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Sarah Lindley

Senior Lecturer

Photo of Dr Sarah Lindley


BA (Hull), M.Sc. (Edinburgh), PhD (MMU)

Research interests 

I am a quantitative geographer specialising in the use of geospatial analysis to understand the outcomes of human-environment interactions. My main research interests are associated with urban air pollution and climate adaptation. Much of my research activity is motivated by the need to develop sustainable responses to current and future environmental challenges. I therefore often work in multi-disciplinary teams and in collaboration with stakeholders.

Geographical Information Science has been a key part of my research activity for nearly two decades. However, I have been researching spatial patterns in emissions and pollutant concentrations for nearly as long (Lindley et al 1996; 1999; 2000; Lindley and Walsh, 2005). My recent projects in this area include the Joint Environment & Human Health Programme Affinity Zones project (Harris et al 2009) and the EU European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects project (ESCAPE). Through these activities I see urban air pollution and its management as a continuing component of my ongoing research agenda.

Since 2003 I have also begun researching climate change adaptation, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to urban heat. Themes within this work include risk and vulnerability analysis (discussed below) and research into aspects of ecosystem services (Pauleit et al 2003; Nguyen Van De et al 2008; Dao Kim Nguyen et al 2008; Mcmorrow et al 2008; Qureshi et al 2009). This latter area of work has since been developed through a network of African case study cities as part of the EU FP7 CLimate Change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa (CLUVA) project (

Having developed a spatial risk assessment and management framework through the EPSRC Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change in the Urban Environment (ASCCUE) project (Lindley et al 2006; 2007), I have subsequently sought to populate that framework with an improved evidence base for decision-making. ASCCUE helped to construct key datasets (e.g. Gill et al 2008) upon which an understanding of the geographical patterns of hazards and hazard drivers could be developed, e.g. through the Sustainable Cities: Options for Responding to Climate cHange Impacts & Outcomes (SCORCHIO) project (Smith et al 2009; 2011). To complement this activity on hazards, I have recently been working to develop an improved understanding of the climate-related social vulnerability patterns underlying the potential for differential impacts. To this end, during 2010-11 I worked on a UK wide index of socio-spatial vulnerability funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. This is now being updated and incorporated into the forthcoming ClimateJust web portal.

All of these projects have involved developing an inter-disciplinary understanding of what underpins expressions of risk and the methods which can be used to quantify associated geographical patterns. Much of my work has been based in the urban laboratory of Greater Manchester, but the methods, tools and results which flow from it are often more widely transferable both in the UK and elsewhere.

Supervision topics

I welcome applications from prospective PhD students in any area of my research interests, particularly those interested area of my current research activity and wishing to pursue a topic with a strong GISc dimension. Please feel free to email me if you wish to discuss the suitability of your research proposal prior to submitting a formal application.

Current supervision topics

Research topics of current and recent PhD students under my supervision include:

  • An Integrated National Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Development Investment Framework for Barbados- A Small Island Developing State (SIDS). Fully funded Commonwealth scholarship;
  • Adaptation Potential of Green Structures to Urban Heat Island in Urban Morphological Types of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania EU funded (based at Arhdi University);
  • Evaluation of the role of urban greenspace for climate adaptation and mitigation. Fully funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (joint UK Research Council initiative);
  • Quantification of the Microclimate Modification Properties of Green Roofs in the Urban Environment NERC CASE studentship sponsored by Manchester City Council;
  • Air pollution exposure and respiratory health in childhood. This research involves estimating the exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particle matter within a cohort of children associated with the Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study. University funded. Part-time and Part-time researcher on the ESCAPE project;
  • Climate change, renewable energy and population impact on future energy demand for Burkina Faso's built environment. Funded by the Sustainable Consumption Institute;
  • Multi-scale and Geospatial Assessment of Social Vulnerability and Coping Capacity Commonwealth fully-funded studentship;
  • Modelling Climate Change: Interactions with Tourism and Environmental Capacity. EPSRC funded.

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