IRDR's research focus's in quantifying and reducing the risk of: natural, technological, socio-economic and intentional disasters. These areas of great concern to humanity are monitored and evaluated as their impact is increasing due to climate change, population growth and globalization.
Ongoing and completed research projects undertaken in the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction
- Ongoing Projects
Arctic Adaptation for Climate Change: Sea Ice Dynamics and the Role of Broken Ice in Multi-scale Deformation
As the Arctic warms, the extent of the Arctic Ocean sea ice cover is diminishing but also the proportion of thinner seasonal first-year sea ice is increasing. The impact of the former will mean increased activity in the Arctic Ocean, particularly resource extraction and shipping, while posing challenges to indigenous people and to wildlife. The impact of the latter will mean greater deformation of the sea ice cover, which will influence the sea ice dynamics. Understanding the evolving sea ice thickness distribution and sea ice dynamics with on-going climate change is therefore crucial if the impacts of climate change are to be understood.
Increasing Resilience to Environmental Hazards in Border Conflict Zones (Ladakh, India)
This is a foundation research proposal that focuses on building resilience to multiple environmental hazards through understanding the hazards drivers and the preparedness of culturally diverse resident and migrant communities with heightened vulnerabilities in frontier zones. The research focuses on Ladakh, northern India.
MANTRA: Increasing maternal and child health resilience before, during and after disasters using mobile technology in Nepal
Perinatal women and their newborns are amongst the most vulnerable in disasters when access to healthcare advice and services may be reduced or non-existent. This project investigates building women's resilience by improving access to information and communications before, during and after environmental disasters.
Earthquake Hazard in the Apennines, Italy.
Newly appointed IRDR Lecturer Joanna Faure Walker joined a major NERC multi-partner international project, led by IRDR Executive member Professor Gerald Roberts. She has already secured additional funding and is supervising two research students. David Alexander, IRDR Professor, joined the EEFIT Field Mission to evaluate recovery following the L’Aquila earthquake of 2009.
This programme aims to develop our understanding of sea ice mechanics and engineering problems in the context of environmental and societal risks in the Arctic. Ben Lishman was appointed IRDR Research Fellow. We signed a collaboration agreement with the NTNU, Norway, to support an IRDR Impact PhD Studentship and another with Total (France) for an Impact Studentship to work on arctic navigation. In April 2013 we hosted an international cross-disciplinary IRDR Arctic Risk Forum, addressing Arctic engineering risks and their implications, engaging with academics, engineers and professionals from the City. In May 2013 we hosted an International Rubble Ice Workshop for SAMCoT (see below).
We also have international research partnerships with Russian, Bolivian, Japanese, Greek, Norwegian, and Indian partners. Find out more
- Completed Projects
Water risk and its management in Bolivia’s Altiplano
A joint research project between CAFOD (the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Centre (ABUHC) and the IRDR, launched in 2012 and exceptionally jointly funded by CAFOD for £96k. Dr Stephen Edwards was the Principal Investigator. Dr Megan French was appointed for 3 years as IRDR Research Associate. She holds research degrees in environmental science and marine chemistry.
Water risk in Bangladesh
IRDR Research Fellow Mohammad Shamsudduha (see below) joined the research project “Groundwater resources in the Indo-Gangetic Basin (IGB): resilience to climate change and pumping” awarded to the British Geological Survey by UKaid. The objective is to assess groundwater resources in the IGB and to strengthen the evidence base linking groundwater, climate population and human abstraction of the basin. The UCL research team (including Dr Richard Taylor, Geography, and Dr William Burgess, Earth Sciences) conducted extensive field research in Bangladesh and West Bengal.
Probability, Uncertainty and Risk in the Environment
A UCL-led 4-year NERC consortium project (funded for £2 million) involving UK university and industrial partners. Richard Chandler (Statistical Science) is the Principal Investigator. Dr Simon Day, a leading authority on tsunami, and Joakim Beck, a statistician in natural hazards, were appointed as IRDR Research Associates. The project links to statistical modelling of tsumami by IRDR Executive member Dr Serge Guillas and partnership with Tohoku University.
David Alexander co-lead a pan-European, multi-partner, EC project on cascading crises funded for euro 4.75 million during 2014 until 2017
Earthquake Hazard Assessment
Using statistical physics approaches is a collaboration between IRDR Visiting Professor Filippos Vallianatos and IRDR Director Peter Sammonds, involving analysis of seismicity data, mathematical modelling and laboratory experiments. It wa substantially funded by the Greek Scholarships Foundation, TEI Crete and the IRDR, supporting four IRDR PhD research students.
The IRDR launched an open fellowship call, for excellent early-career researchers in any discipline in the field of risk and disaster reduction. The purpose was to produce excellent research with high impact, build capacity in the field and to signal our support and encouragement for early-career researchers from around the world to apply for prestigious fellowships to be held in the IRDR. We set up two 3-year fellowships in 2012.
Dr Ben Lishman
Appointed in April 2012 to a 3-year IRDR Research Fellowship, in the area of Arctic engineering risks. Ben holds an MEng, an MPhil and a PhD from Cambridge University in engineering. He has worked at UCL and most recently has been a Research Associate at the Bristol Glaciological Centre. The Arctic sea-ice cover has thinned in thickness and geographical extent over the last twenty years, and it is projected to do so for the next twenty years. One effect is that the Arctic is more accessible, and heavy engineering – particularly for hydrocarbon production, mining and shipping – is increasing. This increase in economic activity has associated risks. The Arctic is a complex environment due to its remoteness, fragile ecosystems, the cold, the clash of local livelihoods with global capital, and the presence of sea ice. Sea ice both poses a hazard to offshore operations and shipping, and can act to transport and concentrate pollutants. Ben, working with Danny Feltham (Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling), will simulate sea ice floe interactions, in the laboratory and environmental ice tank, and model sea ice dynamics using discrete element models in order to assess safe ice loads on offshore structures.
Dr Mohammad Shamsudduha
Appointed in March 2012 to a 3-year IRDR Research Fellowship in the area of water risk. “Shams” holds a BSc and MSc in geology from Dhaka, MScs from Sydney and Auburn and a PhD in hydrogeology from UCL. Shams concurrently was funded by EPSRC for a KE fellowship on water risks in Bangladesh. His research will be included in the Earth Sciences REF Impact Case Study on water risks and has been featured in a Nature Climate Change paper he co-authored. Every year many water-related hazards such as flood, tropical cycle, and drought affect people’s lives, properties and environments throughout the world. Globally, more than 50% of these naturally occurring disasters are hydrological. Amongst the hydroclimatological hazards, prolonged drought conditions resulting from insufficient rainfall and inadequate renewal of groundwater through rain-fed recharge can lead to serious social and economic disasters. In addition to water scarcity, poor water quality due to chemical and pathogenic contamination can lead to serious public health hazard.