The University of Southampton
Geography and Environment
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Dr Emma Tompkins 


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Dr Emma Tompkins is Reader within Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton.

Emma is a Reader in Environment and Development. She has worked on climate change adaptation since 2001 specifically barriers and limits to institutional adaptation, public-private partnerships for adaptation, and drivers of individual action and national policy on adaptation.

Emma sits on the Editorial Board of Ecology and Society and on the Advisory Group for the UK Climate Impacts Programme.

She is a lead author for the IPCC Assessment Report Five, a contributing author to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Extremes and Disasters, was an expert reviewer for the IPCC Assessment Report Four, and provides on-going expert reviews for research councils in the UK and seven other European countries. Emma is currently part of the lead expert group for the Government Office of Science Foresight project ‘Improving Future Disaster Anticipation and Resilience’

She has published numerous papers, articles and policy briefs on environmental management, adaptation to climate change, and social and ecological resilience as well as handbooks on surviving climate change in small islands and participatory coastal zone management.

She has a PhD Environmental Science (UEA), MSc Environmental and Resource Economics (UCL) and BA Economics (Leicester).

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Research interests

Her research interests include:
  • processes of and barriers to human/social adaptation to climate variability and change (individual, household, community and state level)
  • institutional drivers of hazard/climate resilience
  • drivers and constraints to risk reducing behaviour (in relation to natural hazard mitigation and preparedness)
  • risk mitigation strategies for communities and households (in relation to natural hazards and climate change)
  • potential synergies and trade-offs between climate adaptation and mitigation

Her focal areas are:

  • natural hazards, especially tropical cyclones, floods and droughts
  • climate extremes, variability and change
  • small island states
  • coastal zones
  • Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa
Current research projects

Pathways of resilience to future storms - PREFUS (2013-2017)

This Leverhulme-funded project investigates the drivers resilience of crop lands to tropical cyclones. We focus on a case study of Kendrapara, Odisha in East India. PREFUS focusses specifically on identifying where (and why) rice croplands withstand or recover rapidly from tropical cyclone impacts such that there is little or no harm to livelihoods, food security and economic development in the region.

Deltaic Environments, Vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration as Adaptation (DECCMA)

DECCMA is a 4 year, IDRC-funded, CAD$13.5million programme of applied research on the adaptation options, limits and potential in deltaic environments to current weather variability and extremes, as well as climate change. The project runs from February 2014 to September 2018. Research focusses on four deltas – the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (Bangladesh and India); the Nile (Egypt); the Volta (Ghana); and the Mahanadi (India). Large tracts of land at low elevation make deltas vulnerable to sea-level rise, but they also experience climate impacts such as droughts and fluvial flooding. Deltas have some of the highest population densities in the world with 500 million, often poor, residents. The adaptive strategies available to delta residents (e.g., disaster risk reduction by building shelters, or land use management) may exacerbate gender inequalities, and may not be adequate to cope with pervasive, systemic, or surprise changes associated with climate change. Hence, large movements of deltaic people are often projected under climate change. Emma Tompkins is responsible for the Work Package on Adaptation. Completed research projects since 2011

Recently completed projects

Linking Adaptation, Mitigation and Development in East Africa in Coastal Forests and Agricultural Systems (2011-2013)

This project explores the synergies and trade-offs between adaptation, mitigation and development, looking at different development pathways and policy mixes in coastal areas.

Achieving Triple Wins: Identifying Climate Smart Investment Strategies for the Coastal Zone (2011-2012)

This demand-led project aims to support policy makers in making hard choices about resource allocation to achieve climate compatible development. The project involves an assessment of the co-benefits of adaptation and mitigation activities in the coastal zone. It focuses on case studies in four areas off Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Research group(s)

Global Environmental Change and Earth Observation

Research project(s)

Pathways of resilience to future storms

Director of the Geography & Environment Graduate School

Co-director of ESRC DTC EER pathway

Co-director of Sustainability Science at Southampton



Book Section(s)




GEOG1010 – Tutor

GEOG2032 – Global climate change

GEOG3018 – 3rd year dissertation supervisor (please see my research interests)

GEOG3057 – Adapting to climate and weather hazards (convenor)


PhD supervision:

Emma is currently supervising:


Radhika Dave  (started 2012)

Can ecosystem-based approaches deliver climate change adaptation in socio-ecological systems


Alex Chapman  (started 2012)

Climate change adaptation, mitigation and development in the Mekong Delta


Tudor Vilcan   (started 2012)

Discourses of resilience in flood risk management policy


Miriam Joshua  (started 2012 part-time)

The role of formal institutions in shaping water access for food security in Malawi


Fiona Simmance   (started 2013)

The socio-ecological value of fisheries of Lake Chilwa in Malawi and the impacts of climate change and human actions on food security.


Giorgia Prati  (started 2014)

Gender and adaptation: the implications of migration for women’s adaptive capacity in the Mahanadi delta, India


Margherita Fanciotti (started 2014)


Anais Vermonden (started 2014)


Emma's previous students include:

Salma Hegga (Southampton, 2013)

Social capital and flood preparedness in Kilosa District, Tanzania


Khandaker Munim (Leeds, 2013)

Vulnerability of food systems to salinity intrusion in south-west Bangladesh


Paola Hernandez Montes de Oca (Leeds, 2013)

Vulnerability and resilience of SMEs to extreme weather events in south-east México


Arnoldo Matus Kramer (Oxford, 2011)

Adaptation to climate change in the tourism sector of the rapidly urbanizing Yucatan Caribbean coast


She is interested in supervising in the following areas:

Human dimensions of climate change adaptation (including drivers and barriers)

Socio-ecological resilience for natural disaster management

Natural hazard risk management

Science-policy links in integrated coastal zone management

Small island sustainability


Dr Emma Tompkins
Building 44 University of Southampton University Road Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 44/2083

Telephone: (023) 8059 6711

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