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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

David Nash is Professor of Physical Geography and Deputy Head (Research and Enterprise) in the School of Environment and Technology. He has over 30 years' research experience, with interests in geomorphology and Holocene to recent environmental change in dryland regions of the world.

Professor Nash has authored more than 100 publications, including over 60 articles in international refereed journals and 30 chapters in edited collections. He has edited two books, Geochemical Sediments and Landscapes (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007) with Sue McLaren (University of Leicester), and Quaternary Environmental Change in the Tropics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) with Sarah Metcalfe (University of Nottingham).

Professor Nash's research has been funded by The Leverhulme Trust, Natural Environment Research Council, British Academy, British Society for Geomorphology and The Gilchrist Educational Trust (amongst others). He has successfully supervised six Doctorate (PhD) research degrees and is currently supervising a further four PhD candidates.

In addition to his role at the University of Brighton, he holds an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Department of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He was presented with the Gordon Warwick Award in 2003 by the British Geomorphological Research Group (now the British Society for Geomorphology) for "excellence in geomorphological research as recorded in a named publication or set of publications".

Approach to teaching

My teaching is underpinned by contemporary case study material drawn from the latest published research as well as from my own projects. I try to encourage students to read extensively and take a critical approach to the published and grey literature. This is exemplified in the module 'Climate Change', where students consider the views of climate change sceptics, a really useful approach for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of current climate change arguments. In my final year module, 'Environmental Change in Low Latitudes', students evaluate the various lines of evidence used to reconstruct past environments and then write a critical review of the literature from a tropical or sub-tropical region of their choice.

I am strongly committed to fieldwork, as I believe it helps students contextualise the material they study in lecture sessions. In addition to UK and overseas field courses, I like to make use of the local area for teaching. For example, we visit the cliffs at Peacehaven as part of the module 'Ice Age Earth', where students have the opportunity to examine the impacts of past periglacial processes on chalk landscapes.

Research interests

My research interests are interdisciplinary, being situated at the intersection of geomorphology, climatology, history and archaeology. My current projects fall into two main areas:

Duricrusts in landscape and archaeological contexts

My main area of research concerns the development and environmental significance of silcrete and calcrete duricrusts in contemporary and former dryland areas. The primary goals of this research are to (a) characterise the micromorphology and geochemistry of duricrusts developed in different landscape settings, (b) assess the extent to which duricrusts may be used as indicators of past environments, and (c) apply this fundamental knowledge for use in archaeological contexts. To date, my research has focused upon non-pedogenic silcretes and calcretes in semi-arid areas, including the Kalahari Desert, central Australia and southeast Spain, and has recently been extended to the analysis of silcrete in the UK and aeolianite in Chile.

Reconstructing historical climatic change using documentary sources

My second research focus is the reconstruction of past climate variability through analyses of historical documents, particularly missionary and other colonial sources. Working with collaborators in Europe and southern Africa, I have developed novel methodologies to establish chronologies of climatic variability in the Kalahari Desert, Lesotho, KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Madagascar and western India using these materials. Much of this research has focused on the reconstruction of past wetter and drier periods, but I have also used historical documents to explore past winter conditions and to reconstruct the pathways and impact of tropical cyclones.

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor, University of Sheffield

PhD, University of Sheffield

External positions

Member, PAGES CRIAS (Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies) Working Group

2018 → …

Chair, PAGES Africa 2k Working Group


Honorary Research Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand

2009 → …


  • DT Africa
  • Climate history
  • Historical climatology
  • Documentary evidence
  • Drought histories
  • Rainfall variability
  • Climate and society
  • GB Physical geography
  • Duricrusts
  • Silcrete
  • Calcrete
  • Aeolianite
  • Geomorphology
  • Kalahari Desert
  • Geochemistry
  • Geochemical provenancing
  • Middle Stone Age

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

  • 2 Similar Profiles
silcrete Earth & Environmental Sciences
nineteenth century Earth & Environmental Sciences
desert Earth & Environmental Sciences
calcrete Earth & Environmental Sciences
rainfall Earth & Environmental Sciences
valley Earth & Environmental Sciences
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Projects 2016 2019

Research Output 2000 2018

Climate, conflict and society: Changing responses to weather extremes in nineteenth century Zululand

Klein, J., Nash, D., Pribyl, K., Endfield, G. H. & Hannaford, M. 4 Jan 2018 24, 3, p. 377-401 26 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
nineteenth century

Documentary data and the study of past droughts: A global state of the art

Brázdil, R., Kiss, A., Luterbacher, J., Nash, D. & Řezníčková, L. 11 Dec 2018 14, p. 1915-1960 46 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Rainfall variability over Malawi during the late nineteenth century

Nash, D., Pribyl, K., Endfield, G. H., Klein, J. & Adamson, G. 11 Jan 2018 S1, p. e629-e642 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

nineteenth century
El Nino

The evolution of embryonic creek systems in a recently inundated large open coast managed realignment site

Dale, J., Burgess, H., Burnside, N., Kilkie, P., Nash, D. & Andrew, C. 2 May 2018 1, 1, p. 16-33 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
managed realignment
intertidal environment
Open Access
ocean basin
surface temperature