Natural Hazards


We are a team of internationally recognised researchers in the field of Natural Hazards, focusing on the understanding of processes underpinning floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, weather extremes and wildfires. Our cutting-edge research also includes advanced monitoring and artificial intelligence methods to improve predictions of hazardous natural events and mitigate the impacts, fostering a more resilient world. 

Our dedicated team of researchers in Natural Hazards actively contributes to the development and dissemination of research and education programmes via a strong network of international partnerships. This ensures that our pioneering research both expands our knowledge of and capacity to manage natural hazards, but also directly serves the needs of local and national governments, industry, businesses and humanitarian agencies.

We believe in interdisciplinarity and draw on collaborations from other University departments and disciplines to gain comprehensive insights into hazard processes, ultimately promoting safety, resilience, and innovation on a global scale.

Active projects are as varied as improving healthcare during severe flooding in India, understanding the effects of climate change on coastal landslides and erosion in the UK, developing heavy rainfall forecasts for India with machine learning, understanding tsunamis generation and impacts in Indonesia, and involve active collaborations with both universities and government agencies in many countries including the UK, India, Chile, Indonesia. The University of Birmingham is a prominent UK institution actively participating in the Met Office Academic Partnership. Our expertise plays a key role in enhancing decision-making in the face of natural hazards.

Research areas


We develop cutting-edge methods to enhance flood forecasting and floodplain mapping. Our research delves into flood non-stationarity in the context of changing climate and land cover, as well as projecting river flows considering both urban expansion and climate change. Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, we explore the intricate dynamics of river systems. We also extend the research to encompass water and public health. Examples of ongoing work include the investigation of flood risk evolution in the UK, integration of machine learning with processed-based models to improve probabilistic forecasting, assessment of the impacts of climate change on water systems, and the development of innovative flood mitigation strategies. 


We use advanced laboratory testing to assess landslide movements triggered by rainfall and earthquakes, offering predictive insights for complex hillslope stress histories, and improving our understanding of rupture processes leading to slope failure. We also develop cutting edge in-situ and remote sensing methods for regional and slope scale studies, to enhance our ability to identify incipient instabilities and to improve observability of slope instability history for better predictions. We have collaborations with partners in industry in the UK as well as in research institutions in the Global South for improving resilience of vulnerable communities.


Working in tandem with our colleagues in the Dynamic Earth group, our research aims to understand the behaviour and evolution of volcanic systems, volcano explosivity and periodicity, and to link petrological, experimental, statistical and field measurements with monitoring to improve eruption forecasting.  The volcano group has active projects on volcanoes around the world, including in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Mexico and the Caribbean. The group uses cross-disciplinary approaches to understand and minimise the impacts from large magnitude explosive eruptions and other global catastrophic risks. We are strong advocates for increased efforts to monitor, prepare and mitigate the impacts from globally catastrophic eruptions.


Our geohazard research also includes a focus on complex tsunami sources, particularly those associated with volcanic eruptions and landslide processes. Through this, we seek to understand the factors controlling the nature, magnitude and timing of tsunami-generating events. Our research aims to address the challenges with forecasting and mitigating non-earthquake generated tsunamis, and includes collaborations with international partners in regions subject to these hazards.

Weather extremes

Other fundamental and applied research spanning Natural Hazards and Meteorology and Climate investigates meteorological and climatological extreme events from extreme precipitation to hazardous extra-tropical cyclones affecting the UK. We have a vast portfolio of ongoing work including e.g., the analysis of storm tracks and associated impacts for the insurance industry, the impact of heat waves in urban areas for use by city planners and the better understanding of large-scale circulations governing climate phenomena to improve monsoon forecasting.


Wildfire threats are changing globally. Traditional fire-prone regions see increased size, severity, and frequency, while new vulnerable areas emerge. Notably, recent large-scale wildfires in the UK's urban areas highlight the urgency and challenges of mitigation, reshaping public perception during deadly summer heatwaves. At the University of Birmingham, we are addressing this grand challenge, working to understand the current and evolving threat from wildfires both here in the UK and in traditionally fire prone countries. We are working to develop strategies that mitigate the risk, whilst considering the wider environmental, social and cultural impacts of such measures, and to train the next generation of experts in integrated fire management, with the necessary knowledge and skills to address this long-term and evolving challenge. 

Decision-making under uncertainty

Interdisciplinary research is dedicated to address critical challenges in disaster risk reduction and to support decision-making under conditions of uncertainty. This has the ultimate goal of placing our research team at the forefront of practical recommendations provision to policymakers, strengthening community resilience. As part of this work, we develop collaborative governance models in the Global South aimed at improving resilience and research and apply enactive-cognitive approaches to understand place attachment in rapidly eroding coastal areas of east England.

Research funding

The interdisciplinary nature of our research means we successfully draw on funding from a wide range of sources.  These include NERC, EPSRC and Horizon Europe but, given the applied nature of our research, our work is also supported directly by Industry as well as Innovate UK.

Postgraduate opportunities

PhD Funding Sources

We are part of the CENTA DTP which is the first port of call for funding, but other opportunities are often available via the College of Life and Environmental Science or CASE funding with other industrial partners. As part of the Met Office Academic Partnership, new projects calls are open under the DSIT funded Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership South Africa.