Desert Landscapes of the World
  • Room 018, Rolle Building, Plymouth University

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The Mark Blacksell Lecture is a public lecture that is aimed at a wide audience. Members of the public, academics and anyone with an interest in dryland landscapes will find it stimulating and informative. The lecture this spring will be given by Professor Andrew Goudie from the University of Oxford.

In the last four decades there have been tremendous changes in our ideas about desert landscapes. Using his own field-work in many of the world’s deserts, Andrew Goudie discusses such phenomena as wind erosion, dust storms, pan and yardang formation, salt weathering, and dunes. 

One message is that deserts are very hazardous environments and that a suite of geomorphological processes impact upon the development of these regions, many of which are undergoing rapid change (including urbanisation) and increasing levels of human impact. For example, lakes are drying up as rivers are diverted and more and more water is being abstracted for irrigation and municipal supply, the ground is subsiding as groundwater and hydrocarbons are exploited, dunes are being reactivated as vegetation cover is depleted, and dust storms are being generated as ground surfaces are disturbed. He also considers the abundant evidence that exists for past changes of climate in low latitudes, including high lake levels, and ancient dune fields, and shows how recent developments in dating technologies and means of environmental reconstruction have demonstrated the frequency, timing and degree of change. He also outlines the possible ways in which deserts, some of which may become even drier, may respond to future climate changes on coming decades. Finally he stresses the beauty of desert landscapes and the need for their conservation in the face of increasing human pressures.

Professor Andrew Goudie

Professor Andrew Goudie is an Emeritus Professor in Geography at Oxford University, in the School of Geography and the Environment. His diverse research interests focus on environmental change and geomorphology of the world’s drylands, but also include environmental archaeology and the history of geographical research. He is the author of over 120 research papers and 37 books, of which the three editions of The Dictionary of Physical Geography has supported students for 30 years. His seminal Environmental Change, first published in 1977, brought the topic to a wide audience long before the term entered household usage.

Professor Goudie holds a BA, an MA and a PhD from Cambridge University, and was Professor of Geography at Oxford University from 1984 to 2003. A past President of both the International Association of Geomorphologists and the Geographical Association, he received the Royal Geographical Society’s Royal medal in 1991, the Geological Society of America's Farouk El-Baz Prize for desert research in 2007, and the David Linton Award of the British Society for Geomorphology in 2009.

This public lecture is free to attend but booking is essential. 

Doors will open at 5pm and the lecture will start promptly at 5.15 pm. The audience is also warmly invited to the drinks reception following the talk.

Contact Dr Nicola Whitehouse for queries about this event.

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The Mark Blacksell Public Lecture Series

The purpose of the lecture series is to bring scholars working at the forefront of geographical knowledge to present their research to a public audience. The lecture series is named after Professor Mark Blacksell, a human geographer at Plymouth University with unusually widespread interests and expertise. Appointed Professor of Geography at Plymouth University in 1994, he served as both Head of the Geography Department and Dean of the Faculty of Science, before he formally retired in 2003.

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