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Mike Rivington

Staff picture: Mike Rivington
Information and Computational Sciences
Information and Computational Sciences
Land Use System Modeller
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Mike originally trained and worked as a design engineer before a six year 'career break' in outdoor education and recreation management. He then studied at Edinburgh University gaining a BSc in Ecological Science in 1995 and an MSc in Resource Management in 1999 and following a part-time study whilst employed at the Institute gained his PhD in 2010.

Mike joined the Institute in 1999, working on the Land Allocation Decision Support System (LADSS) project researching land management issues at the farm scale.  From this work his interests developed to follow interdisciplinary research covering social and biophysical sciences. His particular areas of interest are on climate change (from impacts, mitigation and adaptation perspectives) and sustainability, particularly considering the essential role of ecosystem services in enabling societal development. He is based in the Information and Comutational Science Group within the Institute.

Measures of esteem include:

  • Invited panellist for the UN / WMO World Climate Conference – 3, Geneva, 31/8 – 4/9/2009 Session W6: Climate and Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management.
  • Author of UNEP research and policy briefs on Ecosystem Management.
  • Contributor to World Resource Report 2010.
  • Invited author to the 3rd US National Climate Assessment section on agriculture, writing sections on the role of socio-ecological systems in adaptation (see Walthall et al 2012).
  • Task force member UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office / Global Food Security report Extreme weather and resilience of the global food system.
  • Member of the Non-Governmental User Group panel advising on developing the next generation of climate projections for the UK (UKCP18).  

Mike has developed strong links with UNEP, contributing to the development of their Flagship Ecosystems Based Adaptation Project, and Ecosystem Management Policy Brief series. He was author / editor of a White Paper for UNEP on 'Climate information needs for decision making in natural resource management, biodiversity and ecosystem services' presented at the World Climate Conference - 3, Geneva, 2009. He has also written various scoping papers, research and policy briefs for UNEP on the role of ecosystem management in climate change mitigation and adaptation, i.e. for the UNFCCC negotiation meetings for 15th Conference of the Parties meeting in Copenhagen.

Current research interests

Mike has an interdisciplinary research background that enables the integration of different disciplines to address complex socio-ecological system issues. He is currently working on a diverse reange of projects including:

  • Team leader, “Extreme weather and resilience of Scotland’s rural industries” and “Geospatial Risk Analysis”, integrating crop modelling, climate model uncertainty evaluation, downscaling, agro-meteorological indicators of vulnerability, threat and exposure. Projects include: Spatial cereal modelling: simulating barley for the whole of Scotland at the soil series + 5km weather resolution. Agro-meteorological Indicators: mapping multiple indicators. This work is funded by the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) Environment, Agriculture and Food Strategic Research Portfolio to delivery information and evidence to support policy development.
  • Payment for Ecosystem Services project lead for ClimateXChange, developing PES definitions and evaluation of different mechanisms.
  • Integration Work Package lead on an ESPA (DfID, ESRC, NERC) ‘Alternative carbon investments in ecosystems for poverty alleviation’ (ALTER) project (, responsible for integrated social and biophysical sciences.
  • Developing sustainable crop production systems through the use of crop models to explore climate change and management impacts and options for adaptation.
  • Ecosystem Management, Ecosystem Services and Ecosystem Based Adaptation. Understanding complex socio-ecological systems for sustainability through ecosystem management. The role of biodiversity in ecosystem services, conservation and ecosystem restoration.
  • Inter-disciplinary research and the integration of science into policy and practical application; sustainable land management using land-use systems modelling.
  • Multi-scale Social Metabolism analytical frameworks – EU H2020 Moving Towards Adaptive Governance in Complexity: Informing Nexus Security (MAGIC) project considering the food-energy-water nexus.  

Past research

His background includes:

  • Experience of land use systems modelling (UK, Italy, Cameroon, Syria).
  • Evaluation of the quality and suitability of multiple data types for use in land use models and consequences of their use in simulation estimate uncertainty.
  • Evaluation of Regional Climate Model projections and development of bias correction methods (to site specific and 5 km resolutions) to reduce data spatial representation uncertainty to improve the utility of projections in the spatial application of land use simulation models.
  • Risk assessments: using climate models and agro-meteorological indicators as tools to research impacts and options for adaptation in agriculture.
  • Evaluation of land capability for agriculture under climate projections.

Printed from /staff/mike-rivington on 28/02/21 09:57:32 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.