papers in journals. He is also the senior author of the Third Edition of Fundamentals of the Physical Environment (2002, with Addison, K. and Atkinson, K. Routledge (627 pp)).

Recent key publications include:

  • Smithson, P.A. (1993). An objective classification of homogeneous rainfall regions in Sri Lanka. Theoretical & Applied Climatology, 48, 133-145.
  • Smithson, P.A. (1996). An automated classification of pressure patterns over the British Isles. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 21, 141-156.
  • Smithson, P.A. (1996). The North Derbyshire tornado of 11 July 1995. J. Meteorology, 21, 11-15.
  • Smithson, P.A. (1996). Thermal regions in Sri Lanka. Mausam, 47, 163-172.
  • Smithson, P.A. and El-Kadi, A.K.A. (2000). Probability assessment of pressure patterns over the British Isles. International Journal of Climatology, 20: 1351-1369.