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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Professor Tim Burt

Emeritus Professor in the Department of Geography
Fax: +44 (0)191 33 41801
Room number:

Contact Professor Tim Burt (email at


My research interests focus on catchment hydrology and water quality. Much of my research has been on nitrate pollution and I am currently involved in analysing nitrate records from the Frome and Piddle rivers in Dorset (working with Nicholas Howden at Bristol). I continue to work on nitrate records from the Slapton catchments in South Devon (records from 1970), some of the longest for small catchments anywhere. I also study soil erosion: in the lowlands on agricultural land, and in the uplands on blanket peat moorland where losses of soil carbon are of increasing concern. Research with Fred Worrall in Earth Sciences has focused on dissolved organic carbon in particular. With Stuart Lane, I have supervised PhD students working on catchment influences on in-stream habitats and fish populations in the River Eden and in Wensleydale. I also have an interest in climatic history, having worked extensively on records from the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford (records from 1767), and from the Durham Observatory (records from 1850). I am currently responsible for the weather records at Durham: having previous been responsible for the Radcliffe (1986-96), this means I have run the two university weather stations with the longest records in the country. Current research on heavy rainfall and flooding includes work on rainfall at Durham and Oxford, and in Sri Lanka. I am currently Chairman of the Field Studies Council and a member of the UK Environmental Change Network's Statistical and Technical Advisory Group. At Durham University, I am responsible for coordinating all the University’s environmental sustainability initiatives and I chair the University’s Fairtrade Group.

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Climate change
  • Environmental monitoring and diagnostics including water quality, hillslope and fluvial processes
  • Geomorphology
  • Hillslope
  • Integrated catchment management
  • Soil erosion
  • Water quality, in particular nutrient pollution

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Edited book

  • Warburton, J. & Lane, S.N. Land Management and the Protection of the Water Environment: Understanding the Impact of New Legislation. Proceedings of the Ninth National Symposium. British Hydrological Society; 2006.

Chapter in book

  • Pinay, G., Burt, T.P. & Gimiera, B. Floodplains in river ecosystems. In: Ziglio, G., Siligardi, M. & Falim, G. Biological Monitoring of Rivers. Wiley; 2006.
  • Anderson, M.G. & Burt, T.P. The role of topography in controlling throughflow generation. In: Beven, K.J. Streamflow Generation Processes. Wallingford.: IHAS Press; 2006:291-304.
  • Burt, T.P. General/Particular. In: Castree, N., Rogers, A.P. & Sherman, D. Questioning Geography. Blackwell; 2005:117-130.
  • Burt, T.P. & Slattery, M.C. Land use and land cover effects on runoff processes: agricultural effects. In: Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. John Wiley; 2005.
  • Burt, T.P. Realms of gold, wild surmise and wondering about physical geography. In: Trudgill, S.T. & Roy, A. Contemporary Meanings in Physical Geography. London.: Arnold; 2003:49-61.
  • Burt, T.P. Scale: upscaling and downscaling in physical geography. In: Holloway, S.L., Rice, S.P. & Valentine, G. Key Concepts in Geography. London.: Sage; 2003:209-227.
  • Burt, T.P., Warburton, J. & Allison, R.J. Eroding upland landscapes? Past, present and future perspectives. In: Burt, T.P., Thompson, D.B.A. & Warburton, J. The British Uplands: Dynamics of change. Peterborough.: JNCC; 2002:60-66.
  • Higgitt, D.L. & Warburton, J. GPS: A tool for mapping the uplands. In: Burt, T.P., Thompson, D.B.A. & Warburton, J. The British Uplands: Dynamics of Change. JNCC; 2002:134-135.
  • Danks, M. & Warburton, J. Historical river channel change - Swinhope Burn, Upper Weardale. In: Burt, T.P., Thompson, D.B.A. & Warburton, J. The British Uplands: Dynamics of Change. JNCC; 2002:125-126.
  • Burt, T.P. Hydrological processes in riparian buffer zones. In: Hatano, R., Mander, U., Hayakawa, Y., Kuusemets, V., Watanabe, Y. & Kanazawa, K. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Efficiency of Purification Processes in Riparian Buffer Zones. National Agricultural Research Centre for Hokkaido; 2002:1-11.
  • A. Mills, J. Warburton & D.L. Higgitt Peat mass movements: a World and regional database. In: T.P. Burt, D.B.A. Thompson & J. Warburton The British Uplands: Dynamics of Change. JNCC; 2002:166-167.
  • Johnson, R.M., Warburton, J. & Burt, T.P. Torrent erosion in Lake District mountain cathments. In: Burt, T.P., Thompson, D.B.A. & Warburton, J. The British Uplands: Dynamics of Change. Peterborough.: JNCC; 2002:139-140.

Conference Paper

Conference Proceeding

  • Widdison, P.E., Burt, T.P., Donoghuem D.N.M. & Hudson, R. Responses to water quality problems in the Leet catchment. Edinburgh.: SAC and SEPA Biennial Conference; 2006.
  • Widdison, P.E., Hudson, R. & Burt, T.P. Water Framework Directive: Implications for Farmers in the Leet Water Catchment. Edinburgh.: SAC and SEPA Biennial Conference; 2004.


Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Admissions & college affairs: college admissions
  • General issues: general environmental issues
  • Landscape & buildings: geomorphology
  • Seas & rivers: river hydrology and geomorphology
  • Weather & climate: weather observation
  • Weather & climate: recent climate history
  • Pollution: pollution transport in agricultural catchments
  • Pollution: nitrate
  • Pollution: phosphate
  • Engineering: Other contexts: soil conservation and buffer zone management

Selected Grants

  • 2009: CATCHMENT CHANGE NETWORK (CCN) (£6726.16 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 2009: Sustainable uplands: communicating and learning to live with change (£2716.44 from ESRC)
  • 2000: NICHE/CHASM (£1.00 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 1997: NICHOLAS FPIV ENV + CLIMATE (£186199.00 from )