Earth Surface Processes

Earth Surface Processes

We study fundamental geoscience questions concerning Earth surface processes, including the impact of environmental change on surface processes across a range of timescales. Our focus covers the broad themes of cryosphere and hydrology.

Research is carried out in collaboration with government research scientists on policy-relevant issues and also with industry. Interdisciplinary, ongoing research is fostered through close collaboration especially with:

  • Marine Scotland
  • The James Hutton Institute
  • Other geomorphologists, ecologists, soil scientists, physicists and statisticians nationally and internationally

The Earth Surface Processes Group plays an active role in three of the University’s Research Themes:

Cryosphere and Climate Change

Cryosphere research focuses on:

  • ice-climate interactions
  • ice sheet mass balance and dynamics
  • glacial landform genesis
  • palaeoglaciology

Integration of research on contemporary and palaeo ice dynamics is used to place ongoing changes in the cryosphere within a long-term context of global environmental change. An additional focus has been on sea level variability during the Holocene and effects of tsunamis on coastal sedimentary records.

More information can be found on our Cryosphere and Climate Change web pages.



Hydrological research is organised through the Northern Rivers Institute and focuses on: 

  1. the application of advanced tracing and novel mathematical tracer-aided modelling in the characterisation of hydrological systems
  2. the ecohydrology of headwater catchments

Research highlights include the integration of empirical tracing techniques with advanced mathematical analysis to constrain the geographic sources and temporal dynamics of streamflow generation processes, complemented by the development of novel, tracer-aided rainfall-runoff modelling.

Another focus is on the ecohydrology of headwater streams and environmental controls, including sediment transport processes on short and longer-term ecological dynamics.