Geography and Environment

Emma Tompkins

Primary position:


The University of Southampton
Dr Emma Tompkins's photo

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).

Co-Chair of Sustainability Science at Southampton (SSS): 
View our latest videos on Sustainability Science:

Follow us on Twitter: @SustainScience


The University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints)


Porter, James, Dessai, Suraje and Tompkins, Emma L. (2014) What do we know about UK household adaptation to climate change? A systematic review. Climatic Change (doi:10.1007/s10584-014-1252-7).
Brown, Sally, Nicholls, Robert J., Hanson, Susan, Brundrit, Geoff, Dearing, John A., Dickson, Mark E., Gallop, Shari L., Gao, Shu, Haigh, Ivan D., Hinkel, Jochen, Jiménez, José A., Klein, Richard J.T., Kron, Wolfgang, Lázár, Attila N., Neves, Claudio Freitas, Newton, Alice, Pattiaratachi, Charitha, Payo, Andres, Pye, Kenneth, Sánchez-Arcilla, Agustín, Siddall, Mark, Shareef, Ali, Tompkins, Emma L., Vafeidis, Athanasios T., van Maanen, Barend, Ward, Philip J. and Woodroffe, Colin D. (2014) Shifting perspectives on coastal impacts and adaptation. Nature Climate Change, 4, (9), 752-755. (doi:10.1038/nclimate2344).
Biggs, Eloise M., Tompkins, Emma L., Allen, Joshua, Moon, Chris and Allen, R. (2013) Agricultural adaptation to climate change: observations from the Mid-Hills of Nepal. Climate and Development (In Press).
Tompkins, Emma L. and Eakin, Hallie (2012) Managing private and public adaptation to climate change. Global Environmental Change, 22, (1), 3-11. (doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.09.010).
Adger, W. Neil, Brown, Katrina, Nelson, Donald R., Berkes, Fikret, Eakin, Hallie, Folke, Carl, Galvin, Kathleen, Gunderson, Lance, Goulden, Marisa, O'Brien, Karen, Ruitenbeek, Jack and Tompkins, Emma L. (2011) Resilience implications of policy responses to climate change. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Climate Change, 2, (5), 757-766. (doi:10.1002/wcc.133).
Tompkins, Emma L., Boyd, Emily, Nicholson-Cole, Sophie, Adger, W. Neil, Weatherhead, Keith and Arnell, Nigel (2010) Observed adaptation to climate change: UK evidence of transition to a well-adapting society? [in special issue: 20th Anniversary Special Issue] Global Environmental Change, 20, (4), 627-635. (doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.05.001).
Tompkins, Emma L., Hurston, Lisa-Ann and Poortinga, Wouter (2009) Foreignness as a constraint on learning: the impact of migrants on disaster resilience in small islands. Environmental Hazards, 8, (4), 263-277. (doi:10.3763/ehaz.2009.0018).
Doria, Miguel de França, Boyd, Emily, Tompkins, Emma L. and Adger, W. Neil (2009) Using expert elicitation to define successful adaptation to climate change. Environmental Science & Policy, 12, (7), 810-819. (doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2009.04.001).
Tompkins, Emma L., Lemos, Maria Carmen and Boyd, Emily (2008) A less disastrous disaster: managing response to climate-driven hazards in the Cayman Islands and NE Brazil. Global Environmental Change, 18, (4), 736-745. (doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.07.010).
Boyd, Emily, Osbahr, Henny, Ericksen, Polly J., Tompkins, Emma L., Lemos, Maria Carmen and Miller, Fiona (2008) Resilience and ‘climatizing’ development: examples and policy implications. Development, 51, (3), 390-396. (doi:10.1057/dev.2008.32).
Lemos, Maria Carmen and Tompkins, Emma L. (2008) Creating less disastrous disasters. IDS Bulletin, 39, (4), 60-66. (doi:10.1111/j.1759-5436.2008.tb00477.x).
Tompkins, Emma L., Brown, Katrina and Few, Roger (2008) Scenario-based stakeholder engagement: incorporating stakeholders preferences into coastal planning for climate change. Journal of Environmental Management , 88, (4), 1580-1592. (doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.07.025).
Few, Roger, Brown, Katrina and Tompkins, Emma L. (2007) Public participation and climate change adaptation: avoiding the illusion of inclusion. Climate Policy, 7, (1), 46-59.
Lemos, MC, Boyd, Emily, Tompkins, Emma, Osbahr, Henny and Liverman, Diana (2007) Developing adaptation and adapting development. Ecology and Society, 12, (2)
Few, Roger, Brown, Katrina and Tompkins, Emma L. (2007) Climate change and coastal management decisions: insights from Christchurch Bay, UK. Coastal Management, 35, (2-3), 255-270. (doi:10.1080/08920750601042328).
Arnell, Nigel W., Tompkins, E. and Adger, W.N. (2005) Eliciting information from experts on the likelihood of rapid climate change. Risk Analysis, 25, (6), 1419-1431. (doi:10.1111/j.1539-6924.2005.00689.x).
Tompkins, Emma L. and Adger, W. Neil (2005) Defining response capacity to enhance climate change policy. Environmental Science & Policy, 8, (6), 562-571. (doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2005.06.012).
Pielke, Roger A., Agrawala, Shardul, Bouwer, Laurens M., Burton, Ian, Changnon, Stanley, Glantz, Michael H., Hooke, William H., Klein, Richard J. T., Kunkel, Kenneth, Mileti, Dennis, Sarewitz, Daniel, Tompkins, Emma L., Stehr, Nico and von Storch, Hans (2005) Clarifying the attribution of recent disaster losses: a response to Epstein and McCarthy. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 86, (10), 1481-1483. (doi:10.1175/BAMS-86-10-1481).
Adger, W. Neil, Arnell, Nigel W. and Tompkins, Emma L. (2005) Successful adaptation to climate change across scales. [in special issue: Adaptation to Climate Change: Perspectives Across Scales] Global Environmental Change, 15, (2), 77-86. (doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2004.12.005).
Adger, W. Neil, Arnell, Nigel W. and Tompkins, Emma L. (2005) Adapting to climate change: perspectives across scales. [in special issue: Adaptation to Climate Change: Perspectives Across Scales] Global Environmental Change Part A, 15, (2), 75-76. (doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2005.03.001).
Tompkins, Emma L. (2005) Planning for climate change in small islands: insights from national hurricane preparedness in the Cayman Islands. [in special issue: Adaptation to Climate Change: Perspectives Across Scales] Global Environmental Change, 15, (2), 139-149. (doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2004.11.002).
Adger, W. Neil, Brown, Katrina and Tompkins, Emma (2005) The political economy of cross-scale networks in resource co-management. Ecology and Society, 10, (2), 1-9.
Tompkins, Emma L. and Adger, W. Neil (2004) Responding to climate change: implications for development. ID21 Insights, 53, 3-4.
Tompkins, Emma L. and Adger, W. Neil (2004) Does adaptive management of natural resources enhance resilience to climate change? Ecology & Society, 9, (2), 1-14.
Tompkins, Emma, Adger, W. Neil and Brown, Katrina (2002) Institutional networks for inclusive coastal management in Trinidad and Tobago. Environment and Planning A, 34, (6), 1095-1111. (doi:10.1068/a34213).
Brown, Katrina, Adger, W.Neil, Tompkins, Emma, Bacon, Peter, Shim, David and Young, Kathy (2001) Trade-off analysis for marine protected area management. Ecological Economics, 37, (3), 417-434. (doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(00)00293-7).


