Dr. Colin Thorne Honored by Royal Geographical Society

ESA’s Senior River Scientist, Dr. Colin Thorne is being honored by the Royal Geographical Society with the prestigious Back Award.

An expert in rivers, Colin has been recognized for his outstanding contribution in helping to shape national and international policy on rivers and flood management.

The award is given annually for applied or scientific geographical studies which make an outstanding contribution to the development of national or international public policy – recognizing geographers who’ve had a significant policy impact with their research.

A Leading Expert

Dr. Thorne said: “It is an honor to have won this award, which is named after the noted explorer Admiral Sir George Back. Back’s place in history stems mostly from his expeditions in northern Canada during the19th Century. Coincidentally, I was in Canada when I heard news of this award. Back is well known there – my host (not himself a geographer) recognized the name immediately and lent me his personal copy of ‘Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition: To the Mouth of the Great Fish River, and Along the Shores of the Arctic’, which is Sir George’s personal account of his adventures and achievements.

“George Back’s career was marked by meticulous planning, resourcefulness, acts of personal bravery and quiet understatement concerning his own contributions to the success of the endeavors in which he engaged. Back was a modest man, with much to take pride in. I accept this award in that spirit, though as a modest man with much to be modest about!”

Dr. Thorne is a leading expert in his field and he has made outstanding contributions to the scientific study of rivers that have, in turn, helped shape national and international policy on river and flood risk management.

Managing Flood Severity

A highlight of his career is his input to the Flood Foresight project that moved UK policy towards Integrated Flood Risk Management (IFRM), as implemented by the Floods and Water Management Act (2010). This legislation introduced new systems of governance to clarify responsibilities, support coordinated actions, strengthen the roles of local stakeholders, foster the co-production of knowledge, and work with natural processes.

His personal contributions to on-going, policy-related research are evident from his leadership of the “Rivers and Environment‟ group in Flood Foresight, and leadership roles in the Flood Risk Management Research Consortium, China-UK Flood Study and Blue-Green Cities Research Consortium. He has investigated the contributions that Upland Land-use Management and working with natural processes can make to sustainably managing future increases in flood severity.

Flood Foresight and the UKRC-funded research it prompted has attracted international attention and stimulated projects and policy changes elsewhere, including in the Taihu Basin, China and Queensland, Australia. Building on his fundamental research and strong record of publication, Dr. Thorne has made substantial, innovative contributions to geography that have informed national and international policy.

Nicholas Crane, President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “Colin has made outstanding contributions to the scientific study of rivers that have, in turn, shaped national and international policy on river and flood risk management. I am delighted that he has been awarded the Back Award.”

Colin will receive his award at a ceremony on June 6, 2016.

See the full press release entitled Nottingham flood expert is honoured by Royal Geographical Society on the University of Nottingham website. 

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