Dr Natasha Barlow

Dr Natasha Barlow


I am Associate Professor of Quaternary environmental change, and have a strong research emphasis on sea-level change. I have expertise in developing records of past sea level from estuarine deposits along with high-precision dating, to understand the magnitude, timing and driving mechanisms of relative sea-level changes over a range of timescales. My current research particularly focuses on sea level during interglacial periods, where I am aiming to establish reconstructions of sea-level change from temperate latitudes, which will in turn help improve predictions of long-term future coastal response and ice-sheet mass-balance changes. I am currently PI on the European Research Council Starting Grant (€2 million) RISeR project, furthering my research in this area. Recently I have focused on submarine landscapes, conducting research with geophysical datasets and cores to better understand palaeo-landscapes, 3D-stratigraphy and sediment mobility, in particular to support the development of a sustainable offshore wind industry.  I am Co-I on the NERC-funded ‘Carbon storage in intertidal environments’ (C-SIDE) project, and have an interest in how palaeo landscapes act as carbon sinks and their potential for carbon release.

Prior to arriving at Leeds as a tenure-track University Academic Fellow (2016-2018), I was a postdoctoral researcher and fixed-term lecturer at Durham University, where I also completed my PhD on glacial isostastic adjustment and relative sea-level change over the last earthquake cycle in Alaska, and a BSc in Geography.


  • Leader of Leeds Quaternary

Research interests

I have worked on both passive and active coastal margins developing quantitative reconstructions of near-instantaneous to multi-millennial scale sea-level changes, as well as having experience of glacial isostastic adjustment modeling. My wider research interest is the driving mechanisms of change, in particular that associated with ice sheets, climate and large earthquakes, with the aim of understanding future hazards. In addition to my research I am a co-leader of PALSEA, an international working which group brings together observational scientists and ice-sheet, climate, and sea-level modelers in order to better define observational constraints on past sea-level change and improve our understanding of ice-sheet responses to rapid climate change. I also co-founded and lead the cross-School Leeds Quaternary research group. I am a former leader of the QRA Sea-level and coastal change working group, and in 2019 I was awarded the Quaternary Research Association Lewis Penny Medal.

Current research students

  • Luis Rees-Hughes (October 2017 - present). PhD topic: The buried coast: developing novel geophysical techniques to reconstruct coastal landscapes. Lead-supervisor.
  • Oliver Pollard (October 2019 – present). PhD topic: Modelling solid earth processes during the Last Interglacial. Lead-supervisor.
  • Madeleine Timmins (October 2020 – present). PhD topic: Keeping above the waves? The response of coastal freshwater peatlands to sea-level rise. University of Exeter. Co-supervisor.
  • Clifford Richardson (October 2021 – present). PhD topic: Long-term coastal change & strategic coastal infrastructure decisions. Co-supervisor.
  • Weilun Qin (October 2021 – present). PhD topic: Solid Earth contributions to sea-level change. TU Delft. Co-supervisor.
  • Megan Edwards (October 2022 – present).  MGeol topic: Interrogating the Laschamp geomagnetic reversal: identifying the drivers of vegetation changes ~41.5 ka, NW Greece. 
  • Ed Taylor (November 2022 – present). MRes topic: Quaternary environmental change and archeology of the Isle of Skye.  Lead-supervisor

Completed research students

  • Dr Lucy Wheeler (2017-2022). PhD topic: Sea level past, present and future: a chronology for marine and estuarine sediments in the Quaternary. University of York. Co-supervisor.
  • Dr Stephen Eaton (2017-2021). PhD thesis: Landscape response to glacial-interglacial cycles: insights from a southern North Sea offshore wind farm dataset. University of Leeds. Co-supervisor.
  • Dr Andrew Emery (2016-2020). PhD thesis: Glacial and postglacial landscape evolution at Dogger Bank since the Last Glacial Maximum. University of Leeds. Co-supervisor.
  • Frances Procter (2018-2019). MSc thesis: Methods in geoforensics: understanding the transfer and persistence of soils and soil palynomorphs to clothing materials. University of Leeds. Co-supervisor
  • Dr Martin Brader (2011-2015). PhD thesis: Postglacial relative sea-level changes and the deglaciation of northwest Iceland. Durham University. Co-supervisor.
  • Dr Christine Hamilton (2013-2014). MSc thesis: Late Glacial to Holocene relative sea-level change in Assynt, north west Scotland. Durham University. Co-supervisor.

Postdoctoral researchers and research fellows

  • Dr Fumiko Watanabe Nara (2022-present) JSPS-ERC exchange fellow
  • Dr Amy McGuire (2021-present) Research Fellow in Quaternary Palynology
  • Dr Graham Rush (2021-present) Research Fellow in Quaternary Foraminifera 
  • Dr Amir Khorasani (2020) Research Assistant in Offshore Wind Development
  • Dr Víctor Cartelle (2019-2021) Research Fellow in Offshore Geophysics

I welcome interest from potential postgraduate students or research fellows in any area of my research, in particular sea-level change and/or Quaternary environments. Please email me.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Physical Geography, Durham University
  • BSc, Geography, Durham University

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy

Student education

My teaching focuses on Quaternary climate change and landscapes; and methods of palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.

Research groups and institutes

  • Earth Surface Science Institute
  • Institute of Applied Geoscience
  • Palaeo@Leeds

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1081-msc-by-research-in-quaternary-environmental-change-and-archaeology">MSc by Research in Quaternary environmental change and archaeology</a></li>