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Climate Memory from Environmental Data Archives: An Exploration of Slow Change, Extreme Events and Human Adaptation

Project topic description

This proposed research is part of a growing body of work, such as Walshe et al’s ‘Helices of Disaster Memory’ 2020 [online] that argue for the need ‘to account for the historical processes fundamental to understanding vulnerability’ which will have ‘implications for disaster risk reduction (including climate change adaptation)’. The socio-cultural accessibility and narrative integration of science archives (such as NERC libraries and archives, National Geosciences Data Centre, the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis and Environmental Information Data Centre, National Geological Repository) are fundamental for understanding the slower and incremental as well as invisible geological and environmental changes. While environmental phenomena have been memorialised, remembered and recorded through different forms of art, culture and media, the integration of such cultural understandings with data from environmental science archives is hardly attempted. Yet, environmental data stored in these archives (such as those cited above) could be effectively connected with other forms of cultural, social and digital memory to afford new climate memories and reveal digital geographies of human-environment interactions.

This proposed PhD project would focus on long-term environmental, scientific and cultural remembrance and would draw multiple-archival and data analysis into a conversation with professionals and communities that seek to better understand and uncover the long and slow change in the relationships between humans and climate. A key resource and starting point will be such archives as the National Geological Repository and the National Geoscience Data Centre hosted at the British Geological Survey and part of NERC’s science archives. These collect and preserve environmental science data and information, making them available for the long-term to a wide range of users and communities but they rarely connect with social, cultural and media archives.

Applicant profile

The applicant must have research interest in climate change and digital memories and can should have a wide range of skills acquired in a relevant master’s degree. Strong archival and bibliographic skills are essential and a passion for history and culture is desirable. It is also desirable that the candidate has aptitude and interest in analysing environmental data using both qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as good communication skills (i.e. is able to liaise with diverse stakeholders in a proactive manner).

Supervisory team
Professor Joanne Garde-Hansen, Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies

Joanne Garde-Hansen is Professor in Culture, Media and Communication at the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies. Her research and teaching focus upon media, memory, archives and heritage. This is manifest in two strands of research. The first, relates to her collaboration with television researchers on television history, heritage and memory and the co-founding of the Centre for Television Histories. The second, is in her collaboration with geographers, water scientists and the Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience on the relationship between culture and water, rivers, flooding and drought. She has published on media and memory, television, archives, and water memories and heritage. She is a Fellow of the HE Academy, was nominated for a National Teaching Fellowship in 2005, and has won awards for outstanding module design and public engagement.


Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, Institute for Global Sustainable Development

João Porto de Albuquerque is Professor and Director of the Institute for Global Sustainable Development and the Academic Director of TRANSFORM. He is a geographer and computer scientist with an interdisciplinary background. His research adopts a transdisciplinary approach to digital geographies, intersecting geographic information science, urban data science, information management and development studies. This approach is underpinned by the investigation of new methods that bridge critical and geo-computational perspectives to include marginalised voices in the generation, circulation and usage of data, with the goal of enabling transformations to urban sustainability and climate resilience. His transdisciplinary research on socio-ecological-technical urban systems not only emphasises cross-border collaboration between the (environmental) sciences, social sciences and humanities; it also goes beyond academic disciplines to engage in co-production of research with non-academic societal/indigenous stakeholders.


External mentorship
Emma Bee, British Geological Survey

Emma Bee is a Geospatial Analyst at the British Geological Survey. Her research interests include geospatial data analysis and integration for hazard management.