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Issue 4 | Summer 2012 | Geography and Environment

Altitude Welcome to the Geography and Environment newsletter. In this issue, learn more about our diverse research, from disaster risk mapping to ethics in animal testing, student involvement in enterprise and about a prestigious space medal for one our academics.

Students engaging in social enterprise | Page 3 Cycling survey contributes to new Cycling Strategy | Page 3 International recognition for space research | Page 4

Assessing the risk Two Geography and Environment academics have been invited to write reviews for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills Foresight programme on improving future disaster anticipation and resilience. Head of Geography and Environment Professor Pete Atkinson will focus on State-of-the-art in Risk Mapping and will draw on his own experience and that of his colleagues in the GeoData Institute and across the University on modelling risk in relation to a range of global hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, floods and disease and their likely impact on the UK. Reader in Environment and Development Dr Emma Tompkins will focus on the effect of institutions on disaster outcomes. She will work with a team of civil engineers from the University of Cambridge and a group of interdisciplinary researchers from the Middlesex Flood Hazard Research Centre to look at the role of different institutions in disaster risk reduction for tropical cyclones, flooding and earthquakes.

An ethical relationship The relationship between scientific researchers and their human and animal experimental subjects, was the focus of recent research presented internationally by Dr Emma Roe, Lecturer in Human Geography. Emma and her colleague Dr Beth Greenhough, Queen Mary University of London, gave a lecture about the subject to lab animal technicians and scientists in Norway. She said:


Altitude | Summer 2012

“Our work is particularly interested in the practical care relationship between the technician and an animal or group of animals. We are focused on understanding this better to ensure both high levels of animal welfare and to foster a supportive environment for those people working with laboratory animals.�

Helping alleviate poverty Geography and Environment researchers will join colleagues from across the University to work on an international study to improve the lives of people living in poverty around the world. Academics from Geography and Environment, including the GeoData Institute, Social Sciences and Civil Engineering and the Environment, will assess the changing ecosystem services deltas provide. The four-year £3.4m study, funded by Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA), will mainly focus on the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Megna Delta in Bangladesh and India – one of the world’s most significant deltas and home to 500 million people. It is characterised by densely populated coastal lowlands with significant poverty and is supported to a large extent by natural ecosystems such as the Sunderbans largest mangrove forest in the world. The study is one of two being carried out by teams at the University. Both were won following a global competition for ESPA funding.

On two wheels Southampton cyclists are contributing to the city’s new Cycle Strategy, thanks to Geography’s GeoData Institute carrying out one of the largest cycling surveys in the UK. More than 3,700 survey packs were distributed to cyclists at 61 sites across the city asking them for their views on cycle use and any problem hotspots. The research showed that: −− Two thirds of people are using their bikes more frequently −− The majority ride to keep fit −− A third cycle due to high fuel costs The research results are now being fed into Southampton City Council’s new Cycle Strategy that will look at the future of cycle routes and facilities in the city.

Mike Austin

Engaging in social enterprise Geography student Mike Austin has played a significant role in the University of Southampton’s branch of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), which for a second year in a row will be representing the UK internationally. SIFE is an international student organisation underpinned by major corporations such as Waitrose, WalMart, HSBC and KPMG, that encourages students to engage in social enterprise and help resolve social and environmental problems around the globe. Mike completed his third year dissertation on the motivations and attitudes of students who engage in SIFE activities. He was also part of a team that set up a social enterprise in Madagascar helping families purchase solar lamps. He said: “SIFE has been the highlight of my university life. I have met some of my best friends, had some of the best memories, and developed many skills including presentation, leadership, problem solving and time management. “It has also opened doors to my future employment through direct contact with graduate recruiters of sponsor companies.”

Altitude | Summer 2012


International recognition for space research A Geography lecturer has been given international recognition for his work using Earth observation data to study the carbon uptake of plants.

Jadu Dash

Jadu Dash, Lecturer in Remote Sensing, was awarded the 2012 Zeldovich Medal by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the Russian Academy of Science. The medal is one of eight medals given out every two years to young scientists who have demonstrated excellent achievement in their field of space research. Jadu said:

“I was honoured to receive this award. It makes my research internationally visible and shows that it has been recognised by experts in the field.”

Sharing their expertise Physical Geographers at the University will be sharing their expertise with school geography teachers at a special summer school.

Geography student presents at EGU Third year Geography student Larisa Vircavs was one of more than 11,000 international geoscientists that attended the prestigious European Geosciences Union’s Annual Congress in Austria. She presented her research quantifying the relationship between surface roughness and aerodynamic roughness using high resolution terrestrial laser scanning data that can help predict the rate of glacial ablation or melting rates.

The course Science for Society – New developments in physical geography will address questions in modern society such as how rivers working at different scales impact on the surrounding ecosystems.

Larisa said: “Presenting my work at the EGU provided an amazing opportunity to discuss my work with people from all over the world that have similar interests. It has confirmed my decision to continue on and apply for a PhD position”.

The event is free of charge and is being organised by the University of Southampton in collaboration with Ordnance Survey, and in association with the Met Office and The Goldsmith’s Company. Speaker Dr Pete Langdon, Reader in Physical Geography, said: “It will provide great insight for geography teachers into current cutting edge research within physical geography, as well as considering the bigger picture of global environment change.”

Larisa Vircavs (right) and Ben Jacobs (left, an ERASMUS exchange student from Bonn University) measuring surface roughness on the Svínafellsjökull, Iceland.

For more information or to discuss our courses contact: +44(0)23 8059 3760

Larissa was also nominated for the European Geosciences Union (EGU) Geomorphology Division’s Outstanding Student Poster award for her presentation.

Geography and Environment newsletter  

News from Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton, from disaster risk mapping to ethics in animal testing, student involv...

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