Boyd, Emily and Tompkins, Emma (2010) Climate change. A beginner's guide, London, GB, Oneworld, 180pp.
Brown, Katrina, Tompkins, Emma and Adger, W. Neil (2002) Making waves. Integrating coastal conservation and development, London, GB, Earthscan Publications, 164pp.

Book Section

Duncan, John M.A., Dash, J. and Tompkins, Emma L. (2014) Mangrove forests enhance rice cropland resilience to tropical cyclones: evidence from the Bhitarkanika Conservation Area. In, Murti, R. and Buyck, C. (eds.) Safe Havens: Protected Areas for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. Gland, CH, International Union for Conservation of Nature, 49-55.
Tompkins, Emma and Hurlston-McKenzie, Lisa-Ann (2011) Public-private partnerships in the provision of environmental governance: a case of disaster management. In, Boyd, Emily and Folke, Carl (eds.) Adapting Institutions: Governance, Complexity and Social-Ecological Resilience. Cambridge, GB, Cambridge University Press, 171-189.
Barange, Manuel, Allen, Icarus, Allison, Eddie, Badjeck, Marie-Caroline, Blanchard, Julia, Drakeford, Benjamin, Dulvy, Nicholas K, Harle, James, Holmes, Robert, Holt, Jason, Jennings, Simon, Lowe, Jason, Merino, Gorka, Mullon, Christia, Piling, Graham, Rodwell, Lynda, Tompkins, Emma and Werner, Francisco (2011) Predicting the impacts and socio-economic consequences of climate change on global marine ecosystems and fisheries. In, Ommer , Rosemary, Perry , Ian, Cochrane , Kevern L. and Cury, Philippe (eds.) World Fisheries: a Socio-Ecological Analysis, Fish and Aquatic Resources. Oxford, GB, Wiley-Blackwell. (Fish and Aquatic Resources, 14). (doi:10.1002/9781444392241.ch3).
Eakin, Hallie, Tompkins, Emma L., Nelson, Donald R. and Anderies, John M. (2009) Hidden costs and disparate uncertainties: trade-offs involved in approaches to climate policy. In, Adger, W. Neil, Lorenzoni, Irene and O'Brien, Karen L. (eds.) Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values, Governance. Cambridge, GB, Cambridge University Press, 212-226. (doi:10.1017/CBO9780511596667.014).
Tompkins, Emma L., Brown, K., Adger, W.N., Bacon, P., Young, K. and Shim , D. (2002) Trade off analysis for participatory coral reef management: lessons learned from Buccoo Reef Marine Park, Tobago. In, Kasim Moosa, M.K., Soemodihardjo, S., Nontji, A., Soegiarto, A., Romimohtarto, K., Sukarno, and Suharsono, (eds.) Proceedings of the Ninth International Coral Reef Symposium. 9th International Coral Reef Symposium , Indonesian Institute of Sciences, 765-770.
Adger, W.N., Brown, Katrina, Tompkins, Emma, Bacon, Peter, Shim, David and Kathy, Young (2000) Evaluating trade-offs between uses of marine protected areas in the Caribbean. In, Lee, N and Kirkpatrick, C (eds.) Integrated Appraisal and Sustainable Development in a Developing World. London, GB, Edward Elgar, 159-179.

