Dr Stephan Harrison
Associate Professor of Quaternary Science


  • Head of the Climate Change Expert Committee of the UK Government's Office for Nuclear Regulation (2011-2017)
  • Head of the Natural Hazards Risk Committee for UK Government's Office for Nuclear Regulation (2017-)
  • An invited member of the Environmental Research Group and the Climate Research Group of the Institute of Actuaries (2005-2009).
  • An invited member of the Carbon Counting Group, an international group of economists, scientists, architects, politicians and environmental activists working in the field of mitigation and adaption for climate change (2005).
  • An invited member of the Climate Justice Programme (2004)
  • An expert witness for the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide looking at the impact of mining on mountain glaciers in the Chilean Andes, and specifically the Pascua Lama mine (2006).
  • An invited member of the Science Media Centre
  • An invited member of the Environmental Research Group of the Emergency Planning Society (2002-2006).
  • Since 2005 he has given 19 invited papers and 4 keynote speeches at international and national conferences and workshops. 
  • He has given invited keynote talks at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC; the 2005 Lloyd’s Risk Lecture and invited talks in Norway, India, Chile, Bolivia, Romania and Austria..
  • He has reviewed manuscripts for 31 different journals and grant applications for NERC and NSF.

Broad research specialisms:

Dr Stephan Harrison's main research interests lie in geomorphological responses to climate change. He has worked for fourteen field seasons on the glaciers of Patagonia studying their late Quaternary fluctuation histories and the geomorphological impact of recent glacier retreat.

Dr Harrison was also recently the UK-coordinator on an EU INCO-COPERNICUS project which examined glacier retreat, climate change and hydrological responses in the northern Tian Shan mountains of Kazakhstan. The project examined the nature and impacts of climate change on the glaciers of the Zailiisky Alatau mountains. In such arid regions of central Asia much of the water used for economic development comes from summer melting of glaciers and permafrost, and these supplies are replenished during winter snowfalls. With global warming, such supplies are under threat and this will have profound political, economic and social repercussions.

Work in contemporary glacial environments allows him to test models of landform evolution from the Quaternary of the British Isles, and he is involved in research on the upland geomorphology of southwest Ireland, southwest England, North Wales and northeast England.

Dr Harrison also has research interests in the philosophy of physical geography. He has written on the ontology of quantum theory as an argument against realist philosophy in geography, and argued for the identification of emergent properties in landscapes as an alternative to the reductionist model-building paradigm. He is a co-author, with Steve Pile and Nigel Thrift, of Patterned Ground: Entanglements of nature and culture which was published in 2004.

Since 2001 Dr Harrison has helped businesses and governmental organisations understand and respond to climate change and he has worked with Lloyd’s Insurance Market, Local Authorities, DFID, Office for Nuclear Regulation and the UK FCO on these issues.


BSc (Leicester),


Contact details

Tel+44 (0) 1326 371871
AddressPeter Lanyon Building
University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
Treliever Road
TR10 9FE

Back | Top of page | Edit Profile | Refresh page