2 August 2018

Sheffield academics speak at geomorphology meeting in China

Professor Mark Bateman and Dr Robert Bryant - joined by colleagues from University College London and Birkbeck - have just returned from taking part in an aeolian geomorphology research meeting, hosted by the Geography and Tourism department at Shaanxi Normal University.

a man working in the luminescence lab

Professor Mark Bateman and Dr Robert Bryant - joined by colleagues from University College London and Birkbeck - have just returned from taking part in an aeolian geomorphology research meeting, hosted by the Geography and Tourism department at Shaanxi Normal University. The study of aeolian geomorphology pertains to the ability of wind to shape the Earth’s surface - from sand dunes on coastlines to dust on dried-up lake beds.

Professor Zhibao Dong of Shaanxi Normal University was delighted that the University of Sheffield, as one of the leading institutions on the study of aeolian geomorphology, was able to take part in this research meeting.

Mark Bateman presented his research on coastal dunes systems in South Africa, looking at how dunes had changed over the past 120,000 years. Through research methods such as luminescence dating, it is possible to discover exactly how coastlines and sea levels have changed over the years, and how this has affected how animals, plants and our ancestors have lived in coastal dune areas.

Robert Bryant presented his research on dust emissions from playa (or dry) lakes in Namibia and Mexico. Through the use of satellite imagery, we can study these dry lakes and better understand exactly when and where dust storms are going to happen. This has huge implications for not only the health of local communities but also for marine fertilisation.

After the presentations, discussion turned to the prospect of future collaborative links between international departments, as well as looking at the possibility of further work on aeolian systems on the Tibetan Plateau.

“The aeolian geomorphology of the Tibetan Plateau is remarkable in its dynamism and range,” Mark Bateman said. “[It] provides many opportunities for research which can benefit both science and the people who are working and living in these areas.”

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