Conference or Workshop Item

Tompkins, Emma L., Brown, K. and Few , R. (2005) Scenario-based stakeholder engagement: a framework for incorporating climate change into coastal decision making. In, LOICZ Coastal Session at the Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community, Bonn, DE, 09 - 13 Oct 2005.
Tompkins, Emma L. (2004) Adapting to climate change, lessons from Tyndall Centre Adaptation Research. In, Development and Adaptation Days, 10th Annual Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC, Buenos Aires, AR, 11 - 12 Dec 2004.
Boyd, E., Tompkins, Emma L., Adger, W.N., Arnell, N.W., Nicholson-Cole, S. and Weatherhead , K. (2004) Adaptation in practice, lessons from the UK. In, Development and Adaptation Days, 10th Annual Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC, Buenos Aires, AR, 11 12 2004.
Tompkins, Emma L., Adger , W.N. and Arnell, N.W. (2004) Planning for rapid climate change. In, Challenging Boundaries: Economics, Ecology and Governance. 8th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics, Montréal, CA, 11 - 14 Jul 2004.
Arnell , N.W., Adger , W.N. and Tompkins, Emma L. (2004) Exploring vulnerability to rapid climate change in Europe. In, ESRC Workshop: Environment and Human Behaviour: What has been Learned?, London, GB, 20 - 21 May 2004.
Adger , W.N. and Tompkins, Emma L. (2004) Adaptation research challenges. In, European Adaptation Research Workshop, CICERO, Oslo, NO, 24 - 25 May 2004.
Tompkins, Emma L., Dessai, S. and Adger, W.N. (2003) Institutional dimensions of international climate change policy evolution. In, Anthropogenic Climate Change - Risks, Perceptions and Policy Responses: World Risk Congress, Brussels, BE, 22 - 25 Jun 2003.
Tompkins, Emma L. and Adger, W.N. (2003) Re-thinking response capacity to enhance climate change policy development. In, Mitigation and Adaptation in Climate Change, Essen, DE,
Tompkins, Emma L. and Adger, W.N. (2002) Building resilience to climate change through adaptive management of natural resources. In, UNDP Expert Group Meeting: Integrating Disaster Reduction and Adaptation to Climate Change, Havana, CU, 17 - 19 Jun 2002.
Tompkins, Emma L., Adger, W.N. and Brown , K. (2000) Hierarchy of institutional pre-conditions for participatory natural resource management. In, Development Studies Association. Environmental Resources and Sustainable Development Study Group Conference, Environmental Resources: Conflict, Co-operation and Governance, Bradford, City and Borough of, GB, 17 - 18 May 2000.
Adger, W.N., Brown, K., Tompkins, Emma L., Bacon, P., Shim, D. and Young , K. (1999) Engaging with stakeholders and trading off their preferences: marine protected areas in the Caribbean. In, Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community, Kanagawa-ken, JP, 23 - 26 Jun 1999.
Adger, W.N., Brown, K., Tompkins, Emma L., Bacon, P., Shim, D. and Young, K. (1998) Evaluating options for sustainable coastal resource management: a multi-stakeholder approach. In, Beyond Growth: Policies and Institutions for Sustainability. 5th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Ecological Economics, Chile, Republic of, CL, 15 - 19 Nov 1998.
Adger, W.N., Brown, K., Tompkins, Emma L., Bacon, P., Shim , D. and Young, K. (1998) Evaluating trade-offs between uses of marine protected areas in the Caribbean. In, Impact Assessment in the Development Process: Advances in Integrating Environmental Assessment with Economic and Social Appraisal, Manchester, GB, 23 - 24 Oct 1998.


