IAS Fellow (April – June 2007)
Professor Summerfield’s primary research interests lie in the macroscale evolution of landscapes. He is Professor of Geomorphology at the University of Edinburgh and has served as head of the Department of Geography from 2000 to 2002. He has held a Royal Society of Edinburgh Support Research Fellowship and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2001. His recent research focus has been on the application of cosmogenic isotopes to quantifying long-term rates of landscape change, and together with Professor Tony Fallick of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre he led a £4.5 million NERC-funded initiative to establish the infrastructure in the UK required for cosmogenic isotope analysis.
With various collaborators from a range of earth science disciplines, his strategy has been to apply the recently developed geochronological techniques of thermochronology and cosmogenic isotope analysis to assess the interaction of internal and surface processes in long-term landscape change, a problem first tackled in a systematic scientific manner by Darwin in his methodologically innovative theory of coral reef formation. His book Global Geomorphology (Longman, 1991) has become the major text in its field world-wide, and he has also edited Geomorphology and Global Tectonics (Wiley, New York, 2000), an interdisciplinary exploration of the interactions between internal tectonic and external surfaces processes in landscape evolution.
Professor Summerfield has previously chaired the International Association of Geomorphologists Working Group on Geomorphology and Global Tectonics and currently serves on the NERC Cosmogenic Isotope Analysis Facility Steering Committee.