Dr Susan E Lee B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. FRMetS

Dr Susan E Lee

Department of Civil Engineering
Research Fellow

Contact details

Civil Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Lee is a Research Fellow on the Transforming Birmingham – a city system approach scoping study funded by the EPSRC (£60k). This scoping study is critically assessing all the energy system modelling approaches across the UK as to their suitability for the inclusion of waste and transport systems within an urban environment. This will then enable the development of a much larger study that will be able to build on this knowledge. This will address the urgent need for policy makers to have a user-friendly integrated systems modelling framework that will enable them to make crucial decisions not only about energy provision but waste, transport and housing within the UK, to build a low carbon economy. 

Dr Lee's research interests include resource flows (energy, water, people, materials and waste) and sustainability, the urban environment (infrastructure, weather and climate, and ecological aspects), meso- and micro-climatology, agricultural meteorology, severe weather impacts and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

She has worked across a number of disciplines, funded by several different UK research councils (NERC, ESRC and EPSRC) as well as the European Union, ranging from Architecture, Arctic Ecology, Agriculture, Global Ecology and Meteorology to Environmental Sciences and Engineering.


  • Ph.D in climate and vegetation modelling, University of Sheffield, 1998.
  • M.Sc. in Agricultural Meteorology, University of Reading, 1987.
  • BSc (Sp. Hons) Geography, University of Sheffield, 1984
  • Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society
  • Associate Fellow of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society


Susan joined the School in January 2013. She previously worked at Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield Universities on a number of research projects, most recently the NERC-funded Microclimates Project at Leeds. This project investigated the impact of spatio-climatic variability on land-based renewable energy sources such as wind power and bio-energy crops. Previously she worked on the SCORCHIO Project (2007-2010) funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) at both Manchester and Sheffield Universities. 

This project was concerned with the impact of climate change on the built environment. Prior to this work, Susan spent eight years modelling climate and vegetation at the global and the regional scale (Arctic) at Sheffield University. She has also spent time in the Nordic countries and has modelled arctic vegetation. In addition, she has produced a paper on the impact of a changing climate on the Saami reindeer herders of northern Finland. 

During the late 1980’s Susan worked as a weather forecaster for the UK Meteorological Office. She presented radio broadcasts and supplied weather data for the general public, aviation and the local press in North-West England.


She presents occasional lectures at postgraduate level on Sustainability within Engineering and Geography and assists Ph.D.students within both Schools. Whilst at Manchester University, she was a part-time tutor for the Centre for Continuing Education and ran evening classes in Meteorology and Climate Change for mature students.


Current Research Project:

Transforming Birmingham – a city system approach, University of Birmingham
June 2017 – Feb 2018
Research Fellow on an Energy Systems Catapult/EPSRC – funded scoping study investigating whole energy system modelling

Previous research projects:

Transforming the Engineering of Cities to Deliver Societal and Planetary Wellbeing
(Liveable Cities) University of Birmingham
May 2012 – Dec 2017.

Research Fellow on the £6.3 million Liveable Cities multi-disciplinary programme funded by the EPSRC. This work included the study of urban metabolism and the use of material flow analysis to investigate the resource flows of cities. City performance was assessed from social, economic and environmental perspectives. This included assessing urban sustainability, resilience and liveability of cities both for their citizens, as well as planet Earth.


A NERC-funded project set up to investigate the impact of spatio-climatic variability on land-based renewable energy sources such as wind power and bio-energy crops.


SCORCHIO (Sustainable Cities: Options for Responding to Climate cHange Impacts and Outcomes) project funded by EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) (Spring 2007 to Autumn 2010). A GIS based tool was developed using the latest forecasts from the UK Climate Impacts Programme UKCIP to assist planners, designers, engineers and users to adapt urban areas, with a particular emphasis on heat and human comfort. This included work on identifying the urban heat island of Manchester and the use of building simulation models to identify internal temperatures and thermal comfort within residential buildings. The Universities of Manchester, East Anglia, Newcastle and Sheffield with the Hadley Centre, Met Office were all involved in this work.


BASIS (Barents Sea Impact Study) project (1997 to 2000) was carried out by an interdisciplinary team of specialists from 13 institutions in 6 countries funded by the European Commission. This led onto the BALANCE project.

See: Lange, M. and the BASIS consortium (2003): "The Barents Sea Impact Study (BASIS): methodology and first results", Continental Shelf Research, 23: 1673-1694



Susan presented papers at a number of conferences in Europe and the Nordic Countries, as well as the USA, related to vegetation modelling. She was a Joint organiser of the IRISEN (Integrated Regional Impact Studies in the European North) study course at the Abisko Research Station in Sweden (July 1999). Twenty-five students from 13 countries joined more than twenty experts to explore the issue of integrated regional impact studies in an interdisciplinary manner.

TIGER IV (Terrestrial Initiative in Global Environmental Research) Programme (1992 – 1997) funded by NERC (Natural Environment Research Council).

See the following for details about some of this work:


Development of vegetation models,Dynamic glObal phtogeographY (DOLY) and the Sheffield Dynamic Global Vegetation Model (SDGVM).  http://www.ctcd.group.shef.ac.uk/science/vegmodels/part2.html

Other work:

Investigating the Lappish climate in northern Finland (1997). This work was concerned with the influence of climate on the vegetation and reindeer of northern Finland, and the possible effects of climate change on the Saami people (Lapps). Climate data were analysed involving collaborative work with colleagues from the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. This project was funded by the ESRC.

Arctic Centre, Rovaniemi, Finland.


Weather forecasting for the UKMO at Manchester Weather Centre (1990-1992);

Agricultural Meteorologist and Adviser in the public services and building and construction climatology unit at the UKMO (1987-1990)


  • Palafox, G., Lee, S., Bouch, C., Hunt, D., and Rogers, C. 2017. The Little Book of Circular Economy in cities. A Short Guide to Urban Metabolism and Resource Flows. In, Little Book Series. Boyko, C.T. & Coulton, C. (Eds.). ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University. 

  • Lee, S.E., Quinn, A.D., Bryson, J.R., Radcliffe, J., Towards the Development of an Energy City Systems Conceptual Framework. 2017. ISNGI 2017. ICE, 1, Great George Street, London.

  • Leach, J.M., Lee, S. E., Hunt, D. V. L., Rogers, C. D. F. Improving city-scale measures of livable sustainability: A study of urban measurement and assessment through application to the city of Birmingham, UK. 2017. Cities, Vol 71, pp. 80-87.[1]

  • Leach, J.M., Lee, S.E., Boyko, C.T., et al. 2017. Dataset of the livability performance of the city of Birmingham, UK, as measured by its citizen wellbeing, resource security, resource efficiency and carbon emissions. Data in Brief. 15: 691-695.

  • Ferranti, E.J.S., Jaroszweski, D., Lee, S., Chapman, L., Lowe, C., and Quinn, A., 2017. The hottest day on the railway network; insights and thoughts for the future. Meteorological Applications.Boyko, C. T., Clune, S., Cooper, R. D. F., et al. 2017. How Sharing Can Contribute to More Sustainable Cities.  Sustainability Vol. 9, No. 5, Paper 701, p. 1-16. Contributing Author.

