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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Louise Bracken

Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41846
Fax: +44 (0)191 33 41801
Room number: S104
Professor, Executive Director - Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Catchments and Rivers
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 225
Advisory Board Chair in the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience
Room number: S104, Geography
Deputy to the Vice-Provost (Research) in the Vice-Chancellor's Office

Contact Professor Louise Bracken (email at


My research is focused primarily upon the dynamic and complex relationship within rivers between the processes that generate and supply fine sediment, and those that move the sediment through the river system. In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that fine sediment is a key factor in the environmental quality of a river system, as it plays an important role in determining the nature and rate of transport of nutrients and contaminants. Hence, the understanding of possible sources, pathways and fates of fine sediment is now recognised as an important element of water resource management. Within this framework my research has three broad themes: (1) spatial variations in runoff and sediment transfer, including the pathways that runoff and sediment follow (hydrological connectivity); (2) the supply of sediment from gullies and bank erosion; and (3) practices of undertaking interdisciplinary research to bring together the scientific outputs from the natural sciences with those of social sciences.

1) Spatial variations in runoff and sediment transfer
My research on the spatial variation in runoff and sediment transfer is conducted in both semi-arid and temperate environments. This research, which has involved detailed field monitoring and laboratory analyses, has allowed a new level of quantification of the rates at which sediment enters and moves through the evolving gully system, and has permitted the development of new models to understand the processes through which sediment delivery and transport occur.

2) The supply of sediment from gullies and bank erosion
The supply of sediment from gullies in semi-arid environments is important because many arid areas appear to be entering a new phase of dynamism. My research on this topic has helped in determining and defining the factors that control the generation of gullies, and in determining the response of gullies in terms of morphology and channel-form to environmental perturbations. My research on bank erosion as a sediment source was has helped to quantify the volume of material added by river channel instability.

3) Practices of undertaking interdisciplinary research
This research theme focuses on the development of an interdisciplinary framework for the investigation of earth surface systems. This work is critically important because it utilises a holistic approach that draws upon the skills and practices from different disciplines to produce new levels of understanding of problems facing the global community, most notably the impact of policy and anthropogenic behaviour on environmental processes.

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Research Projects

Department of Anthropology

  • Rhetoric, Agency, and Farmers’ Knowledge in the Management of Upland Environmental Processes in the UK

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Show all publications


Selected Grants

  • 2019: i-CONN: Interdisciplinary connectivity: Understanding and managing complex systems using connectivity science, Interreg (ERDF) Europe, €4 million, 2019-10-01 - 2023-09-30
  • 2018: NERC Indonesia - Java Flood One (£24732.56 from Natural Environmental Research Council)
  • 2016: RF150394: H2020-NATURVATION, European Commission, 2016-2020
  • 2014: A Catchment Based Approach to Flood Risk Management in the Roe Beck Catchment, Cumbria (£7996.00 from Eden Rivers Trust)
  • 2012: Aquatic habitat in the River Esk: North York Moors (£4270.00 from North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority)
  • 2012: Improving public engagement in ecosystems service based environmental management (£4032.00 from Environment Agency)
  • 2012: Review of Micro-Hydro: technical, environmental, social and economic dimensions (£2410.00 from Epsrc)
  • 2011: Esk Pearl Mussel and Salmon Recovery Project (£3466.00 from North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority)
  • 2011: Sustainable energy: Future and the negotiation... (£4990.00 from InCluESEV)
  • 2010: Managing borderlands: adaptive decision making (£20173.25 from ESRC)
  • 2009: Esk Pearl Mussel and Salmon Recovery Project (£3390.00 from North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority)
  • 2008: ESK PEARL MUSSEL & SALMON RECOVERY (£2500.00 from Environment Agency)
  • 2007: ESK PEARL MUSSEL AND SALMON RECOVERY (£3150.00 from North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority)
  • 2007: FINE SEDIMENT FLUX IN RIVER CATCHMENTS (£14000.00 from Environment Agency Leeds)
  • 2007: WATER QUALITY SAMPLING PEARL MUSSELS (£1400.00 from Environment Agency)
  • 2006: ANGLING IN THE RURAL ENVIRONMENT (£64972.00 from ESRC)
  • 2004: MONITORING FINE SEDIMENT (£10000.00 from Environment Agency)
  • 2003: THE TRANSFER OF FINE SEDIMENT (£1500.00 from Royal Geographical Society)