PhD Researcher Profile: Kelly Gunnell

Kelly Gunnell is a King’s Water researcher in the Department of Geography exploring cities, ecosystem services and future climate change.

Kelly is from Johannesburg, South Africa where her early experiences of camping, hiking and kayaking in the African bush and rivers fostered a passion for the biological sciences and conservation. Wanting a mission focused career, Kelly majored in Zoology and Journalism at Rhodes University in South Africa with the idea of promoting conservation issues through science journalism. Her love for the sciences grew and she decided to rather be part of the action than reporting on it. So she went on to do a MSc at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, where she examined the conservation genetics of a threatened native trout species, the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. The best part of this project was hiking up and down the tributaries of the Snake River in Idaho. The worst part (and the bulk of the project) was being stuck in a lab doing genetic analysis.

King's Water researcher Kelly Gunnell in the Drakensberg, South Africa

Continue reading

King’s Water members publish on transboundary water interactions

Three members of King’s Water, Dr Naho Mirumachi, Senior Visiting Fellow Nate Matthews, and PhD candidate Becca Farnum, have just published a paper co-authored with members of the London Water Research Group.

“Transboundary Water Interaction III: Contest and Compliance” comes from the Seventh International Workshop on Hydro-Hegemony: Contesting Hegemony. Mark Zeitoun of the University of East Anglia, lead author, describes the paper as something like “the outcome of a discussion between Antonio Gramsci and Gene Sharpe, as they oberve things on a paddle down the Nile”.

The paper should be of interest to anyone interested in the research, analysis, or resolution of water conflicts, as it

  • highlights just how dynamic transboundary water arrangements (even hegemonic ones) can be, giving hope that inequitable arrangements can change;
  • emphasises that not all change will necessarily lead to more equitable arrangements;
  • explains how transboundary water arrangements change, by classifying contest of or compliance to them (the why comes in the previous and subsequent papers in the series); and
  • sheds light on processes that could be encouraged or discouraged in order to develop conflict-resolution and / or counter-hegemonic strategies.

The paper serves international water conflict resolution efforts by examining the ways that states contest hegemonic transboundary water arrangements. The conceptual framework of dynamic transboundary water interaction that it presents integrates theories about change and counter-hegemony to ascertain coercive, leverage, and liberating mechanisms through which contest and transformation of an arrangement occur. While the mechanisms can be active through sociopolitical processes either of compliance or of contest of the arrangement, most transboundary water interaction is found to contain elements of both. The role of power asymmetry is interpreted through classification of intervention strategies that seek to either influence or challenge the arrangements. Coexisting contest and compliance serve to explain in part the stasis on the Jordan and Ganges rivers (where the non-hegemons have in effect consented to the arrangement), as well as the changes on the Tigris and Mekong rivers, and even more rapid changes on the Amu Darya and Nile rivers (where the non-hegemons have confronted power asymmetry through influence and challenge). The framework also stresses how transboundary water events that may appear isolated are more accurately read within the many sociopolitical processes and arrangements they are shaped by. By clarifying the typically murky dynamics of interstate relations over transboundary waters, the framework exposes a new suite of entry points for hydro-diplomatic initiatives. The authors find that non-hegemonic state and non-state actors alike involved in most transboundary water arrangements are found to both comply and contest with arrangements, what they call co-existing contest and compliance.

The paper is published in International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics and is available for open access download from Springer:


Transforming natural resources governance workshop

On the 28 April 2016, Dr. Naho Mirumachi organised a full day workshop entitled “Transformative natural resources governance: an explorative case of water, food and human wellbeing” which took place at King’s College London.

With the idea that adaptive practices may not suffice to address contemporary and future challenges in the water sector, participants discussed the potential for deliberate and incremental change in water governance systems, and what the bottlenecks to such changes might be. This closed-door workshop brought together academics, researchers from leading think tanks and consultancies, as well as King’s own PhD and MSc water students. The group shared empirical insights and professional experience on whether and how a transformative space for the governance of water, through linkages to food and human wellbeing can be created. Bringing expertise from research undertaken around the world but mostly from Eastern and Southern Africa, discussion focused on regulatory tools and rights that would have the potential to open up or constrain the options for addressing governance. Tensions and implications around considering water as an economic good were also debated. Finally, reflecting on the impacts of change (by whom and for whom) encouraged attendants to identify potential actors and institutions involved in transformative practices.

Participants discuss natural resources governance at a recent King's Water workshop

This workshop was funded by the Transformative Research Fellowship Scheme, under the ESRC Transformative Research programme

Upcoming Event: “Tropical forests, reforestation and water yield”

Next Wednesday, the Environmental Dynamics Research Domain will hold their last seminar of the year. King’s Visiting Researcher Dr Sampurno Bruijnzeel will speak on “Tropical forests, reforestation and water yield”.

Dr Sampurno on fieldworkAdriaan Bruijnzeel (a.k.a. Sampurno) is a Dutch national with >40 years of experience in forest hydrological and related research across the humid tropics. He read geology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) gaining his BSc degree (cum laude) in 1972 followed by an MSc degree (also cum laude) in hydrology and meteorology from the same university in 1976, having taken tropical soil science as additional subject at the University of Amsterdam. That year he moved to Indonesia to conduct field research for his doctoral dissertation on the hydrology and biogeochemistry of man-made forests in Java. Combining the latter with a part-time lecturership at VUA since 1978 teaching courses in, inter alia, soil physics and forest hydrology, he completed his thesis in January 1983. Retaining a part-time position at VUA until 1991 Sampurno conducted several extensive consultancies in the 1980s including studies on erosion and sediment yield in Java, plus commissioned literature reviews on Himalayan hydrology (ICIMOD, 1989) and tropical forest hydrology (UNESCO, 1990) before effectively becoming tenured at VUA in 1991. In 2007 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer and per 2008 to Professor of Land Use and Hydrology from which position he retired per March 2015. During his last years at VUA Sampurno led its Critical Zone Hydrology Group. In 2005 he received the Busk medal from the Royal Geographical Society (UK) for his contributions to biosphere research in the humid tropics and served as guest professor in the Distinguished International Scientist programme of the University of Pennsylvania in spring 2008. Sampurno is a long-term member of several editorial boards, including the Journal of Tropical Ecology, Hydrological Processes (until 2012), Ecohydrology, and Geo_Oekologie  and acted as editor of two landmark books on Forests, Water and People in the Humid Tropics (2005) and Tropical Montane Cloud Forests (2010), both published by Cambridge University Press. He has been a member of IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management since 2008 and scientific advisor to the Commonland Foundation for the regreening of degraded land since 2013. Sampurno is currently working on various publications documenting the global soil and water impacts of tropical soil degradation and reforestation as well as a new monograph on Himalayan ecohydrology.

Dr Bruijnzeel is making a special trip from the Netherlands for this seminar. He will be introducing his work to the Environmental Dynamics group and discussing potential collaborations with King’s Water researchers and others.

A flyer advertising Wednesday's seminar on tropical forest water yield

The event will be held Wednesday 11 May from 5pm in the Pyramid Room (4th Floor of the King’s Building in the Strand Campus). Environmental Dynamic seminars are free and open to the public, but please indicate your attendance online: