Sophie Day

Senior Research Associate

Sophie Day (neé Nicholson-Cole) is a Senior Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, researching adaptation to coastal change in the UK and abroad. Through working closely with coastal managers in Norfolk and Suffolk over many years, Sophie’s research focusses on advancing the practice of adaptive coastal governance: how do we go about collectively, and adaptively managing the interplay of environmental, technical, policy, social, and economic challenges for a resilient future? Sophie’s excellent practitioner and policy network is a valuable outcome of a shared interest in the environmental and socio-economic challenges facing the East coast of England, and elsewhere in the UK and abroad.

Background and current work

Sophie began her research career in the Tyndall Centre in 2000, later completing her PhD at UEA. This qualitatively analysed the impact of visual communication on public engagement with climate change. She went on to work with Tyndall’s Adaptation team, producing a guidebook for planners in small islands for adapting to climate change and an examination of the link between adaptation research and practice in the UK for Defra. She then led the stakeholder engagement strand for the Sustainable Coasts theme. As a result of this work she co-edited a book, which drew together more than 10 years of research on the Tyndall Coastal Simulator (Nicholls, Dawson and Day, 2015 – ‘Broad Scale Coastal Simulation’) and led or co-authored 6 chapters. Fruitful knowledge-exchange with the local and national coastal management community during early years in Tyndall is on-going.

Sophie’s expertise in coastal change and sustainable futures led her to be successful in bidding, planning and delivering the ‘Blue Futures’ NERC innovation project (Blue Opportunities from the Future: knowledge and tools to inform sustainable growth for an integrated terrestrial, coastal and marine zone economy’) at UEA from 2016 with six external partners. She also contributed to IDRC/DfID-funded DECCMA (Deltas, vulnerability & Climate Change: Migration & Adaptation). In 2019 she led the stakeholder engagement for a Natural Capital asset inventory for Norfolk and Suffolk with Lovett et al.

She has also worked in the private sector as a Senior Consultant for Atkins Ltd.’s Environmental Futures team, and led projects including the Lincolnshire Coastal Study. Through her affiliations with Tyndall and the Marine Knowledge Exchange Network (MKEN) at UEA, she is currently delivering consultancy projects – most recently evaluating the process of delivering the UK’s first Sandscaping Scheme at Bacton by North Norfolk District Council. In early 2020 she assessed coastal adaptation needs in Tobago for the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF).


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Johnson, M.T., Bayliss-Brown, G.A., Danino, V., Day, S., et al. (forthcoming) The Marine Knowledge Exchange Network: outcomes from an innovative regional-to-national scale academic-led knowledge-to-impact network and recommendations for future initiatives. Coastal Management. Ocean-KAN special issue.

Tompkins E.L., Vincent, K., Suckall, N., Rahman, R., Ghosh, T., Mensah, A., Anderson, K., Chapman, A., Prati, G., Hutton, C.W., Day, S.A. and Price, V. (2020) Adapting to Change: People and Policies. In: Nicholls R., Adger W., Hutton C., Hanson S. (Eds.) Deltas in the Anthropocene. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Day, S.A., Tolhurst, T.J., Lorenzoni, I., et al. (2018) Blue Opportunities from the future: Knowledge and tools to inform sustainable growth for an integrated terrestrial, coastal and marine zone economy. Marine Knowledge Exchange Network, School of Environmental Sciences, UEA. DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.7649492

Nursey-Bray, M., Nicholls, R., Vince, J., Harvey, N., and Day, S.A. (2017) Public participation, coastal management and climate change adaptation. In D. Green, and J. Payne (Eds.), Marine and Coastal Resource Management: Principles and PracticeAbingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Nicholls, R.J., Dawson, R.J., and Day, S.A. (editors) (2015) Broad Scale Coastal Simulation: New techniques to understand and manage shorelines in the new millennium. AGLO Vol: 49. Springer. ISBN: 978-94-007-5257-3. Comprises 14 chapters, co-author on 5 of these.

Day, S.A., O’Riordan, T., Bryson, J., Frew, P. & Young, R., (2015) Many stakeholders, multiple perspectives: Long-term planning for a future coast. p.299-323 in Broad Scale Coastal Simulation: New Techniques to Understand and Manage Shorelines in the Third Millennium. Springer.

Adger, W.N. and Nicholson-Cole, S.A. (2014) Ethical dimensions of adapting to climate change-imposed risks. p.255-271 in, The Ethics of Global Climate Change. Arnold, D.G. (Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nicholls, R.J., Townend, I., Bradbury, A., Ramsbottom, D. and Day, S.A. (2013) Planning for long-term coastal change: experiences from England and Wales. Ocean Engineering, 71:3-16.

Tompkins, E.L., Adger, W.N., Boyd, E., Nicholson-Cole, S.A., et al. (2010) Observed adaptation to climate change: UK evidence of transition to a well-adapting society. Global Environmental Change, 20(4):627-635. DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.05.001

Milligan, J., O’Riordan, T., Nicholson-Cole, S.A., and Watkinson, A.R. (2009) Nature conservation for future sustainable shorelines: lessons from seeking to involve the public. Land Use Policy, 26: 203-213. DOI:10.1016/j.landusepol.2008.01.004

Nicholson-Cole, S.A., and O’Riordan, T. (2009) Adaptive governance for a changing coastline: science, policy and the public in search of a sustainable future. In: Adger, W.N., Lorenzoni, I. and O’Brien, K. (Eds.) Living with Climate Change: Are there limits to adaptation? Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

O’Neill, S. and Nicholson-Cole, S.A. (2009) Fear won’t do it: promoting positive engagement with climate change through imagery and icons. Science Communication, 3:355-379. DOI: 10.1177/1075547008329201

O’Riordan, T., Nicholson-Cole, S.A., and Milligan, J. (2008) Designing sustainable coastal futures. Twenty First Century Society, 3(2): 145-157.

Lorenzoni, I., Nicholson-Cole, S.A., and Whitmarsh, L. (2007) Barriers perceived to engaging with climate change among the UK public and their policy implications. Global Environmental Change, 17(3-4): 445-459. DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2007.01.004.

Nicholson-Cole, S.A. (2005) Representing climate change futures: a critique on the use of images for visual communication. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 29:255-273. DOI: 10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2004.05.002.

Tompkins, E.L, Nicholson-Cole, S.A., et al. (2005) Surviving climate change in small islands: a guidebook. Funded through the UK Overseas Territories Environment Programme, a joint initiative of the DfID and the FCO. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.


Johnson, M T; Johnson, L J; Bayliss-Brown, G A; Danino, V; Day, S; Dunnett, I; Forster, J; Lorenzoni, I; Kennedy, K; Malin, G; Moore, K; Fuller, P Moore; Walton, M; Tolhurst, T J

The Marine Knowledge Exchange Network: Insights from an Innovative Regional-to-National Scale Academic-Led Knowledge-to-Impact Network and Recommendations for Future Initiatives Journal Article

In: Coastal Management, 48 (4), pp. 308–335, 2020, ISSN: 0892-0753.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX


Nicholls, R J; Dawson, R; Day, S

Broad Scale Coastal Simulation Book

1, Springer Netherlands, 2015, ISSN: 978-94-007-5257-3.

Links | BibTeX