  • Leach, J.M., Braithwaite, P.A., Lee, S.E., Bouch, C.J., Hunt, D.V.L., Rogers, C.D.F Measuring urban sustainability and liveability performance: the City Analysis Methodology (CAM).  International Journal of Complexity in Applied Science and Technology (IJCAST) 1 (1) 86–106.
  • Lee, S.E., Braithwaite, P., Leach, J.M., Rogers, C.D.F. (2016) A comparison of energy systems in Birmingham, UK, with Masdar City, an embryonic city in Abu Dhabi Emirate. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 65, 1299-1309.
  • Armstrong, A., Burton, R.R., Lee, S.E., Mobbs, S., Ostle, N., Smith, V., Waldron, S., Whitaker, J., (2016) Ground-level climate at a peatland wind farm in Scotland is affected by wind turbine operation. Environmental Research Letters 11, 1-8.
  • Lee, S.E., Quinn, A.D., Rogers, C.D.F. (2016) Advancing City Sustainability via Its Systems of Flows: The Urban Metabolism of Birmingham and Its Hinterland. Sustainability 8.
  • Lee, S.E., Leach, J.M., Hunt, D.V.L., Bouch, C. and Rogers, C.D.F. Urban resource flows and waste for Birmingham, UK. Resources, Conservation and Recycling (under review).
  • Bouch, C.J., Wallace, T., Kenny, R. Rogers, C.D.F., Hunt, D.V.L., Lee, S. (2015) A Novel Methodology for the Application of Middle-Out, Model-Based Systems Engineering Techniques for City Waste Management Systems Development. 25th Annual INCOSE International Symposium (IS2015) Seattle, July 13-16, 15 pages
  • Leach, J.M., Bartle, I., Hale, J.D., Bouch, C.J., Boyko, C.T., Lee, S.E., de Laurentiis, V., Cavada, M., Locret-Collet, M., Hunt, D.V.L., Sadler, J.P., Rogers, C.D.F. (2015). Critical infrastructures and sharing: implications for UK centralised infrastructure systems. International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure, Washington D.C., USA, 14-15 September
  • Hunt, D.V.L., Leach, J.M., Lee, S.E., Bouch, C.J., Braithwaite, P.A., Rogers, C.D.F. (2014). Material Flow Analysis (MFA) for Liveable Cities. The 4th World Sustainability Forum 1-30 November 2014 - Conference Proceedings Paper
  • Lee, S.E., Leach, J.M., Hunt, D.V.L., Rogers, C.D.F. (2014). Material Flow Analysis: Outcome Focus (MFA:OF) for Elucidating the Role of Infrastructure in the Development of a Liveable City. ISNGI 2014. Vienna, 30 September – 1 October 2014
  • Lee, S.E., Braithwaite, P.A., Severance, S, Leach, J.M., Rogers, C.D.F. (2014) A Tale of Two Cities: A Study of the Energy Systems in Birmingham, an Industrialised City in central UK and Masdar City, a Developing City in the Middle East. CESARE 2014, Amman, Jordan, 24-27 April
  • Lee, S.E., Leach, J.M., Bouch, C.J., Hunt, D.V.L., Rose, K., Rogers, C.D.F. (2013). A City Design Framework to Elucidate Urban Challenges: Energy Flows of Birmingham. BHPB/Grand Challenge Symposium: Sustainable Resources for Sustainable Cities Symposium. UCL, London 5-6 November 2013
  • Leach, J.M., Lee, S.E., Braithwaite, P.A., Bouch, C.J., Grayson, N., Rogers, C.D.F. (2013). What Makes a City Liveable? Implications for Next-Generation Infrastructure Services. In Infrastructure for a Better Future: A Forum for Vision, Leadership and Action. Wollongong, Australia, 1-4 October 2013. Wollongong: Smart Infrastructure Facility. 397 – 405
  • Lee, S.E. & Levermore, G. (2013) Simulating urban heat island effects with climate change on a Manchester house. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology, 34 (2), 203-221.
  • Smith, C.L., Lindley, S.J., Levermore, G.J., Lee, S.E. A GIS-based decision support tool for urban climate risk analysis and exploration of adaptation options, with respect to urban thermal environments. The seventh International Conference on Urban Climate, 29 June - 3 July 2009, Yokohama, Japan.
  • Lee, S. and Sharples, S. An analysis of the Urban Heat Island of Sheffield- the impact of a changing climate. Proceedings of PLEA 2008, 25th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Dublin, 22-24 October 2008
  • Sharples, S. and Lee, S. E. Climate Change and Building Design, Chapter 19, 263-269, in Mumovic D and Santamouris M (eds.), A Handbook of Sustainable Building Design and Engineering, Earthscan, January 2009, ISBN 978-1-84407-596-6
  • Woodward, F.I., Lomas, M.R. & Lee, S.E. 2001. Predicting the future production and distribution of global terrestrial vegetation. In, Terrestrial Global Productivity. J. Roy, B. Saugier, H. Mooney (eds.). Academic Press.
  • Lee, S.E. Press, M.C., Lee, J.A., Ingold, T. and Kurttila, T. 2000. Regional effects of climate change on reindeer – a case study of the Muotkatunturi region in Finnish Lapland. Polar Research, 19, 99–105.
  • Lee, S.E. Press, M.C., Lee, J.A. 2000. Observed climate variations during the last 100 years in Lapland, northern Finland. International Journal of Climatology, 20, 329–346.
  • Callaghan, T. V., Körner, Ch., Heal, O.W., Lee, S.E., Cornelissen, J.H.C. 1999. Global change in Europe's cold regions: Scenarios for ecosystem responses to global change. In, Global changes and the Barents Sea Region: Proceedings of the First International BASIS Research conference, St. Petersburg, Russia Feb 22–25, 1998, (ed. M. A. Lange, Bartling, B. & Grosfeld, K.), 17–50. Institute for Geophysics, University of Münster, Corrensstrasse 24, D-48149, Münster, Münster.
  • Global Change in Europe’s Cold Regions. 1998, (eds. Heal O. W., Callaghan, T.V., Cornelissen, J.H.C., Körner, Ch. & Lee S.E.). Ecosystems Research Report 27. European Commission, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, Brussels.
  • Lee, S.E. Modelling Interactions between Climate and Global Vegetation in response to Climate Change. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
  • Betts, R.A., Cox, P.M., Lee, S.E. & Woodward, F.I. 1997. Contrasting physiological and structural vegetation feedbacks in climate change simulations. Nature, 387, 796–799.
  • Woodward, F.I., & Lee, S.E. 1995. Global scale forest function and distribution. Forestry 68, 317–325.
  • Woodward, F.I., & Lee, S.E. 1994. Modelling terrestrial vegetation. The Globe 21, 5–6.

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