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Professor Tom Spencer

Professor Tom Spencer

Professor of Coastal Dynamics, Director of Cambridge Research Unit and Professorial Fellow

Magdalene College

Physical geography at the interface between geomorphology and the geological and biological sciences, with particular reference to coral reefs and associated ecosystems (seagrass, mangroves) and coastal geomorphology.


Departments and Institutes

Geography:

Research Interests

Research

Earth and Environmental Systems: Processes and Change - Monitoring and Modelling Environmental Processes

Hydrodynamics, sedimentation, ecological processes in temperate tidal wetlands and mangrove swamps; estuarine hydro- and morpho-dynamics; coastal zone management with particular reference to global environmental change.

Earth and Environmental Systems: Processes and Change - Environmental Change

Global environmental change in the ocean basins, including large-scale coral bleaching dynamics in the western Indian Ocean and sea-level changes on Pacific Ocean islands. Vulnerability of coastal wetlands to sea level rise, at global and regional scales.

Spatial Processes and Earth Observation - Earth Observation

Visualising the annual to decadal evolution of large-scale coastal morphology and sediment dynamics. Multi-spectral scanner technology to assess the stability of major European estuaries. The use of digital videography for coral reef monitoring. Terrestrial laser-scanning at the coast.

Other Professional Activities

Career:

  • 1979-1988: University Lecturer in Geography, University of Manchester
  • 1989-1999: University Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2000-2011: Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2011-2016: Reader in Coastal Ecology and Geomorphology, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2016- : Professor of Coastal Dynamics , Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Also:

  • 1997-present: Director, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit, University of Cambridge
  • 1989-present: Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge
  • 1990-1993: Dean of College, Magdalene College, Cambridge
  • 1994-1999: Tutor for Graduate Students, Magdalene College, Cambridge
  • 1994-2013: Tutor for Graduate Admissions, Magdalene College, Cambridge

Qualifications

  • MA Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
  • PhD Magdalene College, University of Cambridge 'Limestone erosion rates and microtopography; Grand Cayman Island, West Indies'

Keywords

  • risk
  • Mangroves
  • Saltmarshes
  • Storm surge
  • climate change
  • geomorphology
  • ecosystems

Key Publications

Featured publications

  • Spencer, T., Möller, I., Rupprecht, F., Bouma, T.J., van Wesenbeeck, B.K., Kudella, M., Paul, M., Jensen, K., Wolters, G., Miranda-Lange, M. and Schimmels, S., 2016. Salt marsh surface survives true-to-scale simulated storm surges. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 41, p.543-552. doi:10.1002/esp.3867.
  • Spencer, T., Schuerch, M., Nicholls, R.J., Hinkel, J., Lincke, D., Vafeidis, A.T., Reef, R., McFadden, L. and Brown, S., 2016. Global coastal wetland change under sea-level rise and related stresses: The DIVA Wetland Change Model. Global and Planetary Change, v. 139, p.15-30. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.12.018.
  • Spencer, T., Brooks, S.M., Evans, B.R., Tempest, J.A. and Möller, I., 2015. Southern North Sea storm surge event of 5 December 2013: Water levels, waves and coastal impacts. Earth-Science Reviews, v. 146, p.120-145. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.04.002.
  • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T., 2012. Shoreline retreat and sediment release in response to accelerating sea level rise: Measuring and modelling cliffline dynamics on the Suffolk Coast, UK. GLOBAL PLANET CHANGE, v. 80-81, p.165-179. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2011.10.008.
  • FRENCH, J.R. and SPENCER, T., 1993. DYNAMICS OF SEDIMENTATION IN A TIDE-DOMINATED BACKBARRIER SALT-MARSH, NORFOLK, UK. MAR GEOL, v. 110, p.315-331.

Books

  • Thomas, D.S.G., 2016. The Dictionary of Physical Geography, John Wiley & Sons. 632pp.
  • Fletcher, C.A. and Spencer, T., 2009. Flooding and Environmental Challenges for Venice and its Lagoon State of Knowledge, Cambridge University Press. 736pp.
  • Slaymaker, O., Spencer, T. and Embleton-Hamann, C. (eds.), 2009. Geomorphology and Global Environmental Change, Cambridge University Press. 434pp.
  • Spencer, T., 2009. Atlas of the Amirantes, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit. p.vi-66.
  • Slaymaker, O. and Spencer, T., 1998. Physical Geography and Global Environmental Change, Prentice Hall. 292pp.
  • Benton, T.G., Spencer, T. and London, L.S.O., 1995. The Pitcairn Islands Biogeography, Ecology and Prehistory : Proceedings of an International Discussion Meeting Held at the Linnean Society, 5-6 May 1994, Academic Press. 422pp.
  • Viles, H. and Spencer, T., 1995. Coastal problems: geomorphology, ecology and society at the coast.
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