Dr Natasha Barlow

Dr Natasha Barlow


I am Associate Professor of Quaternary environmental change, with a strong 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 previous 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. 

Prior to arriving at Leeds as a tenure-track University Academic Fellow (2016-2018), I was a postdoctoral researcher at Durham University, where I also completed my PhD (Glacial isostastic adjustment and relative sea level change over the last earthquake cycle in upper Cook Inlet, Alaska, USA) 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 modelling. 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. We have a growing sub-marine landscapes group at Leeds, conducting research with geophysical datasets and cores to better understand palaeo-landscapes and sediment mobility for offshore infrastructure. 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 Quaternary Research Association Lewis Penny Medal.

Current research students

  • Andrew Emery (October 2016 - present). PhD topic: Constraining Holocene coastal response to marine transgressions to predict future coastal realignment. Co-supervisor.
  • Stephen Eaton (January 2017 - present). PhD topic: Origin, evolution,and mobility of large seabed bedforms, offshore, East Anglia. Co-supervisor.
  • Luis Rees-Hughes (October 2017 - present). PhD topic: The buried coast: developing novel geophysical techniques to reconstruct coastal landscapes. Lead-supervisor.
  • Lucy Wheeler (October 2017 - present). PhD topic: Sea level past, present and future: A chronology for marine and estuarine sediments in the Quaternary. University of York. Co-supervisor.
  • Oliver Pollard (October 2019 – present).  PhD topic: Modelling solid earth processes during the Last Interglacial.  Lead-supervisor.

Completed research students

  • 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
  • Martin Brader (2011-2015). PhD thesis: Postglacial relative sea-level changes and the deglaciation of northwest Iceland. Durham University. Co-supervisor.
  • Christine Hamilton (2013-2014). MSc thesis: Late Glacial to Holocene relative sea-level change in Assynt, north west Scotland. Durham University. Co-supervisor.

I welcome interest from potential postgraduate students in any area of my research, in particuar 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>