My research is situated within the discipline biometeorology, exploring the impacts of climate change on both the natural environment and human populations. My published research can be grouped into three main themes: 1) long term climate and environmental change throughout the late Quaternary reconstructed from palaeoenvironmental proxy records, 2) contemporary climate change over recent decades and 3) the impact of these climatic changes on tourism. This research has involved the quantitative analysis of climate records and palaeoenvironmental proxies from Iran, Lesotho and South Africa, and has involved collaboration with researchers from Iran, the United Kingdom, Sweden and South Africa.
My focus on contemporary climate change over recent decades first includes analyses of synoptic climatological changes. This has included findings of shifts in the frequency and position of tropical cyclones in the south-east Indian Ocean, and modelling temporal and spatial variability in precipitation in the Zagros Mountains of Iran. This research also has a strong focus on the impacts of climate change over recent decades on plant phenology, with relevance to agricultural vulnerability.
The second theme examines climate change over considerably longer time periods, spanning the last ~24 000 years, through the use of proxy records. My research in this domain focuses exclusively on southern Africa, a chronically under-researched region, despite the tremendous palaeoenvironmental significance of the region as the cradle of humankind.
The third theme involves multi-disciplinary research on the impacts of climate change on tourism, and the potential for mitigating associated threats within the tourism industry. The field of climate change and tourism remains largely euro-centric with little application in the Middle East or the African continent. Moreover, there is a significant disjuncture between the perceptions of foreign tourists and local accommodation establishment owners regarding climate change threats to tourism. This has prompted a critical examination of the methodological challenges currently hindering the application of globally accepted approaches to the quantification of climate change threats to tourism in South Africa.