skip to content


Interdisciplinary Research Centre


Keith Richards is Professor of Geography at the University of Cambridge, where he has been since 1984 as Lecturer, Reader and Professor. His current research focuses on river and catchment science, hydrology and water resource management, especially in East and South-East Asia (he has undertaken field research in Thailand, India, and China). He is also interested in science studies, the nature of interdisciplinarity, and methodology in physical geography and the environmental sciences. He has been Vice President of the RGS-IBG, and has been a member of the Peer Review Colleges of both NERC and ESRC and Chair of the UK Research Assessment Exercise panel for Geography and Environmental Studies. His publications number about 200 (journal articles, chapters, and edited and authored books).


Most of my research is conducted within the group dealing with Environmental Processes. It has been fairly wide-ranging, from glacial hydrology to arid zone hydrology via studies of fluvial processes in small Alpine braided river to large Himalayan rivers. The Cambridge-based fluvial group has been very innovative, developing the use of terrain modelling methods, photogrammetry, and computational fluid dynamics in the investigation of hydraulic, sediment transport and channel morphology in complex natural river environments. A particular current interest is the interaction of fluvial, hydrological and ecological processes in floodplain environments, including the roles of channel migration dynamics as a control of floodplain biodiversity, the roughness effects of woody riparian vegetation, and hydrological influences on floodplain ecology.

Current and recent research projects include:

  • modelling fluvial processes at a variety of time and space scales (river reaches to catchments), but increasingly at intermediate time (decadal) and space (reach) scales where model complexity must be reduced while retaining physical realism
  • interactions of fluvial processes and floodplain ecology and the restoration of European floodplain forest ecosystems (more details can be found on the FLOBAR website)
  • regional projects on flood hydrology in northern Thailand; catchment sediment delivery in the Xihuanshui basin, southern Gansu, China; historical mapping of fluvial changes in west Bengal and Bangladesh
  • the Cambridge Arsenic Project - an interdisciplinary analysis of the causes, consequences and remediation of arsenic in groundwater sources

Other research projects relate to the Environment and Society research theme, and include:

  • the role of science and technology in environmental policy
  • the development of environmental scientific methodologies and research agendas
  • institutional structures for water management, with a focus on Europe and China
Professor of Geography
Professor Keith  Richards

Contact Details

Not available for consultancy


Departments and institutes: