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Professor Julian Orford

General Profile Information
Staff Name
I started at Queen's as a geography lecturer in 1977, after doing postgraduate research at Salford (MSc) and Reading (PhD), and demonstrating at Keele (where I also did my undergraduate degree in Geography and Sociology). I joined QUB to teach statistical methods, but I now concentrate on teaching coastal environments (210GGY330) both in terms of their physical development and their future use (coastal management). My initial coastal research concentrated on the dynamics and development of gravel beaches and barriers in Britain and eastern Canada, in particular with respect to sea-level changes. In the last decade I have been concerned with the response of a wide range of coastal morphology (barriers, dunes and marshes) to both sea-level change as well as to increased storminess related to climatic change, which has been funded primarily by the EU and NERC. This work has stimulated collaboration with the Environment and Heritage Service (NI), Countryside Council for Wales, DEFRA, Natural England and the Environment Agency over the future of the UK coastline. Collaborative research with other workers in Canada, the USA and other EU countries has led to the development of a wide international network of coastal scientists that has been of value to my graduate students at Belfast. These students have been working on Holocene coastal chronology, developing integrated approaches to CZM methodologies, examining recent coastal storminess and its impacts, Holocene/recent coastal erosion and deposition in open and closed drumlin archipelagos, recent estuary geochemistry and the latest, on the role of overwash in dune evolution. My contemporary interest into spatial and temporal mesoscale approaches to studying coastal development is currently focusing on the role of extreme events in coastal morphology in particular beach/dune interactions , and recently reconsidering the issue of barrier swash alignment as a measure of coastal stability for storm protection. This has practical applications with respect to work undertaken with the Environment Agency and British Energy on future scenarios for the UK coast.

Current Teaching:


Research Keywords
Coastal erosion Sea-level change

Research Statement
Current Research (Environmental Change):

Member: Environmental Change Research Cluster

Other Information

Current Administrative Roles:

School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology (GAP)

 External Grant Funding:

2006 Environment and Heritage Service (NI): "Contemporary Relative Sea-level Change in NI". £24343

TitleBook TitleYear
Morphodynamic Systems | Coastal Gravel Systems Treatise on Geomorphology 2012
Management Challenges of a dynamic geomorphosite: climate change and the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site. Geomorphosites 2009
Reducing the vulnerability of natural coastal systems – A UK perspective. Managing coastal vulnerability. 2007
The Controls on Late-Holocene Coastal Dune Formation on leeside coasts of the British Isles Coasts under Stress III 2005
Gravel barriers Encyclopedia of Coastal Sciences 2005
Coastal environments Geomorphology for Engineers 2005
Porlock Gravel barrier Coastal Geomorphology of Great Britain 2003
Relative Sea-level changes Field Guide to the Coastal Environments of Northern Ireland, 2002
Murlough dunes Field Guide to the Coastal Environments of Northern Ireland 2002
Origin, development, reworking and breakdown of gravel-dominated coastal barriers in Atlantic Canada: future scenarios for the British coast. British Shingles. 2001
TitleJournal NameYear
Extreme events and the morphodynamics of gravel-dominated coastal barriers: strengthening uncertain ground Marine Geology Vol 290 (41-45)  DOI   2011
Temporal patterns and processes of retreat of drumlin coastal cliffs – Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. Geomorphology Vol 94 (153-169)  2008
Factors controlling the retreat of drumlin coastal cliffs in a low energy marine environment – Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. Journal of Coastal Research Vol 23 (285-297)  2007
Environmental controls on coastal dune formation; Skallingen Spit, Denmark. Geomorphology Vol 83 (29-47)  2007
Challenging assumptions of future coastal habitat development around the UK Earth Surface Processes and Landforms Vol 31 (13) (1625-1642)  DOI   2006
Developing constraints on the relative sea-level curve for the north-east of Ireland from the mid-Holocene to the present day. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences Vol 364 (857-866)  2006
Storminess and surges in the South-Western Approaches of the Eastern North Atlantic: the synoptic climatology of recent extreme coastal storms Marine Geology Vol 210 (1-4) (227-246)  DOI 2004
Prograded Holocene beach-ridges with superimposed dunes in north-east Ireland: mechanisms and timescales of fine and coarse beach sediment decoupling and deposition Marine Geology Vol 194(1-2) (47-64)  DOI   2003
Organisational controls, typologies and time scales of paraglacial gravel-dominated coastal systems Geomorphology Vol 48(1-3) (51-85)  DOI   2002
Assessment of temporal changes in coastal and sand dune environments using the log-hyperbolic grain size method Sedimentology Vol 49 (1229-1252)  2002
Between wave- and tide-dominated coasts: the middle ground revisited. Journal of Coastal Research Vol SI 36 (8-15)  2002
Late Holocene (Post 4000 years BP) coastal dune development in Northumberland, northeast England The Holocene Vol 11 (215-231)  2001
Conference Contribution(s)
Gravel-dominated coastal-barrier reorganisation variability as a function of coastal susceptibility and barrier resilience 2011
Influence of changing management regimes on the morphodynamic response, of a mixed gravel and sand barrier beach. 2007
Variation in the organisation of gravel-dominated coastal systems: Evidence from Nova Scotia and Southern England. 2007
Extreme storm effect on gravel-dominated barriers 2003
FUTURECOAST -- The Integration of Knowledge to Assess Future Coastal Evolution at a National Scale 2002