Porter, J.J., Dessai, S. and Tompkins, Emma L. (2014) What do we know about UK household adaptation to climate change? A systematic review. Leeds, GB, SRI, University of Leeds, 94pp. (Sustainability Research Institute Paper, 70).
Waite, Richard, Burke, Lauretta, Gray, Erin, van Beukering, Pieter, Brander, Luke, Mackenzie, Emily, Pendleton, Linwood, Schuhmann, Peter and Tompkins, Emma L. (2014) Coastal capital: ecosystem valuation for decision making in the Caribbean. , World Resources Institute, 78pp.
Tompkins, Emma L., Mensah, Adelina, King, Lesley, Long, Tran Kim, Lawson, Elaine T., Hutton, Craig W., Hoang, Viet Anh, Gordon, Chris, Fish, Marianne, Dyer, Jen and Bood, Nadia (2013) An investigation of the evidence of benefits from climate compatible development. London, GB, Sustainability Research Institute, 27pp. (Sustainability Research Institute Paper, 44).
Tompkins, Emma L., Fraser, E., Stringer, L., Beharry, N., Quinn, C., Termansen, M., Challinor, A.J., Paavola, J., Gouldson, A. and Forster, P. (2008) Response from the University of Leeds, Sustainability Research Institute and Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution study on adapting the UK to climate change. Leeds, GB, University of Leeds
van Beukering, Peter, Brander, Luke, Tompkins, Emma and Mackenzie, Emily (2007) Valuing the Environment in Small Islands: An Environmental Economics Toolkit. Peterborough, GB, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 125pp.
Arnell, Nigel, Tompkins, Emma L., Adger , Neil and Delaney, Kate (2005) Vulnerability to abrupt climate change in Europe. , Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (Tyndall Centre Technical Report, 34).
Tompkins , Emma L., Boyd , E., Nicholson-Cole , S.A., Arnell , N.W. and Adger , W.N. , Weatherhead, K. (ed.) (2005) Linking adaptation research and practice. Norwich, GB, University of East Anglia
Tompkins, Emma L., Nicholson-Cole, Sophie, Hurlston, Lisa-Ann, Boyd, Emily, Hodge, G., Clarke, Judy, Trotz, N. and Varlack, Lynda (2005) Surviving climate change in small islands: a guidebook. Norwich, GB, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, 128pp.
Tompkins, Emma (2003) Using Stakeholders Preferences in Multi-attribute Decision Making: Elicitation and Aggregation Issue. Norwich, GB, CSERGE, 13pp. (Environmental Change and Management, ECM 01-13).
Tompkins, Emma L. (2003) Development Pressures and Management Considerations in Small Caribbean Islands' Coastal Zones. Norwich, GB, CSERGE (Environmental Change and Management, ECM 03-08).
Brown, K., Adger, W.N. and Tompkins , Emma (2001) Building consensus among stakeholders for management of natural resources at the land water interface. Norwich, GB, Department for International Development, 207pp. (Final report to Natural Resources Systems Programme Department for International Development, Overseas Development Group, University of East Anglia).
Brown, K., Adger, W.N., Tompkins, Emma L., Bacon, P., Shim, D. and Young, K, K. (1999) Evaluating trade-offs between users of marine protected areas in the Caribbean. Norwich, GB, Department for International Development, 157pp. (Final report to Natural Resources Systems Programme Department for International Development. Overseas Development Group, University of East Anglia).


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.

Primary research group:  Global Environmental Change and Earth Observation

Research project

Pathways of resilience to future storms

Teaching Responsibilities


GEOG1010 – Tutor
GEOG1011 – Dangerous world
GEOG2032 – Global climate change
GEOG3018 – 3rd year dissertation supervisor (please see my research interests)
GEOG3042 – Environment and development (convenor)


GEOG6040 – Environment and development (convenor)

PhD supervision:

Emma is currently supervising:

Salma Hegga (Leeds/Southampton, started 2009)

Social capital and flood preparedness in Kilosa District, Tanzania

Tawia Abbam (Southampton, started 2011)
The impact of bandals on river erosion and poverty in Bangladesh

Radhika Dave (Southampton, started 2012)
Can ecosystem-based approaches deliver climate change adaptation in socio-ecological systems

Alex Chapman (Southampton, started in 2012)
Climate change adaptation, mitigation and development in the Mekong Delta

Tudor Vilcan (Southampton, started 2012)
Discourses of resilience in climate change adaptation policy

Miriam Joshua (Southampton, started 2012 part-time)
Social capital and forest access for food security in Malawi

Emma's previous students include:

Arnoldo Matus Kramer (Oxford, 2011)
Adaptation to climate change in the tourism sector of the rapidly urbanizing Yucatan Caribbean coast

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

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