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The University of Southampton
Sustainability Science

Adapting to Climate Change

This research group focusses on all aspects of adaptation to climate change at multiple scales, from individual species and system components, to aggregations in ecological or social communities or nation states. The group comprises a wide array of skills originating from a variety of disciplines including: biology, engineering, archaeology, business administration, oceanography, economics, geography and sociology.

Image of farmer
Agriculture productivity is very sensitive to changes in rainfall and the length of seasons.

The aim of the Adapting to Climate Change theme is threefold:

Climate change adaptation involves actions by humans and non-humans anticipating or responding to climatic change - whether anthropogenically driven or not. These actions can enhance or constrain adaptation options today, as well as shape capacity to respond by future generations. This research theme focusses on all aspects of adaptation to climate change.


See the latest video 'Drivery and Challenges for Climate Compatible Development' by Dr Emma Tompkins.


Current climate change adaptation research projects


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


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


3.  Research project: Pathways of resilience to future storms


Current external engagement activities relating to climate change adaptation

Reducing the risks of Future Disasters

Researchers across the university participated in the UK Government Office of Science Foresight review on ‘Reducing Risks of Future Disasters'. Dr Emma Tompkins, Co-chair of Sustainability Science at Southampton USRG, was part of the Lead Expert Group that shaped the contents of the report, commissioned background research, and produced the final report.  Professor Peter M. Atkinson, Professor Michael J. Clark, Dr Hugh G. Lewis, Andrew Murdock and Julia Branson at the University of Southampton were all involved in producing a background research paper on the state of the art in  risk mapping.


Contribution to IPCC Assessment Report Five

Professor Robert Nicholls:

Dr Emma Tompkins: is a Lead Author for Chapter 29 on Small Islands (


Activities and resources for faculty, post-docs, PGRs and UGs within the climate change adaptation theme

General networking opportunity

All faculty, post-docs and PhD students are invited to the monthly meeting of the 'Human dimensions of Resilience, Adaptation and Vulnerability' DISCUSSION GROUP. We meet in the Geography & Environment coffee room 44/1089 - please sign up to the SSS mailing list to receive emailed invitations which include the confirmed date, time, and location.

All University of Southampton PhD students, post docs and faculty are welcome, but please email to let me know if you plan to join us so I can get a larger room if needed.

Background to the group

A small group of UoS researchers (post-doc and PhD) and staff have decided to meet once a month, to discuss the following ideas:

- ecological resilience

- social resilience

- measurement /monitoring of resilience  / safe operating spaces

- adaptive capacity

- vulnerability (incl measurement)

- hazards/ disasters / catastrophes related to resilience

- the role of institutions / social capital/ networks/behaviours/ assets and obligations in informing resilience

- intentionality/human agency and the capacity to cause /influence

- neoliberalism and the politics of resilience

- risk and uncertainty


PhD Development activities

There is a monthly PhD group colloquium in Geography & Environment wherein PhD students present and discuss their research as it progresses. All PhD students working on subjects related to the ESRC DTC theme of ‘Energy Environment and Resilience'  are welcome to join us. Please email to sign up to the group mailing list.


UG modules in Sustainability Science (CIP)

If you are interested in studying sustainability science at Southampton there are a wide range of modules you can access across the campus, including two innovative Curriculum Innovation Programme modules Living with Environmental Change and Global Challenges. For further details, please visit the SSS Teaching pages.

Related Research Groups & Bodies

Image of desert
Living with Environmental Change- SSS Curriculum Innovation Programme Module
Picture of Earth
Global Challenges- SSS Curriculum Innovation Programme module

Despite commitments so far for cutting emissions, the world still needs to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Adaptation will require more resilient infrastructure, broader disaster relief and preparedness measures, and new agricultural technologies and practices to counter the increased climate risks.

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