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Geography

About us

Who we are

We are a group of physical geographers with specialisms which include geomorphology, hydrology, biogeochemistry, freshwater and atmospheric environmental science, ecosystem physical processes and geographical information science. Within the field of geographical information science, the group has particular strengths in remote sensing and geospatial analysis methods and how they can be used for understanding form, pattern and process.

Photograph from a Geography fieldwork trip to Iceland - mountains and stream
A recent geography fieldwork trip to Iceland.

As geographers, we work with multiple data sources and data that span a range of spatial scales (including laboratory, field plots, UAV, aircraft and satellite data). Our group’s expertise also covers field experiments, laboratory analyses and a range of monitoring and modelling techniques. We are supported by specialist technicians in our laboratory and we have a dedicated Spatial Data Officer.   

What we do

Our group brings together expertise from a wide range of sub-disciplines of Geography in order to tackle some of the most important and challenging research questions associated with contemporary environmental risk and response. A hallmark of our research is our close collaboration with practitioners and we often work in interdisciplinary teams in order to meet a set of shared aims. 

Assessing the environmental benefits of green roofs - monitoring equipment at The University of Manchester
Assessing the environmental benefits of green roofs.

The Environmental Processes Research Group carries out research which is: 

  • improving understanding of the fundamental spatial characteristics and dynamics of a range of contemporary environmental processes
  • extending knowledge on the potential impacts of contemporary processes on future environmental change
  • developing and applying techniques for evaluating the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce the negative impacts of past, current and future environmental processes  

Some of the specific ways we are achieving this include through our work on:  

  • assessing moorland restoration and its impacts 
  • characterising vegetation fire regimes and the spatial and temporal analysis of wildfire risk
  • understanding terrestrial carbon cycling
  • evaluating urban ecosystem services for climate change adaptation and risk mitigation
  • analysing urban pollution loadings and controls
  • applying novel remote sensing techniques to understand processes associated with ecosystems, fire and ice.

Our  research is supported by various different funding bodies, including  the UK Research Councils (eg NERC, EPSRC), government departments and agencies (such as Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency) and the EU.

Many of our collaborations are long-standing - such as with Moors for the Future - and we are committed to a model of research which fosters the two-way process of knowledge exchange between researcher and practitioner communities.

Where we work

Much of our existing body of research is centred on upland and urban environments where we are helping to extend the knowledge base around supporting and regulating ecosystem services at a range of spatial scales and in a number of geographical settings.

Near surface remote sensing of vegetation physiology for monitoring and scaling carbon fluxes - image of crops with monitoring equipment
Monitoring and scaling carbon fluxes.

Geography at Manchester has a particularly long history of upland research culminating in our current foci on the estimation of carbon flux, understanding upland geochemical and pollutant cycling, and characterising vegetation fire regimes.

Our urban research work includes the analysis of spatial patterns of atmospheric and riverine pollutant concentrations and the assessment of regulating urban ecosystem services. 

Our research into novel remote sensing applications mean that we also contribute to understanding wider ecosystem physical processes as well as the contemporary behaviour of glaciers, ice sheets, sea ice and the oceans. Through this latter work, we contribute to some of the themes researched by the Quaternary Environments and Geoarchaeology group.