School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences


Leo Peskett

Research Interests

How does landscape structure alter the flow pathways of water through landscapes?

My PhD research is looking specifically at how water flow pathways are partitioned between surface runoff and subsurface flow through soils and rocks, and how this is influenced by features of the landscape such as land cover change. This will help provide insights into how whether 'natural' interventions in landscapes such as tree planting or altering river channels through re-meandering, can 'slow the flow' of water through landscapes and help to reduce flooding. In order to do this I'm collecting and analysing hydrometric and geochemical datasets from a set of intensively monitored catchments in Scotland. The hydrometric data allows me to determine how flood waves move through different catchments and the geochemical datasets (stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen) allow me to determine how long it takes water to move through catchments with different properties. I'm also combining geophysical techniques (Electrical Resistivity Tomography) with soil and groundwater monitoring to look at how water travels through hillslopes with different land management systems.


Prior to my PhD I worked for ten years in international environment and development policy. For much of this time I was a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), where I developed and led work on the social and economic implications of international climate change policies on developing countries. Much of my work focussed on the dynamics of land-use change in developing countries and I was involved in processes to develop and analyse international policies aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) with international organisations (e.g. World Bank, UN), with national governments (e.g. Indonesia) in a number of tropical countries, and at the community level. Having originally graduated with a BA(Hons) in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 2002, I decided in 2013/14 to link my work back to the natural sciences, underaking an MSc in Engineering Geology at Imperial College before starting my PhD. This links my interests in the social and economic dynamics of land-use change with my interests in gaining a quantitative insight into some of the physical processes operating within landscapes.