Dr. Murray Scown

Environmental Sciences

Current Research

My research asks how we can map, measure, model, and manage coupled environmental and social systems for the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to 2030 and for sustainability more generally in the long term. I use outputs from the Integrated Assessment Model IMAGE to evaluate possible future pathways for coastal river deltas around the globe, and to determine the associated challenges and trade-offs under future climate and land use change. I also study the disproportionate impacts of extreme events attributable to anthropogenic climate change, and how to effectively deal with the consequential loss and damage that occurs.


Academic Background

I am a geographer with a strong background in the interdisciplinary study of coupled environmental and social systems across a range of scales and through a complex systems lens. My research makes use of the power of Geographic Information Systems, ever evolving approaches to spatial analyses and mapping, and perspectives from the theories of hierarchy, complexity, and systems thinking.


I joined the Water, Climate, and Future Deltas Hub as a post-doc in January, 2019, following post-doc positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and then Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS). At the EPA I conducted hydrogeomorphic characterisation and spatial statistical modelling of nutrients in stream networks of the Ohio River Basin. I also developed an interest in viewing rivers as social-ecological systems, and began exploring the physical integrity of rivers and the well-being of local communities as interacting components of the same system. At LUCSUS I used my background in data analysis and GIS to map and evaluate how EU agriculture and agricultural policies are contributing to achieving the SDGs.


I gained my PhD in Geography from the University of New England, Armidale, Australia, in 2015. I investigated the spatial complexity of floodplain landscapes in Australia, South Africa, and the USA using light detection and ranging (lidar) digital elevation models, and determined external controls on floodplain surface complexity across a range of spatial scales. I also hold an Honours degree in Geography from the University of New England and a Bachelor of Environmental Science from the University of Canberra, Australia.


Selected Publications