Nottingham flood expert is honoured by Royal Geographical Society

 Colin Thorne
11 May 2016 10:45:35.290

PA 108/16

An expert in rivers from The University of Nottingham has been recognised for his outstanding contribution in helping to shape national and international policy on rivers and flood management.

Professor Colin Thorne, from the School of Geography is to be awarded the prestigious Back Award by the Royal Geographical Society.

The award is given annually for applied or scientific geographical studies which make an outstanding contribution to the development of national or international public policy – recognising geographers who’ve had a significant policy impact with their research.

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A leading expert

Professor Thorne said: “It is an honour to have won this award, which is named after the noted explorer Admiral Sir George Back. Back’s place in history stems mostly from his expeditions in northern Canada during the19th Century. Coincidentally, I was in Canada when I heard news of this award. Back is well known there – my  host (not himself a geographer) recognised the name immediately and lent me his personal copy of ‘Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition: To the Mouth of the Great Fish River, and Along the Shores of the Arctic’, which is Sir George’s personal account of his adventures and achievements.

“George Back’s career was marked by meticulous planning, resourcefulness, acts of personal bravery and quiet understatement concerning his own contributions to the success of the endeavours in which he engaged. Back was a modest man, with much to take pride in. I accept this award in that spirit, though as a modest man with much to be modest about!”

Professor Thorne is a leading expert in his field and he has made outstanding contributions to the scientific study of rivers that have, in turn, helped shape national and international policy on river and flood risk management.

Managing flood severity

A highlight of his career is his input to the Flood Foresight project that moved UK policy towards Integrated Flood Risk Management (IFRM), as implemented by the Floods and Water Management Act (2010). This legislation introduced new systems of governance to clarify responsibilities, support co-ordinated actions, strengthen the roles of local stakeholders, foster the co-production of knowledge, and work with natural processes.

His personal contributions to on-going, policy-related research are evident from his leadership of the “Rivers and Environment‟ group in Flood Foresight, and leadership roles in the Flood Risk Management Research Consortium, China-UK Flood Study and Blue-Green Cities Research Consortium. He has investigated the contributions that Upland Land-use Management and working with natural processes can make to sustainably managing future increases in flood severity.

Flood Foresight and the UKRC-funded research it prompted has attracted international attention and stimulated projects and policy changes elsewhere, including in the Taihu Basin, China and Queensland, Australia. Building on his fundamental research and strong record of publication, Professor Thorne has made substantial, innovative contributions to geography that have informed national and international policy.

Nicholas Crane, President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said:“Colin has made outstanding contributions to the scientific study of rivers that have, in turn, shaped national and international policy on river and flood risk management. I am delighted that he has been awarded the Back Award.”

Professor Thorne will receive his award at a ceremony on June 6 2016.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


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