Research Publications

Immersive storytelling and gaming

Skinner, C., and Stanford, K., 2020. Games for Geoscience. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. 1, 188, doi:10.1038/s43017-020-0043-0

In this short article I describe how games can be used to help communicate research.

Skinner, C., 2020. Flash Flood!: A SeriousGeoGame activity combining science festivals, video games, and virtual reality with research data for communicating flood risk and geomorphology. Geoscience Communication. 3, 1-17, doi:10.5194/gc-2019-8

I describe how research I conducted through the Earth Arcade project that showed that the Flash Flood! VR activity helped people take an interest in flooding topics.

Hut. R., Albers, C., Illingworth, S., and Skinner, C., 2019. Taking a Breath of the Wild: are geoscientists more effective than non-geoscientists in determining whether video game world landscapes are realistic? Geoscience Communication. 2, 117-124, doi:10.5194/gc-2-117-2019

We explore how geoscientists, trained to interpret landscapes, are able to distinguish between real environments and those of the videogame, Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Environmental modelling

Skinner, C., Peleg, N., Quinn, N., Coulthard, T., Molnar, P., and Freer, J., 2020. The impact of different rainfall products on landscape modelling simulations. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. doi:10.1002/esp.4894

Rainfall is difficult to measure and there are different ways to do it (each called a product). We show that the choice of rainfall product makes a big difference to amount of landscape change is simulated in our models.

Peleg, N., Skinner, C., Fatichi, S., and Molnar, P., 2020. Temperature effects on the spatial structure of heavy rainfall modify catchment hydro-morphological response. Earth Surface Dynamics. 8, 17-36, doi:10.5194/esurf-2019-44

Climate change will not only change the amount of rainfall to different area, it will change the way it is delivered. Here we show that it is important to simulate the changes in rainstorm structure for understanding future river change and flood risk.

Flack, D. L. A., Skinner, C. J., Harkness-Smith, L., O’Donnell, G., Thompson, R. J., Waller, J. A., Chen, A. S., Moloney, J., Largeron, C., Xia, X., Blenkinsop, S., Champion, A. J., Perks, M. T., Quinn, N., and Speight, L. J., 2019. Recommendations for Improving Integration in National End-to-End Flood Forecasting Systems: An Overview of the FFIR (Flooding from Intense Rainfall) Programme. Water. 11(4),725 doi:10.3390/w11040725

An end-to-end forecasting system is a single framework containing multiple models simulating everything from weather, to river flows, to flood extents. We describe the learning from the NERC-FFIR programme and make recommendations for a successful end-to-end forecasting system.

Skinner, C. J., Coulthard, T. J., Schwanghart, W., Van De Wiel, M. J., and Hancock, G., 2018. Global sensitivity analysis of parameter uncertainty in landscape evolution models, Geoscientific Model Development. 11, 4873-4888

We performed the first global sensitivity test on a landscape evolution model, highlighting the sediment transport law as the largest source of parameter uncertainty. We also describe a suite of new behavioural functions to assess model behaviour changes when using geomorphic models.

Robins, P. E., Lewis, M. J., Freer, J., Cooper, D. M., Skinner, C. J., and Coulthard, T. J., 2018. Improving estuary models by reducing uncertainties associated with river flows. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 207, 63-73

We highlight the importance of using high resolution data (sub-daily) when simulating water levels in estuaries. It was more important in smaller estuaries than larger ones.

Coulthard, T. J., and Skinner, C. J., 2016. The sensitivity of landscape evolution models to spatial and temporal rainfall resolution. Earth Surface Dynamics. 4, 757-771

We show that the way you apply rainfall data to a landscape evolution model can create large differences in the amount of erosion and sediment transport during simulations. We recommend that the highest resolution, both spatial and temporal, is used.

Ramirez, J. A., Lichter, M., Coulthard, T. J., and Skinner C., 2016. Hyper-resolution mapping of regional storm surge and tide flooding: comparison of static and dynamic models. Natural Hazards, 82(1), 571-590

We compare simulated flood extents, predicted from a reduced complexity 2D hydraulic model and a simple bathtub model, to observed extents for storm surge events. The reduced complexity model produced the best results.

Skinner, C. J., Coulthard, T. J., Parsons, D. R., Ramirez, J. A., Mullen, L., and Manson, S., 2015. Simulating tidal and storm surge hydraulics with a simple 2D inertia based model, in the Humber Estuary, UK. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 155, 126-136

We developed a reduced complexity 2D hydraulic model for the Humber Estuary, UK, and showed that it performed well at simulating water levels during normal tidal conditions compared to observed water levels. It also performed well during storm surge conditions and showed promising results for predicting flood inundation extents.

Skinner, C. J., Bellerby, T. J., Greatrex, H., and Grimes, D. I. F., 2015. Hydrological modelling using ensemble satellite rainfall estimates in a sparsely gauged basin: The need for whole-ensemble calibration. Journal of Hydrology, 522, 110-122

Hydrological models contain values that can be tuned (parameters) to make sure simulated values match those observed in reality (calibration). My research assessed different ways to calibrate the model parameters when using ensemble rainfall inputs, finding that models calibrated against a whole ensemble performed best.


Skinner, C. J., 2013. Ensemble-characterisation of satellite rainfall uncertainty and its impacts on the hydrological modelling of a sparsely gauged basin in Western Africa. P.hD Thesis, University of Hull, UK (Externally examined – Prof Paul Bates; Internally examined – Prof Dan Parsons)

In UK we can measure rainfall in high detail using dense networks of weather radar and raingauges. In sub-Saharan Africa these dense networks do not exist so satellite data is often used to fill gaps. However, satellite methods are not as accurate and the uncertainties can be large. My PhD research looked at how these uncertainties transfer to the hydrological models using satellite rainfall data.

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