The BSG occasionally convenes working groups to progress topics of interest and importance to the Society. These groups run for a fixed period and on a specific topic. See below for information on past and current working groups. If you are interested in setting up a working group, please get in touch with

Active fixed-term working groups

Previous fixed-term working groups

Status: Expired

Co-ordinators: Prof. Stephen Tooth, Prof. Heather Viles

Documents: Progress Report and Final Report

Background: Recent years have seen increased collaboration between the sciences and arts, with conferences, galleries and residencies devoted to exploiting the mutual benefits that can arise from mingling the two spheres (e.g.:!regardingdynamicprocesses/c1p5n). Critical commentaries have focused on the tensions between art’s roles in illustrating, communicating, and interrogating sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, climate change and geology. But where is geomorphology?

Geomorphology has a very visual subject matter that has long offered aesthetic inspiration for artists (e.g. painters, sculptors, batique makers, poets and even musicians) but these artistic activities are rarely truly collaborative, with the return benefits to geomorphology commonly being unclear. Despite rapid development of science-art collaborations, therefore, the discipline is effectively invisible, limiting its promotion as an active, relevant science among a wider public.

Aims: The Visualising Geomorphology Working Group’s (WG) remit will be to promote the science of geomorphology through engagement with the arts (broadly defined), and therefore raise the profile of the BSG.

Specific, interrelated questions include historical, contemporary and forward-looking aspects of geomorphology-art relations:

  1. where has art already drawn aesthetic inspiration from geomorphology and what benefits have accrued to geomorphology?;
  2. can we enhance the artistic decisions and techniques already embedded in geomorphological publishing practices, including sketching, photography, ‘cartoons’ (see Fig. 1), videos or graphic design?;
  3. where can traditional or new (perhaps technology-driven) artistic techniques be most profitably employed on geomorphological subject matter to engage non-specialists? Examples might include:
    • animations, videos and podcasts to illustrate landscape change scenarios;
    • 3D printing to enhance understanding of landforms;
    • traditional sculptures or other art forms to communicate erosional and depositional processes in a putative Anthropocene (Fig. 2);
  4. can we identify and target funding opportunities to pursue specific art-geomorphology collaborations (e.g. AHRC, Leverhulme Trust)?

Members: The initial list of invited WG members is as follows: Stephen Tooth, Heather Viles, Varyl Thorndycraft, Hywel Griffiths, Julian Ruddock, Simon Dixon, Brian Whalley, Jessica Lloyd-Jones, Ant Dickson, Harriet Hawkins, Simon Mudd, Henry Lamb, Anna Falcini.

First meeting: The first meeting of the WG will be take place at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Friday 19th June, 2015, 11 am-3 pm.

Second meeting: The second meeting of the WG will be take place at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Monday 6th June, 2016, 11 am-3 pm.

Stephen Tooth maintains a blog that reports on aspects of this working group, for example the BSG-sponsored ‘Strata’ event that took place in January 2016.

Status: Expired

Co-ordinators: Dr Lucy Clarke, Dr Emma Shuttleworth, Dr Daniel Schillereff

Background: Despite geomorphology’s importance in a range of environmental management issues, the term has recently been removed from the revised secondary school curriculum and its absence from media coverage of geomorphological hazards (e.g. floods and landslides) and geoscientific documentaries is notable. Recent publications have highlighted the challenges currently faced in the communication of geomorphology, the decline in the use of the term in academic literature and a lack of public awareness of the term. The academic geomorphological community are mindful of these issues, and measures have been taken to address them (e.g. 10 reasons why geomorphology is important), but there has been little evaluation of how geomorphology is perceived from outside of the academy. An understanding of how a wider audience ‘see’ geomorphology and its relevance is vital, in order to determine: (a) the type of material and services the BSG should be promoting, and (b) how to most effectively disseminate relevant information.

Aim: The aim of this group is to address these needs by collecting the viewpoints of different groups, which have varying levels of interaction with geomorphology. Through discussion with target audiences we want to find out what they understand as geomorphology, how they value it, and what they think that we as a Society can contribute to what they do. This will allow us to determine how best geomorphology should be communicated and promoted, in order to raise the profile of the term, discipline, and Society.

This will be achieved through:

  • An online survey of the BSG membership to canvass the views of a large body of academics, and to co-opt members interested in being involved with the group;
  • A series of focus groups with key audiences such as school teachers, policy makers, the general public, and mass media to gauge opinion on how geomorphology can best be communicated to different audiences;
  • Organising hands-on events to facilitate the wider BSG membership to communicate their expertise on areas of geomorphological research determined to be of most need to specific interest groups based on their feedback;
  • A dedicated ‘Communicating Geomorphology’ session at the BSG Annual General Meeting 2017 to disseminate findings and stimulate further debate and action within the BSG membership.

