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Dr Sue Brooks

Reader in Environmental Systems Analytics


  • Sue graduated from the University of Cambridge and then qualified as a school teacher with a PGCE. After several years of secondary school teaching, Sue studied for a PhD at the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol, with the thesis “Evaluating the role of Soil Development in Slope Stability during the Holocene”. Sue began her lecturing career at the University of Oxford, then at the University of Bristol before finally coming to Birkbeck. She has organised several major international conferences in the areas of slope stability modelling and geocomputation and has over 30 publications in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. She has edited a number of books and special journal issues. Sue’s current research focus is on exploring the causes of shoreline retreat under environmental change and has been using state-of-the-art GIS techniques to develop a new approach to modelling future shoreline change.
  • You can read Sue's blog here.

Research interests

  • Sue's research interests include:
    • Soil profile hydrology
    • Climate change
    • Coastal retreat
    • Cliff and slope failure
    • Modelling slope stability


  • Sue has taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol and Birkbeck in the UK, but has also guest lectured at the Universities of Bonn, Germany and Wellington, New Zealand. Her current teaching contributions are in Global Environmental Issues (level 4), Environmental Processes (level 5), Environmental Modelling (level 6) as well as environmental science lectures at level 7. Sue is committed to field teaching and runs residential field courses for undergraduates at Birkbeck, notably to Mallorca and Norfolk.


  • Sue has supervised several PhD students in the areas of slope stability modelling and its links to soil development, and is keen to develop further research in mapping and modelling shoreline change using state-of-the-art field and mapping techniques


