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Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Research programme aims to explain the development of Namib sand dunes

Map showing the location of the Namib
 sand sea in southern Africa.
Ian Livingstone, the Professor of Physical Geography, leads a UK consortium of geographers who are working on the geomorphological development of the planet’s sandy deserts, concentrating in particular on the Namib Desert in southern Africa. This team has developed a digital geomorphological atlas for the Namib, and most recently has been involved in field investigations that will help us to understand the desert’s geomorphological history. Professor Livingstone started his research career in the Namib over 30 years ago, and since then has worked in deserts in Australia, USA, Tunisia and Oman, but he returns to the Namib whenever he can.


Automatic weather station 
The latest field excursion was undertaken in August/September 2013. It involved visiting an automatic weather station in the northern part of the sand desert that was established in 2012 to download the data that the weather station had collected and to carry out maintenance. The team then moved to the southern part of the sand sea to establish a second weather station which will allow them to compare the wind climate in the two areas. 


Sand dune in the Namib Desert
Alongside this, they undertook work on the form and the sediments of the dunes. The techniques used included surveying the dunes using a total station, gaining images of the internal structure of the sediments of the dunes using ground-penetrating radar, and collecting samples to help us ascertain the age of the dunes using luminescence dating techniques. The team has already published some of its research in academic papers and more are on their way. They have also presented their findings at international conferences.

Students in geography at Northampton can learn more about the development of deserts in a final year module called ‘Dryland Environments’. In recent years the Department has also provided its students with the opportunity to undertake field study of a desert with a two-week trip to the Mojave Desert in California.



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