Outputs will include:

  • Annual reports on the progress made by the group
  • Regular blog posts, aimed at stimulating outreach activity within the BSG membership
  • Publication of an ESEX commentary of the main findings
  • The findings from the FTWG will be collated, analysed and published in an Open Access document as a series of evidence-based recommendations for the optimal methods of communicating geomorphology to each identified audience, form which future BSG communication strategies and wider geomorphological outreach activities can be developed.

For further information please contact the working group convenors: Lucy Clarke (, Emma Shuttleworth (, or Daniel Schillereff (

Status: Expired

Co-ordinators: Dr. Larissa Naylor (University of Glasgow); Dr. Tom Spencer (University of Cambridge)

Background: Extreme storms and floods are increasing in frequency and intensity across much of the globe. These events have caused considerable geomorphic change and have raised awareness about the role geomorphology can play in managing the landscape and human impacts of these extreme effects. In many instances, the global geomorphology community has been interviewed as experts by the media. This has helped raise the profile of our discipline. Policy makers and practitioners are actively discussing geomorphology-based solutions to reduce the risks of future extreme events causing the similar levels of damage and disruption (even if geomorphology is not explicitly mentioned). These events, the prolonged human impacts they have caused, and the geomorphic responses to them create the ideal opportunity to demonstrate the significant contributions geomorphology makes to anticipating, contextualising (in space and time), measuring and managing the landscape to be more resilient to future extremes. This fixed-term working group aims to bring together world-leading experts in this field, through a conference and Special Issue of Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, to showcase the fundamental role geomorphology plays in an age of extremes. In doing so, it will demonstrate that Geomorphology has much to contribute to understand, measure, predict and manage the landscape impacts, and human consequences, of extreme events. The working group has thus been set up to help raise the discipline’s profile within and beyond geomorphology, in academic and applied settings. It is important that the ‘geomorphological voice’ is heard in an increasingly stormy world.

Aim: The aim of this working group is to coordinate two high profile activities that together aim to heighten awareness of the fundamental contribution that geomorphology can make to science and society in an age of extremes. The two activities are:

  1. A one day International Conference on Stormy Geomorphology: geomorphic contributions in an age of extremes to be held at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 11 May 2015.
  2. An invited Special Issue of Earth Surface Processes and Landforms on the same topic, bringing together the current global state-of-the-art understanding on this topic.

For further information please contact the working group Co-Chairs, Tom Spencer ( for activity 1 and Larissa Naylor ( for activity 2.

Status: Expired

Co-ordinators: Dr Andrew Nicholas, Exeter and Prof. Tom Coulthard, Hull

Downloads: Annual Report 2008, Annual Report 2007

Background: The working group commenced in September 2006 and running for three years with the first meeting held in March 2007 at the RGS. The scope and focus of the group included addressing:

  • Reduced-complexity flow routing schemes and their relative strengths and weaknesses
  • What constitutes sufficient physics in reduced complexity models?
  • Model validation strategies
  • Equifinality in landscape evolution models
  • Approaches to modelling human-landscape interactions

Further information:

Status: Expired

Co-ordinators: Professor Ian Livingstone, Northampton

Downloads: Final Report, Working Report

Background: The BSG Sand, Seas and Dune Fields fixed term working group was established for three years from 2008 until 2010 to co-ordinate the UK input into the digital atlas of sand seas and dune fields being developed by INQUA ( and to explore the ways in which data held in the atlas could be used to explore research questions in aeolian geomorphology. The group met ten times and successfully bid to the RGS/IBG for further funding to extend our activities.

Of particular note, this funding supported the international one-day meeting, titled Global Sand Seas: past, present and future for geomorphologists and other scientists interested in sand seas in hot and cold deserts. The meeting was held at the Royal Geographical Society in London in October 2010.

The Research group comprised Professor Ian Livingstone (University of Northampton), Dr Andreas Baas (King’s College London), Dr Mark Bateman (University of Sheffield), Dr Charlie Bristow (Birkbeck College, University of London), Dr Rob Bryant (University of Sheffield), Dr Joanna Bullard (Loughborough University), Professor David Thomas (Oxford University), Dr Kevin White (University of Reading), and Dr Giles Wiggs (Oxford University).

