Professor Daniel Parsons

Professor in Sedimentology/ Director, Energy and Environment Institute

Faculty of Science and Engineering

01482 465343

Under the leadership of Professor Parsons, the Energy and Environment Institute is gathering together multidisciplinary researchers to conduct impactful research on the global challenges presented by environmental change and securing a low-carbon energy supply.

Professor Parsons is an active researcher in areas related to fluvial, estuarine, coastal and deep marine sedimentary environments, exploring responses of these systems to climate and environmental change. He has research interests in anthropogenic disturbances to these systems and determining necessary societal adaptations to mitigate the impact of change – for example understanding how evolving flood risk on large mega-deltas can impact populations and related regional and global food security - through to understanding the impact of plastics, particularly in coastal and marine environments.

Professor Parsons also has research interests in environmental scale modelling, innovative environmental measurement technologies and in areas related to offshore renewable energy.


Research Interests

  • Sedimentary geology

  • Geobiology

  • Flooding and flood risk/resilience

  • Environmental fluid dynamics

  • Renewable energy (wind and tidal)

  • Environmental and climate change

  • Marine plastics: source to sink transport

Find out more

Research groups

Research grants:

  • BBSRC, £808k (53k to Hull), 2017-2019: Food security on Mekong Delta

  • Newton Fund, £842k (356k to Hull), 2017-2020: RAMESES – Flood risk on Mekong Delta

  • ERC, £2.1M, 2017-2022: GEOSTICK – Morphodynamic stickiness

  • NERC, £872k (£404k to Hull), 2012-2017: Monitoring and modelling unsteady bedforms

  • NERC, £794k (£267k to Hull), 2014-2017: Climatic and autogenic controls on the morphodynamics of mega-rivers: modelling sediment flux in the alluvial transfer zone

  • NERC, £1.1M (£232k to Hull), 2014-2017: First detailed synchronous sediment-concentration for submarine canyon channel systems

  • UK NERC, £870k (£103k to Hull), 2014-2017: Modelling how sediment suspension controls the morphology and evolution of sand-bed rivers

  • EU Horizon 2020, £10.8M (£880k to Hull), 2015-2019: HYDRALAB+ Experimentation for the adaptation to climate change


Darby, S.E., Hackney, C.R., Leyland, J., Kummu, M., Lauri, H., Parsons, D.R., Best, J.L., Nicholas A.P., and Aalto, R. (2016) 'Fluvial Sediment Supply to a Mega-Delta Reduced by Shifting Tropical-Cyclone Activity', Nature, 539, 276–279, doi:10.1038/nature19809.

Parsons, D.R. et al, in press, 'The Role of Bio-physical Cohesion on Subaqueous Bedform Size', Geophysical Research Letters, Febuary, 2016.

Malarkey, J., Baas, J.H., Hope, J.A., Aspden, R.J., Parsons, D.R., et al. (2015), 'The Pervasive Role of Biological Cohesion in Bedform Development', Nature Communications, 6, 6257.

Reesink, A.J.H., Van den Berg, J.H., Parsons, D.R., Amsler, M.L., Best, J.L., Hardy, R.J., Orfeo, O., and Szupiany, R.N. (2015), 'Extremes in Dune Preservation: Controls on the Completeness of Fluvial Deposits', Earth-Science Reviews, 150, 652-665.

Schindler, R.J., Parsons, D.R., et al (2015), 'Sticky Stuff: Redefining Bedform Prediction in Modern and Ancient Environments', Geology, 43, 399-402.

For a full list of Dr Parson's publications, please follow this link.


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Dangerous Planet

  • Field Study Spain

  • Sedimentology: Process to Product

Research PhDs

I welcome applications across areas related to energy (wind and tidal), environmental and climate change and sedimentary geology and geobiology.

I am particularly interested in understanding fundamental processes and the time and space scales over which processes operate and interact in controlling system function.

Completed PhDs 

Kevin Woodbridge, Fluvio-Tectonic Interactions

Claire Keevil, Estuarine Sediment Transport Processes and Morphodynamics

Chris Unsworth, Unsteady Bedform Dynamics

Daowei Yin (Leeds), Erosive Bedform Evolution and Dynamics

Tao Wei (Leeds), Gravity Currents Across Breaks in Slope

Leiping Ye, Sediment Transport and Bedforms in Unidirectional Flow Over Cohesive Substrates

Current PhD supervisions 

Laura-Beth Jordan, Tidal Turbine Seabed Interactions

David Jordan, Flow-Vegetation Vnteractions

Xuxu Wu, Wave Induced Sediment Transport and Bedform Generation over Cohesive Substrates

Rita Santos, Fish Migration and Climate Cchange in the Mekong River: an eDNA Approach

Chloe Morris, Coastal Erosion and Estuarine System Interactions

Hao Hu, Bedform Dynamics in Tidal Environments

Robert Houseago, Vegetation and Morphodynamics in Coastal Fringe Environments

Bas Bodewes, The Influence of Cohesivity on Bank Erosion

Cian McGuire, Distinguishing Deep-Water Sedimentary Systems Using Foraminifera

Greg Smith, Pyroclastic Density Currents

Ye Chen, Knickpoint Dynamics in Turbidite Systems

Teaching awards and accolades

Post-Graduate certificate in Higher Education

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • 1999-2004: PhD, University of Sheffield, Flow Separation in River Meander Bends

  • 1996-1999: BSc (Hons), Geography, University of Sheffield

External roles

International and community functions:

  • 2016-present: Natural Environment Research Council, Panel A Chair

  • 2015-present: Science Officer, SSP Section, European Geosciences Union

  • 2015-present: Chair, Research Committee, British Society for Geomorphology

  • 2013-2016: Peer-Review Collage Core Panel Member, NERC, UK

  • 2013-present: Associate Editor, EGU Journal, Earth Surface Dynamics

  • 2013: Chair, International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology (ICFS)

Awards and accolades

  • 2015: The Bigsby Medal from The Geological Society of London - the GSL’s premier mid-career award - bestowed biennially to an individual who has done no more than 25-years full time research

  • 2010: Gordon Warwick Medal from the British Society for Geomorphology - this recognises excellence in geomorphological research by someone within 15 years of their PhD award

  • 2012: Chandler-Misener Award from the International Association for Great Lakes Research

  • 2005: UK Natural Environment Research Council Personal Research Fellowship

Professional highlights

European Research Council Consolidator Award 2017 - £2.4M grant award to examine morphodynamic stickiness