Dr Thomas O'Shea

School of Science, Engineering & Environment

Photo of Dr Thomas O'Shea

Contact Details

7th Floor Maxwell Building
University of Salford
M5 4WT

+44 (0)161 295 6579

Current positions

University Fellow


My early research has been focused on the historical evolution of flood dynamics in Great Britain. Using geo-statistical methodologies applied to 12 cities across the UK, the processes of exposure and vulnerability were illustrated over 2000 years of settlement. The findings of this work are broadly discussed in the Natural Hazards journal article, 'Urban flooding in Britain: An approach to comparing ancient and contemporary flood exposure' (2020).

More recently, my Ph.D. project, supervised by Prof. Paul Bates CBE, FRA & Dr. Jeffrey Neal (University of Bristol School of Geographical Sciences), sought to diversify and develop potential approaches for understanding the interactions between social, geographical and physical elements within the dynamic urban landscapes of our world. The overall contribution of this work being an analytical framework accounting for the complex of factors that combine with physical phenomena, and result in a catastrophe or it's avoidance.

From this, a series of hybrid geographical narratives were formulated to demonstrate the value of multiple incorporated methodologies in testing hypotheses that merge the boundaries of traditional scholarship. These were guided through the Sendai and UN SDG frameworks and conceptually rooted in the multiple related conceptual networks of economics, sociology, philosophy, and ecology. Addressing the pressing questions emergent at the nexus of socio-environmental interaction in an era of perpetual uncertainty and high stakes.

Broadly, my doctoral training at Bristol, funded by Bristol University and the EWS Academic Trust's Exceptional Contribution Award, developed the theoretical and analytical core of a methodology that maps urban flood process by using a multi-disciplinary approach, informed by an agent-based platform combined with the LISFLOOD-FP hydrodynamic model. This has provided scope to discuss the finer responses and interactions of urban populations affected by flood hazards that are assumed under the umbrella terms of vulnerability and risk but not fully understood in their cause and full effect. The preliminary findings of this work can be read in the Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Groundbreaking technologies, big data and innovation for disaster risk modelling and reduction special issue article; 'Testing the impact of direct and indirect flood warnings on population behaviour using an agent-based model' (2020).

Following this, I have worked as a Post Doctoral Research Associate with the University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences, across three separate projects :

- The HyPAc project and the NERC SHEAR Programme on flood inundation modelling, remote sensing and flood model evaluation in the Nzoia basin, Kenya. where the LISFLOOD-FP model was localised to TanDEM-X DEM data and coupled to forecasts from the GloFAS forecasting system to validate the effectiveness of producing risk maps based on such a system.

- FRACTAL+, supporting a well established resilience building programme in Lusaka, Zambia by developing community-based climate change narratives informed with the use of scenario-based, urban flood models, disseminated and developed through a novel learning lab format.

- The FCDO & Red Cross Tropical Cyclone and flood response network, supporting the delivery of hazard bulletins to enhance pre and post event humanitarian aid in affected countries.

The combined findings of this work have been published in the JFRM article entitled; 'Advancing regional scale inundation and exposure forecasting to support decision-making and action, under a changing climate in Africa (2022)'.

Latterly, I have also worked with the Lincoln Centre for Water & Planetary Health on the Adaptive and Resilient Coastal Communities (ARCC) project in Lincolnshire. A landmark vision to engage with key partners in the Environment Agency and local authorities of Lincolnshire to develop adaptation pathways under a changing climate for vulnerable coastal communities in the county up to 2100.

In parallel with this, and as a Research Associate for The University of Bristol School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, my research has sought to support and enhance methods for rapid assimilation of social data into mapping exercises for the dynamics of complex hazard systems and the development of pro-poor modelling metrics as part of the UKRI GCRF Tommorow's Cities project.

Most Recently I have been appointed as one of University of Salford's prestigious University Fellows within the THINKlab alongside Professor Terrence Fernando. In this capacity, I will be working to enhance and expand applications of complex systems modelling for sustainable urban development under a changing climate. This will primarily focus on research skills development and inter-disciplinary collaboration, as well as involving elements of curriculum development, national and international outreach, and strategic policy intervention in a number of differing contexts at the very forefront of research and design.

Areas of Research

· Physical Event Modelling · Disaster Narratives · Computational Sociology · Spatial Geography · Climate Change Modelling · Immersive Environments · Ecosystem Services · Complex Systems · Futurecraft ·

Qualifications and Recognitions

  • Geography

    2017 - 2023
  • Physics

    2013 - 2016
  • Geophysical Hazards

    2011 - 2012
  • Physical Geography

    2007 - 2011