The Working Group has made its digital atlas of the Namib sand sea available online and written about how the database was created in the following paper: Livingstone, I., Bristow, C., Bryant, R. G., Bullard, J., White, K., Wiggs, G. F. S., Baas, A. C. W., Bateman, M. D., and Thomas, D. S. G., (2010) The Namib Sand Sea Digital Database of aeolian dunes and key forcing variables. Aeolian Research available here.

Further information:

Status: Expired

Co-ordinators: Prof. Martin Evans (University of Manchester); Prof. Tim Quine (University of Exeter)

Downloads: Year 1 Report, Year 2 Report

Background: Soils comprise the largest part of the terrestrial carbon store, at 1600 GtC they are approximately twice the atmospheric carbon pool and three times the vegetation carbon pool. Carbon storage and sequestration in soils is closely linked to soil redox conditions so that in erosional areas soil disturbance has the potential to lead to carbon release whilst depositional zones are potential areas of carbon sequestration.

Consequently the mobility and atmospheric availability of soil and sediment carbon is strongly controlled by the local suite of geomorphological processes. Despite the direct link between soil and sediment mobility and carbon flux the role of particulates in carbon balance at a range of scales remains poorly understood. In part this is because geomorphologists have been slow to engage with the carbon science community. There are of course many notable exceptions to this generalisation.

The work of Trurtrum et al. (e.g. Page et al. 2004) provides an excellent example of the way that standard geomorphological techniques and understanding can be used to generate a more sophisticated understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle than has previously been possible.

Aim: The aim of this working group is to develop links between geomorphologists currently working on carbon cycling and to promote the development of further work on the links between geomorphology and biogeochemical cycling. The working group will have four main themes, the first three of which are areas where geomorphologists are currently making contributions and the fourth of which is an area where we believe geomorphologists can make a significant contribution.

  1. Theme 1 Geomorphological controls on peatland carbon cycling
  2. Theme 2 Agricultural soil erosion and soil carbon sequestration
  3. Theme 3 Continental scale fluvial carbon
  4. Theme 4 Sediment budgets as carbon budgets

For further information please contact the working group Convenors, Martin Evans ( or Tim Quine (

Status: Expired

Co-ordinators: Prof. Tony Brown, University of Southampton

Downloads: Annual Report (2013), Background Statement, Final Statement and ESPL Paper

Background: The BSG Anthropocene Fixed Term Working Group was established for one year initially (2012-2013) but has been extended for a second year. The purpose of the Working Group is to consider the implications of the possible adoption of the Anthropocene as a new geological time interval which would include the late Holocene. Of all the disciplines of Earth Sciences, this proposal could affect geomorphology the most, given that many studies of Earth-surface processes and landforms take place within late Holocene timescales. Therefore, it was felt by the promoters of the Working Group that geomorphology as a discipline should be an integral element in this debate and during its first year the Working Group has promoted this view.

Following from the terms of reference the Working Group has:

  1. Publicised the Anthropocene debate amongst geomorphologists through dedicated sessions organised, or part co-organised, by members of the Working Group. This has included sessions at the 2012 QRA Annual Meeting and the 2012 AGU Annual Fall Meeting (see press release) and will include sessions at the 2013 EGU Annual General Meeting (seeGM4.2/SSS6.12: Landscape in the Anthropocene: state of the art and future directions and the 2013 BSG Annual Meeting);
  2. Collated members’ views and comments by hosting a questionnaire on the BSG website (though more are still welcome;
  3. Written an ESEX Commentary for Earth Surface Processes and Landformshttp;
  4. Considered the geomorphological case for proposed lower boundaries, type sites and possible alternative demarcations of the Anthropocene;
  5. Considered the implications for geomorphology and the BSG of the adoption of the Anthropocene as a geological time interval of some type.

The Working Group is also planning a State of the Art Paper for Earth Surface Processes and Landforms and a stand-alone meeting to discuss and consider the role of geomorphology in the Anthropocene debate (planned for early 2014).

Can we urge more BSG members to answer the very short questionnaire. In addition, please do not hesitate to email any of the Working Group Committee if you wish to share your views

For further details about this working group, please see the “Background” statement.

The working group committee is co-ordinated by A G Brown and the members currently are; R. Aalto, J. Bullard, R. Chiverell, J. Rose , V. Thorndycraft, J. Wainright, D. Thomas, S. Tooth, P. Downs

Calling all Geomorphologists. Take part in the Anthropocene Debate, give your views in the BSG Anthropocene Survey.

Click here to take the short survey

Further information: