My research expertise lies in the areas of Holocene sea-level change, coastal and climate change, tsunami sedimentation and diatom biostratigraphy. Present research activities include projects on Holocene relative sea level changes and tsunamis in the Maldives archipelago, Sweden, Scotland and Greenland. In Scotland, ongoing projects include the reconstruction of former sea level changes and extreme flooding events on the Isle of Skye and the Orkney Isles. In addition to research interests on a Holocene timescale, I am working on recent environmental changes with a study on the sedimentology and geomorphology of recent storm deposits in the Outer Hebrides as well as a study looking at changing sedimentation patterns and hydrodynamics in estuaries on the west coast of the Outer Hebrides. A study of tsunami sedimentation in the Maldives as a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami is also a key theme.
Current Research Interests
-Holocene relative sea level changes in Scotland (peripheral islands), Greenland, Sweden, Maldives
-Coastal and climate changes in Scotland (Outer Hebrides, N Scotland, Northern Isles)
-Relative sea level change, coastal evolution and coastal archaeology in Scottish islands
-Diatom biostratigraphy and sedimentology of tsunami and storm deposits (modern, historical and pre-historic events)
-Modern estuarine hydrodynamics (Outer Hebrides) using 210Pb and 137Cs to determine sedimentation rates
2009 – Lecturer in Physical Geography, Geography Department, University of Dundee
2007 – 2008 Teaching Fellow, Geography, University of Dundee, Dundee
2002-date Research Consultant in Coastal and Climate Change
2004-date Hon Research Fellow, Aberdeen Institute of Coastal Science, University of Aberdeen
1998-2002 PDRA, Centre for Quaternary Science, Coventry University
1999 PhD awarded 1999. Centre for Quaternary Science, Geography, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Coventry University
1999 PDRA, Palaeogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm University, Sweden
Active research projects:
Assessing the risk to the coastal and rural road network in Scotland due to the effects of storms and extreme rainfall events (January 2016 – June 2016)
The first inter-new-school grant between Geography (Sue Dawson) and Civil Engineering (Mike Brown, Jonathan Knappett) together with TRL (Transport research Laboratory) and Transport Scotland, the project with a 4-mmont PDRA, will use existing research data to develop a robust risk management tool, easily utilized by asset managers to tool that can be used by industry to examine rural road transport assets in Scotland that are likely to be at risk from the effects of extreme rainfall and storms and differing future climate change scenarios.
Will climate change alter the landslide-tsunami risk to the UK? (January 2012 – December 2017)
The Landslide-Tsunami Project is a consortium project and part of the NERC Arctic Research Programme. The aim is to assess whether climate change in the Arctic will increase the risk of landslide-generated tsunami to the UK.
Cascalho, J., Costa, P., Dawson, S., Milne, F. and Rocha, A., 2016. Heavy mineral assemblages of the storegga tsunami deposit. Sedimentary Geology.
Young, E.J., McKenzie, B.M., McNicol, J.W., Robertson, A.H.J., Wendler, R. and Dawson, S., 2015. Spatial trends in the wind abrasion resistance of cultivated machair soil, South Uist, Scottish Outer Hebrides. CATENA, 135, pp.1-10.
Costa, P.J., Andrade, C., Cascalho, J., Dawson, A.G., Freitas, M.C., Paris, R. and Dawson, S., 2015. Onshore tsunami sediment transport mechanisms inferred from heavy mineral assemblages. The Holocene, p.0959683615569322.
Young, E., Muir, D., Dawson, A. and Dawson, S., 2014. Community driven coastal management: an example of the implementation of a coastal defence bund on South Uist, Scottish Outer Hebrides. Ocean & Coastal Management, 94, pp.30-37.
Dawson, S., Powell, V.A., Duck, R.W. and McGlashan, D.J., 2013. Discussion of Rennie, AF and Hansom, JD 2011. Sea level trend reversal: Land uplift outpaced by sea level rise on Scotland’s coast. Geomorphology, 125 (1), 193-202. Geomorphology, 197, pp.185-186.