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Dr Sarah Lindley - research

Research interests

I am a quantitative geographer specialising in the use of geospatial analysis to understand the outcomes of human-environment interactions. My main research interests are associated with urban air pollution, climate adaptation and urban ecosystem services. Much of my research activity is motivated by the need to develop sustainable responses to current and future environmental challenges. I therefore often work in multi-disciplinary teams and in collaboration with stakeholders. 

Research Details

Geographical Information Science has been part of my research activity for nearly 20 years. However, I have been researching spatial patterns in emissions and pollutant concentrations for nearly as long (Lindley et al 1996; 1999; 2000; Lindley & Walsh, 2005). Recent projects in this area include the Joint Environment & Human Health Programme Affinity Zones project (Harris et al 2009) and the EU European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects project (ESCAPE). Urban air pollution and its management remains a continuing component of my ongoing research agenda.

Since 2003 I have also begun researching climate change adaptation, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to urban heat. Themes include risk and vulnerability analysis and research into urban ecosystem services (Pauleit et al 2003; Nguyen Van De et al 2008; Dao Kim Nguyen et al 2008; Mcmorrow et al 2008; Qureshi et al 2009). This latter area of work was further developed through a network of African case study cities as part of the EU FP7 CLimate Change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa (CLUVA) project and I am now contributing to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Regional Assessment for Africa.

Having developed a spatial risk assessment and management framework through the EPSRC Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change in the Urban Environment (ASCCUE) project (Lindley et al 2006; 2007), I have subsequently sought to populate that framework with an improved evidence base for decision-making. ASCCUE helped to construct key datasets (e.g. Gill et al 2008) upon which an understanding of the geographical patterns of hazards and hazard drivers could be developed, e.g. via the Sustainable Cities: Options for Responding to Climate cHange Impacts & Outcomes (SCORCHIO) project (Smith et al 2009; 2011).

To complement this activity on hazards, I have recently been working to develop an improved understanding of the climate-related social vulnerability patterns underlying the potential for differential impacts. I have since worked on a UK wide index of socio-spatial vulnerability funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which was subsequently developed into the Climate Just information tool.

These projects have involved developing an inter-disciplinary understanding of what underpins expressions of risk and the methods which can be used to quantify associated geographical patterns. Learning is being brought together in a new multi-disciplinary project into urban ecosystem services in Greater Manchester, Green Infrastructure and the Health and wellbeing Influences on an Ageing population (GHIA). Much of my work has been based in the urban laboratory of Greater Manchester, but the methods, tools and results which flow from it are often more widely transferable both in the UK and elsewhere.

Selected climate adaptation and related projects

2010-13 Climate Change & Urban Vulnerability in Africa (CLUVA). 13 partners, 6 in Africa. SL the Manchester PI leading Task 2.2 on urban ecosystems and contributing to overall project management

2010-11 Justice, Vulnerability & Climate Change: An Integrated Framework (Joseph Rowntree Foundation). Project brings together ethical and empirical analysis of distribution of vulnerabilities to climate change. SL (Co-I) led empirical analysis of geodemographic and urban morphological data. W/ PI Prof John ONeill, SoSS

2007-10 Sustainable Cities: Options for Responding to Climate cHange Impacts & Outcomes (SCORCHIO) (EP/E017398/1). PI Levermore, MACE SL (Co-I) led WP3. Collaborators: Manchester, East Anglia, Newcastle and Sheffield with the Hadley Centre & Met Office. Research considers current and future patterns in urban heat island effect and proposes adaptation strategies

2008-11 INTERREG Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS). SL (Co-I) had knowledge transfer role from ASCCUE. Project aims to improve regional decision and policy making process in relation to planning and development of new and existing urban areas in 9 EU member states in the context of climate change (14 partners, 8 countries)

2007-09 Supermarket Adaptation to Future Environments (SAFE) Funded by Tesco Sustainable Consumption Institute. SL (Co-I) led WP 2 on environmental analysis. Project looked at climate change impacts and adaptations in retail sector. SL led the analytical work

2003-06 Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change in the Urban Environment (ASCCUE). EPSRC GR/S19233/01. Collaborators: Manchester, Cardiff, Southampton & Oxford Brooks. SL (Co-I) led the Manchester work package, developing risk assessment methodologies and characterising the urban environment

2006 Modelling the spatial risk of moorland wildfire. Project followed up on findings of CCVE and aimed to produce a stakeholder informed fire risk map for section 3 moorland in Peak District National Park. Funded by Moors for the Future

2004-06 Climate Change & the Visitor Economy (CCVE). Funded by Defra, Env. Agency & NW Devt Agency. SL (Co-I) led work on regional and local physical capacity analysis, contributed to analysis of climate related risk (inc. spatial risk assessment of wild fire occurrence in Peak District). 5/6 independent reviews rated the work Grade A. Led to work for Welsh Assembly

2002-04 Accessible Natural Green Space Standards in Towns and Cities: A review and toolkit for their implementation. Co-I SL w/ CURE. (Funded by English Nature). Led to follow-up project based in Wales (ANGSt II)

2001-04 Sloping Land Improvement Project (SLIP) British Council funded LINK programme w/ sub-institute of Geo in HCMC, Viet Nam (w/ Douglas & Mcmorrow)

Selected urban air pollution projects

2008-12: EU European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE) (Project No. 211250). Funders EU FP7. The ESCAPE project, coordinated by Utrecht University in the Netherlands, is a study on the health effects of outdoor air pollution. It is conducted by 24 universities and research institutes and aims to improve understanding of the health effects of long-term exposure to fine particles and nitrogen dioxide. The Manchester work, led by Prof Raymond Agius (SL Co-I), involves fine particles and nitrogen dioxide monitoring and assessment of exposures and health outcomes for a Manchester-based childrens cohort

2007-09: Identification and verification of Ultrafine Particle affinity zones in urban neighbourhoods. Joint Env. & Human Health Prog NERC/Defra/EA/MOD/MRC. NE/E009565/1 PI Gallagher (SEAES), CoI (Agius, COEH). SL (CoI) led the geospatial modelling work, working with Paul Harris (Research Associate)