Sarah Johnson

MSci Physical Geography (Loughborough University)

  • Research Student

Sarah joined the Loughborough University Geography Department in 2015 to begin a four-year integrated master’s degree (MSci Physical Geography). During this time, she produced a BSc thesis titled “Impacts of flooding on ambulance-assisted evacuations in Norfolk and Suffolk, and the associated financial impact on the NHS”; and an MSci thesis titled “Financial burden of EMS-assisted evacuations from hurricane-generated storm surges along the U.S. East Coast”. After graduating in 2019 with First Class Honours, Sarah was awarded a CENTA2 NERC Studentship to further her academic research in the form of a PhD.

PhD Topic: To identify global ‘hotspots’ of vulnerable populations, in terms of Ambulance and Fire and Rescue Service accessibility within regulatory timeframes, during flood events of various magnitude under climate change scenarios.

Globally, vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by flooding due to insufficient inclusion into emergency response and climate adaptation policy designs. These individuals are largely reliant on Ambulance and Fire & Rescue Services (primary emergency responders to flooding) for both medical and evacuative assistance. However, emergency services provide alarmingly reduced area and population coverages within regulatory timeframes for emergency incidents during flood events; but how does this compare across the globe and what will the future hold?

To answer these questions, Sarah will conduct a hotspot analysis of global flood hazards and vulnerability in addition to an accessibility analysis of emergency service coverage. The study will utilise Big Geographical and Climate Data, including: a global road network, current and projected global population, and global fluvial and coastal flood risk maps associated with varying probabilities and emission scenarios for the present and 2050.

It is expected that there will be significant geographical and temporal differences in social vulnerability and emergency service provision between countries and regions globally. Although to what extent is currently unknown. Ultimately, the framework of this research can be used by national and international organisations to inform strategic planning of emergency response operations and bring us closer towards resolving the social inequalities of flood hazards.

PGR Supervisors: Rob Wilby, Dapeng Yu and Tom Matthews

  • Johnson, S. and Yu, D. (2020) From flooding to finance: NHS ambulance‐assisted evacuations of care home residents in Norfolk and Suffolk, UK. Journal of Flood Risk Management13(1), p.e12592.
  • Johnson, S., Wilby, R., Yu, D., and Matthews, T. (2021) Global assessment of flood impact on emergency service provision to vulnerable populations under climate change, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1566,