Climate change, sea-level rise, coastal geomorphology, cliffs, erosion, flooding, impacts, adaptation, shoreline management, small islands, deltas, ports, insurance.
Sally’s research focuses on the following:
· Impacts of sea-level rise at a global scale
Understanding global problems helps the connect people and places, and helps solve common problems. Sally’s research has focused on what the impacts of sea-level rise could be (such as land or wetland loss, people affected), where they could occur and when, and what can be done to reduce impacts. She has also analysed the benefits of climate change mitigation at global scale. She has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Centre (NERC) and the European Commission to publish research identifying this. Sally has also undertaken research for the World Bank (e.g. Economic Impacts of Climate Change), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (in the forms of maps to generate information and impact to overseas governments).
· Impacts of sea-level rise at regional and local scales
Having understood the global picture, Dr Brown’s research then focused on which global regions (continental) are most at risk. This has included a study around African coasts published as a paper, and a number of unpublished case studies. She has also been funded by the European Commission to determine the impacts of sea-level rise and the costs of adaptation around European coasts. Sally has also participated in a paper on coastal hazards in China, from her visiting PhD student. Sally contributed to report led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on a risk assessment of climate change in cities. This analysed potential impacts of sea-level rise, subsidence, adaptation and considered how long coastal cities could survive for with rising sea-levels.
· Small islands: Sea-level rise, impacts and sustainable development
Small islands only contain a small percentage of the world’s population, with small island developing States contributing about 1% of the world’s population. Islanders are highly reliant on the sea for their livelihoods, and so understanding environmental change is very important. Dr Brown has been working with the Ministry of Environment and Energy in the Maldives to analyse the effects of extreme water level events, impacts of sea-level rise and potential adaptation options. She is presently writing up her results for publication and is keen to extend this work further.
· Delta environments: Sea-level rise, subsidence and their impacts
Low-lying deltas are also environments highly sensitive to natural and anthropogenic change. Sally first learnt about deltas through studying land subsidence, producing a highly cited open access research article on subsidence in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta. She went on to co-author a publication on wetland loss and is now studying the impacts of an equivalent 1.5°C rise in sea-level on the Ganges-Brahmaputra, Mahanadi and Volta deltas.
· Adaptation to sea-level rise, flooding, erosion and multiple drivers of change
Adaptation to sea-level rise is essential as climate change mitigation alone will not inhibit impacts. Sally has researched how adaptation can reduce impacts on a global scale, and have considered adaptation pathways (a series of actions to reduce long-term risks by taking into account multiple uncertainties) in different environments susceptible to sea-level rise. Dr Brown has also analysed and supervised student projects on adaptation to sea-level rise in the Maldives.
· Policy implications and management of coastal science and engineering
Sally has a keen interest in understand how coastal science and engineering makes an impact with coastal communities and governments at local, national and international levels. This stemmed from her PhD where she studied coastal management. Her present interest is in the social and economic implications of coastal management policies. She presently supervises two PhD students, jointly with Southampton Law School who have a policy angle to their PhDs (see Q&A tab). Reinforcing this interest, in 2016, Dr Brown took part in the Royal Society Scientist / Parliamentary Pairing Scheme, where she was paired with Mr Rory Steward and Sir Desmond Swayne. She found this an amazing opportunity and privilege to witness how Parliament works.
· Erosion, geomorphology and coastal structures
Closer to home, Sally is interested in UK coastal issues. Her particular interest is in cliff erosion and crenulate bay formation, which was the topic of her PhD thesis, where she focused on Christchurch Bay, Holderness and Norfolk. Although her main research is no longer focused on this theme, she still enjoys supervising BSc Environmental Science and MSc Engineering in the Coastal Environment dissertations on the topic.
Where can I find out more?
You can find Sally Brown's research records and more information here:
Energy and Climate Change
Affiliate research group(s)
Coastal Engineering and Management
Sally supervises students undertaking their dissertations, research projects and design projects.
She is presently supervising a 4th year MEng Group Design Project (GDP) with Prof Robert Nicholls and Dr Joel Smethurst. The group are designing defences and wider management plans against potential tsunamis in the Maldives, a project suggested by the Maldivian government. Although tsunamis are rare, they can have devastating impacts. This builds on two previously successful GDPs on coastal flooding and sea-level rise in the Maldives. All projects have provided the students with excellent opportunities to liaise and discuss their work with the Maldivian government. Student work has been presented to the Ministry og Environment and Energy and some have reached Ministerial level.
Dr Brown also supervises students undertaking the one-year MSc Engineering in the Coastal Environment course, one-year MSc Sustainability and third year BSc Enviromental Science. She has supervised students researching cliff erosion, flooding, sand dunes, wetlands, heritage, coastal management and public perceptions of coastal change. To achieve really successful and useful results her students have liaised with local authorities and other organisations to understand why and how their results can be useful to end users and the public.
Dr Sally Brown
Engineering and the Environment University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ
Telephone:(023) 8059 4796