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Historical Droughts and Impacts – Bath Spa University

Reconstructing and re-evaluating historical droughts and impacts in the British and Irish Isles

Wednesday 28 October, 2020 – Wednesday 28 October, 2020
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Seminar Series 2020-21.

Historical records are fundamental for understanding climate variability and change, extremes of floods and droughts and the management of water resources. Yet precipitation observations typically span 100 – 150 years at most, with considerable uncertainties surrounding earlier records.

In this talk, Conor Murphy will detail work he has undertaken on the development and reconstruction of rainfall records across the British and Irish Isles and the assessment of historical drought from these. Attention will be given to how ongoing work is using documentary sources in the form of newspaper archives to help verify quantitative records, shed light on a forgotten mega-drought in the 18th century and more closely link drought metrics with impacts to examine changing vulnerability to drought over the centuries. The value of these long rainfall records for understanding existing and future vulnerabilities to drought in the water sector will be explored and insights/opportunities from ongoing work highlighted.

About the speaker

Conor Murphy is a Professor at the Department of Geography and the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units(ICARUS), Maynooth University, Ireland. His research interests are interdisciplinary and focus on hydroclimatology, historical climatology and adaptation to climate change.

He currently supervises a team of six PhD and four Post-Doctoral researchers on topics including data rescue, reconstruction of river flows, seasonal hydrological forecasting, climate change impacts and decision making under uncertainty and the health impacts of adaptation interventions. He sits on the Adaptation Committee of the Climate Change Advisory Council and the Royal Irish Academy committee on Climate and Environmental Change. Conor has worked extensively with local authorities and agencies in the water sector in Ireland to help build resilience to the uncertain climate change impacts. He has published extensively, including in Science, Nature, Nature Climate Change and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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