Landscape Form, Use and Change: a dynamic Earth

Theme 1 – Landscape Form, Use and Change: a dynamic Earth

The Landscape Form, Use and Change Theme is led by Dr Rob Bingham University of Edinburgh

SAGES Theme 1 is exploring four overarching questions:

(i) How did our contemporary physical landscapes form?

(ii) How have our physical landscapes responded to land-use practices, and to recent climate change?

(iii) How have humans adapted to landscape and land-use change?

(iv) What challenges will future landform and land-use changes pose to human resilience?

Our aim in this theme is to understand and predict the response of the landscape to tectonic, climatic and environmental change. Capitalising on the outstanding analytical facilities built up at theScottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) over 30 years, we will integrate a range of dating techniques to quantify rates of landscape change on scales ranging from millions of years to a matter of hours. Such integration is rare and will change our understanding of the Earth’s evolution and the sensitivity of surface processes to natural and human change. Specifically, we will focus on surface processes such as rivers, water, soil erosion, glaciers, coasts and landslides.

The results will provide boundary conditions for dynamic landscape models, which will be developed to assess such questions as the behaviour of ice sheets, the effects of changing land use on rainfall run off, or the links between tectonic processes and climate in creating active mountain belts. Study of current processes will allow prediction of the potential impact of future climate trends and human activities on water supply, coastal flooding and soil erosion.