Liverpool Skylilne

Natural Sciences and Psychology

Dr Jason Kirby

Dr Jason Kirby

Telephone: 0151 231 2410


Dr Jason Kirby is the Subject Head for Geography and Environmental Sciences.

My research Interests include:
Holocene sea-level changes and coastal evolution
Contemporary coastal change and management
Quaternary micropalaeontology (pollen, diatoms and foraminifera)
Vegetation history and palaeoecology
Peatlands and climate change

My research focuses on reconstructing past environmental change and this falls within three main strands:

Holocene sea-level change and coastal evolution.
My main aims are to investigate the causes and effects of sea-level changes on a variety of temporal and spatial scales, utilising intertidal sediment records. I have recently been using saltmarsh sediment as a means to explore past relative sea-level changes in the last few thousand years. This involves the analysis of diatoms and foraminifera preserved in the sediment that can be quantitatively related to a former sea level. When combined with a good chronology (typically derived from radiocarbon analyses and other geochemical markers) a high-resolution sea-level record can be derived for the past few thousand years or so. I am also interested in longer-term relative sea-level records, and the influence of former ice sheets on sea-level rise and vertical land movement (induced by former ice and ocean loading on the Earth’s surface). I have also worked on coastal evolution and floodplain development using litho- and biostratigraphic techniques in back barrier coastal environments (e.g. Dungeness and Romney Marsh) and inner estuary perimarine settings (e.g. Humber estuary).

Vegetation history and palaeoecology.
My interests here broadly involve using pollen to investigate how groundwater level changes are expressed in vegetation successional pathways, and how these relate to sea-level changes. I have studied fen carr peat as a means to reconstruct Holocene vegetation history, non-analogue habitats and human impact.

Peatlands and palaeoclimate.
This research area seeks to reconstruct a bog-surface wetness history for sites in Cheshire and Merseyside to establish a climate record for the past 4000 years in NW England. Sites with uncut peat records are rare, particularly in the UK where there is a long history of intensive land-use, human occupation and urbanisation. This project provides an opportunity to investigate climate change and historical landscape change in an area with a well-known industrial past.

I am also interested in the functioning of contemporary coastal systems, particularly the response of intertidal foreshores to waves, tides and storm events, and the management of coastal environments.

I am module leader for 6103NATSCI Envionmental Change and contribute to a range of other undergraduate modules in the area of physical geography and environmental science.


1999, University of Hull, United Kingdom, PhD 'Holocene floodplain vegetation dynamics and sea-level change in the lower Aire valley, Yorkshire'
1994, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, BSc (Hons) Geography

Academic appointments

Subject Head - Geography & Environmental Science, School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, 2014 - present
Programme Leader - Geography, School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, 2007 - 2013
Lecturer, Biological & Earth Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, 2004 - 2007
Post Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, 2000 - 2002


Journal article


Metcalfe SE, Leng MJ, Kirby JR, Huddart D, Vane CH, Gonzalez S. 2016. Early- Mid Pleistocene environments in the Valsequillo Basin, Central Mexico: a reassessment JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE,

Stringer C, Kirby JR, Wilkinson DM. 2014. Combining palaeoecological and historical approaches to investigating post-medieval land use change at Sandford Mire, Cumbria, North West England, UK Journal of Wetland Archaeology, 14 :74-90 >DOI

Mills H, Kirby JR, Holgate, S , Plater AJ. 2013. The distribution of contemporary saltmarsh foraminifera in a macrotidal estuary: an assessment of their viability for sea-level studies Journal of Ecosystem and Ecography, 3 >DOI

Valentine J, Davis SR, Kirby JR, Wilkinson DM. 2013. The Use of Testate Amoebae in Monitoring Peatland Restoration Management: Case Studies from North West England and Ireland ACTA PROTOZOOLOGICA, 52 :129-145 >DOI >Link

Valentine J, Murphy D, Kirby JR, Clare J, Wilkinson DM. 2013. Postglacial environmental history of the West Cumbrian coastal plain: New palaeoecological data from Gutterby. Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archeological Society, 103 :5-15

