Robert Nicholls


Robert Nicholls is the Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Professor of Climate Adaptation. His research focuses on coastal problems and their solution, with a strong focus on sea-level rise and coastal erosion and flooding, and how communities can adapt to these changes. He has studied the implications of sea-level rise in the UK and in many of the most sensitive regions of the world such as deltaic areas (e.g., Bangladesh) and small islands (the Maldives). A distinctive dimension of his research is taking an integrated assessment approach — assessing the coastal zone as an interacting system. This allows all the different drivers and factors of change to be considered, allow policy-relevant conclusions and support for sustainable development.

Robert is one of the principal developers of the DIVA (Dynamic Interactive Vulnerability Assessment) model, which assesses coastal risks and adaptation at broad scales up to the globe. DIVA has been used extensively for policy analysis such as estimating global coastal protection costs as part of the World Bank funded ‘Beyond the Gap’ 2019 study of infrastructure investment costs for climate change. He continues to use DIVA in international research such as in the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme (including the PROTECT, CoCliCo and REST-COAST Horizon2020 Projects). He also led a global assessment of flood exposure in large port cities with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Robert has also led significant international projects on the integrated assessment of the development of deltas, including climate change, sea-level rise and multiple other key drivers making an integrated assessment approach essential. Much of this recent work is in Bangladesh, the ESPA Deltas and DECCMA Projects, including supporting the Bangladesh government Delta plan 2100.

He also works beyond just coastal problems and leads the OpenCLIM Project which is developing methods to support future national and sub-national spatially-explicit climate risk assessment. This is linked to the national UK Climate Change Risk Assessments which are mandated by the UK Climate Change Act (2008).

Robert has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers, is the co-editor of six books, and many articles and book chapters, including authorship of five assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  He co-led the World Climate Research Programme Sea-Level Rise Grand Challenge to deliver sea-level science to support better coastal impact and adaptation assessment from 2013 to 2022. He is a member of the COPRI Coastal Engineering Research Council who organize the bi-annual International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE). He holds a BSc in Geology and a PhD in Civil Engineering both from the University of Southampton, where he later returned as Professor of Coastal Engineering until joining UEA in 2019.

Robert Nicholls

Research Areas

Email: ro*************@ue*.uk

Postal Address: 

Tyndall Centre, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