  • Journal Articles
    • Brooks, S.M., Spencer, T. McIvor, A. and Moeller, I. (2016) Reconstructing and understanding the impacts of storm surges, Southern North Sea. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3905
    • Spencer, T., Brooks, S.M., Moeller, I., Evans, B. and Tempest, J. (2015) Southern North Sea storm surge event of 5 December 2013: Water levels, waves and coastal impacts. Earth Science Reviews 146, 120-145. DOI: 10.1016/jearscirev.2015.04.002.
    • Spencer,T., Brooks, S.M., Moeller, I. and Evans, B. (2014) Where local matters: impacts of a major North Sea storm surge. Eos 95, 30, 269-70.
    • Spencer, T., Brooks, S.M. and Moeller, I. (2014) Storm surge impact depends on setting. Nature 505, 26
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T.S. (2014) Importance of decadal scale variability in shoreline response: examples from soft rock cliffs, East Anglian coast, UK. Journal of Coastal Conservation: Planning and Management 18, 581–593. (DOI: 10.1007/s11852-013-0279-7).
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T. (2013) Importance of decadal scale variability in shoreline response: examples from soft rock cliffs, East Anglian coast, UK. Journal of Coastal Conservation: Planning and Management 17(2) DOI 10.1007/s11852-013-0279-7
    • Spencer, T. and Brooks, S.M. (2012) Methodologies for measuring and modelling coastal habitat change: saline lagoons of the Suffolk coast, eastern England. Hydrobiologia, 693, 99 – 115. DOI: 10.1007/s10750-012-1089-x.
    • Friess, D., Spencer, T., Smith, G., Moller, I., Brooks, S.M. and Thompson, A. (2012) Remote sensing of geomorphological and ecological change in response to saltmarsh managed realignment, The Wash. UK. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 18, 57 - 68. DOI: 10.1016/j.jag.2012.01.016.
    • Brooks, S.M., Spencer, T., and Boreham, S. (2012) Mechanisms for cliff retreat in rapidly receding soft-rock cliffs: marine and terrestrial influences, Suffolk coast, U.K. Geomorphology, 153 – 154, 48 – 60. DOI: 10.0106/jgeomorph.2012.02.007.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T. (2012) Shoreline retreat and sediment release in response to accelerating sea level rise: measuring and modelling cliffline dynamics on the Suffolk Coast, UK. Global and Planetary Change 80 - 81, 165 – 179. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2011.10.008.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T. (2010) Temporal and spatial variations in recession rates and sediment release from soft rock cliffs, Suffolk Coast, UK. Geomorphology 14, 26-41. DOI:10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.08.005.
    • Brooks, S.M., Glade, T., Crozier, M.J. and Anderson, M.G. (2004) Towards establishing climatic thresholds for slope instability: use of a physically-based combined soil hydrology-slope stability model. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 161, 881 – 905. DOI: 10.1007/s00024-003-2477-y.
    • Lloyd, D.M., Anderson M.G.,Renaud J-P., Wilkinson P. and Brooks, S.M. (2002) On the need to determine appropriate domains for hydrology slope stability models Advances in Environmental Research, 8, 379 – 86. DOI:10.1016/S1093-0191(02)00120-X.
    • Brooks, S.M., Crozier, M.J., Preston, N.J. and Anderson, M.G. (2002) Regolith stripping and the control of shallow translational hillslope failure : application of a 2-dimensional coupled soil hydrology-slope stability model, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Geomorphology, 45, 165-179. doi:10.1016/S0169-555X(01)00153-2.
    • Brooks, S.M. (2002) Slopes and slope processes: a review of developments since 1990. Progress in Physical Geography, 27(1), 130-141. DOI:10.1191/0309133303pp362pr.
    • Wilkinson, P., Brooks, S.M. and Anderson, M.G. (2000) Design and Application of an automated non-circular slip surface search within a combined hydrology and stability model (CHASM). Hydrological Processes, 14(11-12), 2003-2017. DOI:10.1002/1099-1085(20000815/30).
    • Brooks, S.M. and McDonnell, R.A. (2000) Research Advances in geocomputation for hydrological and geomorphological modelling towards the twenty-first century. Hydrological Processes, 14 (11-12), 1899-1907. DOI: 10.1002/1099-1085(20000815/30).
    • Brooks, S.M., Anderson, M.G., Ennion, T. and Wilkinson, P. (1999) Modelling mass movement in the Holocene: research directions for refinement of vegetation inclusion. In Hergarten, S. and Neugebauer, H.J. (eds) Process Modelling and Landform Evolution. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences, 78, Springer, Berlin, pp205-230.  ISBN: 978-3540649328.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Anderson, M.G. (1998) On the status opportunities for Physical Process Modelling in Geomorphology. In Geocomputation: a primer, Longely et al., (eds), Wiley, Chichester, pp193-230.
    • Brooks, S.M. (1997) Modelling the role of climatic change in landslide initiation for different soils in the Holocene. European Palaeoclimate and Man 12 Special Issue, 207-222.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T. (1997) Modification of soil hydrology following logging. Journal of Environmental Management, 49, 297-310. DOI:10.1006/jema.1996.0091.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Whitaker, F.F. (1997) Vadose zone hydrological evolution of carbonate sands. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 22, 45-58. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(199701).
    • Richards, K.S., Brooks, S.M., Clifford, N.J., Harris, T. and Lane, S. (1997) Realism in Geomorphology. In Process and form in Geomorphology, Stoddart, D.R. (ed), Routledge, London. ISBN: 978-0415105279.
    • Anderson, MG and Brooks, S.M. (1996) Hillslope Processes : Research Prospects. Chapter 1 in Advances in Hillslope Processes, Anderson, MG and Brooks, SM (eds), Wiley, Chichester.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Collison, A.J.C. (1996) The significance of soil profile differentaition to hydrological response and slope instability : a modelling approach. Chapter 21 in Advances in Hillslope Processes, Anderson, M.G. and Brooks, S.M. (eds), Wiley, Chichester.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T. (1995) Vegetation modification of rainfall characteristics: implications for rainfall erosivity following logging in Sabah, eastern Malaysia. Journal of Tropical Forest Science, 7, 435-446.
    • Brooks, S.M., Collison, A.J.C. and Anderson, M.G. (1995) Modelling the role of climate, vegetation and pedogenesis in shallow translational hillslope failure. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 20, 231-242.
    • Brooks, S.M., Anderson, M.G. and Crabtree, K. (1995) The significance of fragipans to early-Holocene slope failure: application of physically-based models. The Holocene, 5, 293-303.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Anderson , M.G. (1995) The determination of suction-controlled slope stability in humid temperate environments. Geografiska Annaler, 77A, 11-22.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Richards, K.S. (1994) The significance of rainstorm variations to shallow translational hillslope failure. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 19, 85-94.
    • Brooks, S.M., Richards, K.S. and Nussbaum, R. (1994) Simulator experiments of the varied consequences of rain forest logging for runoff and erosion. Geografiska Annaler, 76A, 143-152.
    • Brooks, S.M., Richards, K.S. and Anderson, M.G. (1993a) Modelling the sensitivity of slope stability to mass movement during the Holocene. In Landscape Sensitivity. Thomas, D. and Allison, R.J. (eds.), Wiley, Chichester.
    • Brooks, S.M., Richards, K.S. and Anderson, M.G. (1993b) Approaches to the study of hillslope development due to mass movement. Progress in Physical Geography, 17(1), 32-49.
    • Brooks, S.M., Richards, K.S. and Spencer, T. (1993) Application of a soil loss model to logging in humid tropical catchments. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geomorphology, 14, 15-27.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Richards, K.S. (1993) Establishing the role of pedogenesis in changing soil hydraulic properties. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 18, 573-578.
  • Books
    • Brooks, S.M. (2010) Coastal Changes in Historic Times – linking offshore bathymetric changes and cliff recession, Suffolk. Marine Estate Research Report, The Crown Estate, 92pp. ISBN: 978-1-906410-21-6.
    • Brooks, S.M.(2002) Study Guide to Physical Geography, University of London, 68pp.
    • Brooks, S.M. and McDonnell, R.A. (2000) Geocomputation in Hydrology and Geomorphology, Hydrological Processes Special Issue, Wiley, Chichester.
    • Longley, P.A., Brooks, S.M., Macmillan, W. and McDonnell, R. (eds.) (1998) Geocomputation: a primer. Wiley, Chichester. ISBN: 978-0471985761.
    • Anderson, M.G. and Brooks, S.M. (1996a) Advances in Hillslope Processes. Volume 1. Wiley, Chichester. 683pp. ISBN: 978-0-471-96774-3.
    • Anderson, M.G. and Brooks, S.M. (1996b) Advances in Hillslope Processes. Volume 2. Wiley, Chichester. 623pp. ISBN: 978-0-471-96774-3.
    • Brooks, S.M. (1995) The Geography of the Earth. Award, London. ISBN: 1-899762-04-3.
    • Brooks, S.M. (1993) Atlas de la Terre. Larousse 64pp
  • Recent Conference Papers
    • Brooks, S.M. (2014) Methodologies for estimating sediment output from soft rock cliffs under rising sea level. 19th International Sedimentological Congress, Geneva, August 2014.
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T. (2013) Sea Level Variability, Shoreline Response and Global Environmental Change: Observations from Eastern England. 8th International Association of Geomorphologists Conference, Paris, August 2013
    • Brooks, S.M. and Spencer, T.S. (2012) Evaluating the complex response of rapidly-retreating soft rock cliffs to global warming: decadal scale variability in the cliffs of the East Anglian coast. 32nd International Geographical Congress, Cologne, August 2012.
    • Spencer, T., Brooks, S.M., Moller, I., Reed, D.J. and Turner, R. (2012) Monitoring Salt Marsh Margin Dynamics: Lessons from the Dengie Peninsula, Eastern England. 32nd International Geographical Congress, Cologne, August 2012.
    • Brooks, S.M. (2011) Invited lecture at the Dunwich Museum, Coastal Change, changing environments and human responses, Sponsored by The National Lottery.
    • Brooks, S.M. (2010) Cliff recession in historic times: rates, mechanisms and future implications. Invited lecture at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
    • Brooks, S.M., Spencer. T., Friess, D. and Chapman, N. (2009) Assessing rates and mechanisms of rapid coastal retreat along the coastline of Suffolk, UK. IGU Conference, Melbourne, July 2009.


Contact details

+ 44 (0)20 3073 8373