Edwards KJ, Schofield JE, Kirby JR, Cook GT. 2011. Problematic but promising ponds? Palaeoenvironmental evidence from the Norse Eastern Settlement of Greenland JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE, 26 :854-865 >DOI >Link

Kirby JR, Wilkinson JP. 2011. Sea-level change: from satellites to saltmarshes Teaching Earth Sciences, 35 :41-45

Bennett M, Gonzalez S, Huddart D, Kirby JR, Toole E. 2010. Probable Neolithic footprints preserved in inter-tidal peat at Kenfig, South Wales (UK) Proceedings of the Geologists Association, 121 :66-76 >DOI

Kirby JR, Kirby R. 2008. Medium timescale stability of tidal mudflats in Bridgwater Bay, Bristol Channel, UK: Influence of tides, waves and climate CONTINENTAL SHELF RESEARCH, 28 :2615-2629 >DOI >Link

Plater AJ, Kirby JR. 2006. The potential for perimarine wetlands as an ecohydrological and phytotechnological management tool in the Guadiana Estuary, Portugal. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 70 :98-108 >DOI

Szkornik K, Kirby JR, Gehrels WR. 2006. Salt-marsh distributions in Ho Bugt (western Denmark) and the development of a transfer function for reconstructing Holocene sea-level changes Marine Geology, 235 :137-150

Gehrels WR, Marshall WA, Gehrels MJ, Larsen G, Kirby JR, Eiriksson J, Heinemeier J, Shimmield T. 2006. Rapid sea-level rise in the North Atlantic Ocean since the first half of the nineteenth century HOLOCENE, 16 :949-965 >DOI >Link

Gehrels WR, Szkornik K, Bartholdy J, Kirby JR, Bradley SL, Marshall WA, Heinemeier J, Pedersen JBT. 2006. Late Holocene sea-level changes and isostasy in western Denmark QUATERNARY RESEARCH, 66 :288-302 >DOI >Link

Gehrels WR, Kirby JR, Prokoph A, Newnham RM, Achterberg EP, Evans EH, Black S, Scott DB. 2005. Onset of rapid sea-level rise in the western Atlantic Ocean. Quaternary Science Reviews, 24 :2083-2100

Gehrels WR, Milne GA, Kirby JR, Patterson RT, Belknap DF. 2004. Late Holocene sea-level changes and isostatic crustal movements in Atlantic Canada QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL, 120 :79-89 >DOI >Link

Lillie, M , Page, N , Kirby JR, Grifiths, H . 2003. Neolithic-Bronze Age landscape development at Machynys, Llanelli. Archaeology in Wales, 43 :45-57

Evans JR, Kirby JR, Long AJ. 2001. The litho-and biostratigraphy of a late Holocene tidal channel in Romney Marsh, southern England Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 112 :111-130 >DOI

Lloyd JM, Shennan I, Kirby JR, Rutherford MM. 1999. Holocene relative sea-level changes in the inner Solway Firth QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL, 60 :83-105 >DOI >Link


Long AJ, Innes JB, Kirby JR, Lloyd JM, Rutherford MM, Shennan I, Tooley MJ. 1998. Holocene sea-level change and coastal evolution in the Humber estuary, eastern England: an assessment of rapid coastal change HOLOCENE, 8 :229-247 >DOI >Link

Van Asperen EN, Kirby JR, Hunt CO. The effect of preparation methods on dung fungal spores: Implications for recognition of megafaunal populations REVIEW OF PALAEOBOTANY AND PALYNOLOGY,


Plater AJ, Kirby JR, Boyle JR, Shaw TA, Mills H. 2015. Loss On Ignition and Organic content Shennan I, Long AJ, Horton BP. Handbook of Sea-Level Research

Plater AJ, Kirby JR. 2012. Sea-Level Change and Coastal Geomorphic Response Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science 3 :39-72 9780080878850 >DOI

Kirby JR, Clarke D, Shaw TA, Toole E. 2010. The Mid-Late Holocene Evolution of Southern Walland Marsh and the Origin of the ‘Midley Sand’ Waller MP, Edwards E, Barber L. Romney Marsh: Persistence and Change in a Coastal Lowland :23-51 Romney Marsh Research Trust. Sevenoaks 978-09566575-0-3

