Why Chris wants to know where the rain falls
Chris Smith’s postgraduate research is helping the United Nations to understand the complexities of rainfall patterns and their effects on food security and human migration.
A better understanding of complex weather patterns in places subject to drought, such as parts of Africa, will help people to make informed choices about where they settle and the food that they can grow.
Chris, 28, who will be awarded his PhD in geography on Friday (25 January 2013) has already had his work published in the influential journal Nature Climate Change, with his name alongside two senior researchers from the University’s School of Global Studies – Dr Dominic Kniveton and Professor Richard Black.
The paper – ‘Emerging migration flows in a changing climate in dryland Africa’ – looks at how information on changes in rainfall might affect predictions of human migration within and from Burkina Faso, Africa. The data could help government and aid agencies decide how to monitor and support the movement of large numbers of people in response to rainfall changes.
Chris’s main finding was that climate change alone is not an accurate predictor of migration but must be considered alongside other complex contributing factors.
Chris now works as a research consultant for the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn, Germany, where he is analysing migration data from communities in Tanzania for the UNU-EHS and CARE project.
Chris says: “The work is going well. I am about to submit a new paper on modelling migration from communities in Tanzania, work which presents the modelling outcomes of a project called Where The Rain Falls.”