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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science
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Professor Emma Tompkins

Professor of Geography, Environment and Development

Professor Emma Tompkins

Emma Tompkins is a Professor of Geography, Environment and Development. She has worked on human dimensions of climate change adaptation since 2001 specifically barriers and limits to institutional adaptation, public-private partnerships for adaptation, and drivers of individual action and inaction, as well as national policy on adaptation.

Research interests

  • processes of human/social adaptation to climate variability and change (individual, household, community and state level)
  • the role of institutions in hazard/climate resilience
  • risk mitigating behaviours and attitudes (in relation to natural hazards and disaster preparedness)
  • synergies and trade-offs between climate adaptation, mitigation and development

Her focal areas are:

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

Current research projects

CoastalRes: pathways to coastal resilience in England and Wales over the next 100 years

CoastalRes, led by Professor Robert Nicholls, is a one year NERC funded project, running from February 2019 – January 2020. The aim is to develop and demonstrate prototype methods to assess realistic pathways for strategic coastal erosion and flood resilience in the UK the light of climate change, including sea-level rise.

Recently completed projects

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 ran from February 2014 to September 2018. Research focussed 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. Key outputs all free to download:
Tompkins et al (2018)
Suckall et al (2019)
Nicholls et al (2019)

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

This Leverhulme-funded project investigated the drivers of resilience of crop lands to tropical cyclones. We focussed on a case study of Kendrapara, Odisha in East India. PREFUS focussed 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. Key outputs from this project (free to download):
Duncan et al (2017)
Duncan et al (2017)

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

Environmental Change and Sustainability (ECaS)

Research project(s)

Coastal resilience in the face of sea-level rise

Pathways of resilience to future storms

Linking Adaptation, Mitigation and Development in East Africa in Coastal Forests and Agricultural Systems

Achieving Triple Wins: Identifying Climate Smart Investment Strategies for the Coastal Zone

Deltas, Vulnerability & Climate Change: Migration & Adaptation

Sort via: Type or Year

Key Publication


GEOG3057 – Adapting to climate and weather hazards (convenor)

PhD supervision:

Emma is currently supervising:

Margherita Fanciotti (Southampton, started 2014)
Tropical cyclone resilience in the Mahanadi Delta, India

Giorgia Prati (Southampton, started 2014)
Gender and adaptation: the implications of migration for women’s adaptive capacity in the Mahanadi delta, India

Heather Brown (Southampton, started 2016)
Governance of cyclone risk in coastal zones: a case study of Samoa

Sien van der Plank (Southampton, started 2016)
Management of coastal flooding in England through spatial planning, engineering and insurance

Martin Watts (Southampton, started 2018)
The role of multi-storey home gardens in adaptation to climate change in mountainous regions

Yanna Fidai (Southampton, started 2019)
‘The assessment of the spatial and temporal distribution and impact of Sargassum seaweed across the tropical Atlantic basin’

Emma's previous students include:

Miriam Joshua (Southampton, 2012-2019)
Formal institutions in equitable access to drinking water for food security in Malawi

Fiona Simmance (Southampton, 2013-2017)
The role of small-scale Inland Capture Fisheries for food security in Malawi

Radhika Dave (Southampton, 2012- 2016)
The relationship between forest management and agricultural resilience in smallholder farming communities in Madagascar

Alex Chapman (Southampton, 2012-2015)
Climate change adaptation, mitigation and development in the Mekong Delta

Tudor Vilcan (Southampton, 2012-2016)
Discourses of resilience in climate change adaptation policy

Paola Hernandez Montes de Oca (Leeds, 2009-2013)
Vulnerability and resilience of SMEs to extreme weather events in south-east México

Khandaker Munim (Leeds, 2008-2013)
Vulnerability of food systems to salinity intrusion in south-west Bangladesh

Salma Hegga (Leeds/Southampton, 2008-2013)
Social capital and flood preparedness in Kilosa District, Tanzania

Arnoldo Matus Kramer (Oxford, 2006- 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
Professor Emma Tompkins
Building 44, University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 44/2083

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