Pratolongo P, Kirby JR, Plater AJ, Brinson MM. 2009. Temperate Coastal Wetlands: Morphology, Sediment Processes and Plant Communities. Perillo GME, Wolanski E, Cahoon DR, Brinson MM. Coastal wetlands, An Integrated Ecosystem Approach. Elsevier Science Ltd 9780444531032

Evans JR, Kirby JR. 2002. Reconstructing Late Holocene intertidal environments and channel networks: a review of the role of benthic foraminifera biostratigraphy on Romney Marsh, Southern England and potential for future research. Long AJ, Hipkin S, Clarke H. Romney Marsh: Coastal and Landscape Change through the Ages Monograph 56 :75-83 Oxford University School of Archaeology

Waller MP, Kirby JR. 2002. Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene environmental change in the Romney Marsh Region: New evidence from Tilling Green, Rye. Long AJ, Hipkin S, Clarke H. Romney Marsh: Coastal and Landscape Change through the Ages Monograph 56 :22-39 Oxford University School of Archaeology

Kirby JR. 2001. Regional Late-Quaternary marine and perimarine records Bateman MD, Buckland P, Frederick CD, Whitehouse N. The Quaternary of Eastern Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire: Field Guide :25-34 Quaternary Research Association. London

Kirby JR, Gearey BR. 2001. Pattern and process of Holocene vegetation and wetland development in the Humber lowlands. Atherden M. Wetlands in the Landscape: Archaeology, Conservation, Heritage :41-67 PLACE Research Centre. York

Van de Noort R, Lillie M, Taylor DM, Kirby JR. 1998. The Roman Period landscape at Scaftworth Van de Noort R, Ellis S. Wetland Heritage of the Humberhead Levels :409-428 Humber Wetlands Project. Hull

Pratolongo P, Leonardi N, Kirby JR, Plater AJ. Temperate Coastal Wetlands: Morphology, Sediment Processes and Plant Communities. Perillo GME, Wolanski E, Cahoon D. Coastal Wetlands, An Integrated Ecosystem Approach. Second Edition. Elsevier


Polrot A, Kirby JR, Birkett J, Jenkinson I, Sharples G. Steps towards the sustainable management of sediment in ports and harbours Heidkamp CP, Morrissey J.

Engagement & Impact

Conference organisation:

Sea Level and Coastal Change QRA Research Group, Organiser,

Editorial boards:

Acta Adriatica, Editorial Board Member,

External PGR examinations performed:

Durham University, MPhil, Late Glacial to Holocene relative sea-level change in Assynt, north west Scotland

Membership of professional bodies:

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Royal Geographical Society

Member, Quaternary Research Association

Public engagement:

LJMU, Mini-Big Bang STEM Event, Carbon cycle workshop, KS3 school children, 120, Workshop facilitator

Research Grants Awarded:

Quaternary Research Association, Identifying grazing impacts on the palaeoecological record II, Helen Shaw, Grant value (£): 1,050, Duration of research project: 6 months

Quaternary Research Association, Identifying grazing impacts on the palaeoecological record, Eline van Asperen, Grant value (£): 945, Duration of research project: 6 months

NERC, Meso-scale barrier estuary behaviour in response to sea-level rise, storms and sediment supply, Grant value (£): 6,150, Duration of research project: 3 years

SEMASO, Marine bioremediation and carbon reduction using Active Nautical Depth, Grant value (£): 17,400, Duration of research project: 3 years

Natural England, Designing site specific mitigation measures for Dungeness SSSI, Grant value (£): 7,500, Duration of research project: 6 months

Rugby Portobello Trust, St Marys Bay Geomorphological Survey, Grant value (£): 9,400

NERC, Holocene palaeoclimate and vegetation history of north-west England, Professor Richard Chiverrell, Univeristy of Liverpool, Grant value (£): 4,640, Duration of research project: 3 years

MOD/Landmarc Services, Geomorphological research strategy for Lydd Ranges, Dungeness, Kent., Grant value (£): 6,500, Duration of research project: 6 months

Teaching qualification:

Fellow Higher Education Academy