School of GeoSciences Research

Environmental risk and adaptation

Our researchers seek to understand the threats posed by anthropogenic and natural hazards (air and water pollution, climate change, flooding and storms, volcanic eruptions) and the best ways people and livelihoods can be protected.

Current projects 

Translational Services: Multi-model approaches in Climate Services

Research network on the health and equity impacts of climate change mitigation measures on indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure (HEICCAM)

Professor Ruth Doherty is leading a research network called HEICCAM with co-investigators, Professor Jamie Pearce and Dr Tom Clemens.  HEICCAM brings together academics and early career researchers from nine universities representing disciplines as diverse as air quality measurement and modelling, building physics, behavioural science, health, education and policy, with stakeholders from the public sector, business/industry and the third sector the general public. 

This consortium will build evidence on the consequences of exposure to air pollution of actions aimed at tackling climate change and poor air quality, focusing on the home environment, to inform and influence policy and practice to protect human health.  It will help grow long term capability in interdisciplinary research in this domain through the interactions with early career researchers, development of research plans, and linkage to other networks and existing research in the clean-air and other programmes. 

More information on this project award can be found on *ERE

Ixchel: Building understanding of the physical, cultural and socio-economic drivers of risk for strengthening resilience in the Guatemalan cordillera

Professors' Eliza Calder and Julie Cupples are leading the Ixchel project which will enable the continuation of ongoing disaster-related research in Guatemala. This project forms part of the UK Research and Innovation Collective Programme and is a collaboration between a number of colleagues at the University and at other institutions in the UK, US and Guatemala. 

This study builds on existing work with Indigenous and low-income ladino (mixed race) survivors of disaster events such as Hurricane Stan in 2005 and the eruption of the Fuego volcano in 2018. It is focused on the landslides, debris flows and volcanic pyroclastic flows that affect Guatemala every year and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable sectors of the population. These mass flows take place however in a socio-political context of persistent racism, inequality and poverty that exacerbate vulnerability in complex ways. 

The project is rooted in a decolonial philosophy that considers popular and Indigenous ways of knowing alongside scientific ones and seeks to disrupt the Eurocentric premises of conventional disaster scholarship based on binary separations between nature and culture and between spirituality and science. The capstone output of this project will be a docunovela – a televised series about disaster risk in a context of persistent coloniality produced in collaboration with local mediamakers. 

More information on this project award can be found on *ERE

Large collaborative projects completed in the period 2017-2019 

Abrupt Changes in Ecosystem Services and Wellbeing in Mozambican Woodlands (ACES

Researchers on this project examined how woodland loss is changing ecosystem services and the wellbeing of the rural poor in Mozambique. The findings will be used to integrate information into land-use policy and practice to alleviate poverty in the country.

View the ACES website

Key staff:

  • Professor Eliza Calder
  • Dr Kate Crowley
  • Professor Ruth Doherty
  • Professor Kate Heal
  • Dr Meriwether Wilson


 * Edinburgh Research Explorer (ERE) is the University's research information system and is managed by Library and University Collections.