School of Geography

Postgraduate Conference Day 2010

14 December 2010

Time: 4:00 - 6:30pm
Venue: City Centre Seminar Room, FB 2.07

4.00pm – Introductions (Jon May)

4.05 - Helen Gibbs
Urban River Restoration: some potential problems associated with fine sediment accumulation

4.25 - Adam Sutcliffe
Modelling river channel maintenance: the effects of weed-cutting regimes on river flow hydraulics

4.45 - Marcus Hatch
The Solent River Project: placing human occupation in its stratigraphic context

5.05 – Ruth Boogert
Mired in Complexity: Modelling Cross-scale Ecohydrological Feedbacks in Northern Peatland Systems

15 MINUTE BREAK

5.40 - Camille Aznar
To bank or not to bank: Risk in the transnational financial livelihoods of low paid migrants

6.00 – Mara Ferreri
Performing vacant spaces

6.30            CLOSE


Ruth  Boogert

Mired in Complexity: Modelling Cross-scale Ecohydrological Feedbacks in Northern Peatland Systems

I will describe why peatlands are so exciting and vital but are under extreme threat from human beings. The task of predicting and quantifying the responses of peatland systems to changing environments is a challenge when the ecosystem in question can take thousands of years to develop, and incorporates a huge amount of variability in both space and time, and within and between different sites. I examine a new way of generating computer models for such systems which may help tackle some of these problems.

Come along and meet Pete Marsh, the UK’s most famous bog body, but apparently not much of a chef, and some more recent peatland inhabitants; flesh eating plants, the old man of the woods, and the bog hog of Hatfield. Find out how eating KitKats can cause respiratory disease, what peat bogs have in common with traffic jams, and how a bit of collective computer power could make all the difference.

 

Camille Aznar

To bank or not to bank: Risk in the transnational financial livelihoods of low paid migrants

This presentation explores the role of risk in the financial livelihoods of poor migrant workers in London. In particular, it examines how risk emerges as both as a supply and demand side factor, critical in shaping migrants’ engagement with financial institutions and vice versa. Through a detailed analysis of low paid migrants’ formal and informal financial practices, this study aims to reflect upon the way migrants manage different levels and types of risk whereby the costs of being financially excluded are balanced against and shaped by their migration histories, immigration status and transnational lives. Conceptually, it provides an important contribution to understandings of how risk is constructed by both individuals and institutions and how this translates into particular risk management strategies. On a broader scale, it responds to the need to situate risks, and notably financial risks, in their socio-cultural environment.

Within a mixed methods framework, this research adopts a comparative case-study approach to review the issues surrounding the everyday financial practices of two carefully chosen migrant communities in London: Moroccans and French-speaking Cameroonians.

 

Mara Ferreri

Performing vacant spaces

Vacant spaces have become important symbolic battlegrounds for strategies of urban governance aiming at smoothing the visible symptoms of uneven development. With the diffusion of 'creative cities' regeneration policies, cultural practices have increasingly been enrolled to reuse empty sites not only in order to promote different urban imaginaries, but most importantly to actively perform seamlessly vibrant urban economies. Short-term art projects and 'pop-up' shops come to inhabit the temporary time-space of vacancy and abandonment, and in doing so encroach upon traditional forms of urban social action such as squatting and anti-gentrification campaigns. My research moves from a critique of the idea of reuse as inherently alternative to existing urban dynamics, towards a more detailed engagement with current legal, economic and social dimensions of political and artistic vacant space reuse in London. I will discuss how the idea of performativity can offer a more nuanced discussion of the production of urban vacancy and its potentialities.

 

Helen Gibbs

Urban River Restoration: some potential problems associated with fine sediment accumulation

Sediments within rivers act as a store for various contaminants including metals.  The extent to which these sediments store metals, and therefore its quality, is dependent upon a number of physiochemical sediment characteristics including grain size, redox and organic matter content.  As urban rivers are increasingly being restored through techniques such as bed and bank protection removal, re-meandering and in-channel enhancement, the hydraulic and physical conditions within the river channels are being altered.  However, significant consideration has not yet been given to understanding how these restoration practices impact upon contaminant storage and hence ecosystem health in urban rivers.

This presentation reports on an investigation of sediment quality, in terms of metal concentrations, in different bed sediment types within restored and un-restored river reaches in London.  Preliminary results will be presented with a discussion of the spatial variations in metal concentrations found in these sediments, noting contrasts: between the four sites; between restored and un-restored river reaches; and, between different patch types.

 

Adam Sutcliffe

Modelling river channel maintenance: the effects of weed-cutting regimes on river flow hydraulics

A major factor affecting flood conveyance in small to medium-sized water courses is the growth of aquatic plants. In-stream vegetation increases the resistance to flow, giving higher flood levels for a given discharge and leading to greater incidence of over-bank flooding. The Pitt Review into the 2007 floods highlighted the management of channels and their aquatic vegetation as a serious issue. With increased temperatures and more frequent summer storms predicted by climate change scenarios, the coincidence of high flows with high plant growth is likely to increase. It is, therefore, critical that the effect of plant growth on river flow hydraulics is better understood in order to provide a sound basis for the management of aquatic plants. By monitoring the effects of weed cutting regimes on river flow hydraulics on the River Lambourn in Berkshire, a methodology for modelling the interaction of river flow hydraulics with in-stream vegetation is developed. This will enable the identification of optimal management regimes with specific reference to weed cut patterns, timing and frequency. The development of a three-dimensional hydraulic model to be solved using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software is presented. The measurement requirements for model calibration are also introduced.

 

Marcus Hatch

The Solent River Project: placing human occupation in its stratigraphic context

The Solent River formed the largest fluvial system of southern England during the Quaternary Period and presented a major gateway for early hominin populations entering Britain. Abundant Lower Palaeolithic artefacts, notably handaxes, are found in the gravel terraces that the river left behind, having been incorporated within floodplain sweepings after their discard. Currently there are issues regarding correlation between the main Solent and its tributaries, alongside conflicting models of the terrace stratigraphy of the Solent River itself. There also remain uncertainties in dating many elements of the Solent system. The main aim of the Solent River Project is to improve contextual understanding of the rich archaeological resource of the region by developing a new stratigraphic and chronological framework of the Solent River and its tributaries.

My research is focused on the development of the Solent River system through the investigation of its terrace stratigraphy. Existing modelling of the Solent stratigraphy will be critiqued via a comprehensive review of the region’s borehole record and new data collection. A variety of fieldwork techniques will be employed at key sites to enable a re-assessment of current interpretations of the stratigraphic record. I will present background and initial fieldwork results.