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Prof Michael Meadows

 Professor Mike Meadows

    Room: 4.12
    Tel: 021- 6502873

    BSc (Hons) (Sussex), PhD (Cambridge)

Academic Profile

Mike Meadows is a Physical Geographer who has been at the University of Cape Town since 1983. Originally hailing from Liverpool, UK, Mike obtained his BSc Honours at the University of Sussex and his PhD the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge.

Promoted to Professor in 2003, he was been Head of Department from 2001 to 2017. He fulfils a wide variety of administrative roles within the Department, Faculty and in the University as a whole, and is the on-site Director for a semester study abroad programme run in collaboration with three US Colleges (Macalester, Pomona, Swarthmore). He is also Distinguished Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences at East China Normal University.

Mike's external portfolio of responsibilities include being the Secretary-General and Treasurer of the International Geographical Union (from 2010-2018), but he is also Past President of the Society of South African Geographers (of which he is a Fellow) and of the Southern African Quaternary Association (SASQUA). He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, the Royal Geographical Society, the University of Cape Town and the African Academy of Sciences, and is on the editorial board of several high profile international journals.

Current Teaching:

Mike Meadows teaches the Geomorphology and Biogeography modules on the first year course, GEO 1009F: Introduction to Earth and Environmental Sciences, convenes and teaches half of the third year course EGS 3023F Anthropocene Environments in Perspective. His postgraduate teaching encompasses EGS 4034F Globalisation and the Environment and EGS 4027F Quaternary Environments.

Research Interests

Mike Meadows is an NRF B-rated scientist and has a broad range of research activities under the umbrella Physical Geography. He is currently working with a variety of international collaborators from Universities in the United Kingdom (Oxford), France (Montpellier II), Germany (Jena) and China (East China Normal Uiversity). Key research interests focus on the reconstruction of Quaternary palaeoenvironments in southern Africa using a range of proxies and sediment types including dassie (Hyrax) middens and wetlands. He has explored issues around environmental change and human activity in places as far afield as Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and there is an active group of Honours, Masters and PhD students working under his supervision



Recent Publications (since 2016)

Zhao, Q, Dupont,L, Meadows MM and Wefer, G 2016 Pollen distribution in the surface sediments of the mudbelt along the west coast of South Africa.  Quaternary International 404B: 44-56.

Quick, L, Meadows, ME, Bateman, MD, Kirsten, KL, Mäusbacher, R, Haberzettl, T and Chase,BM 2016: Vegetation and climate dynamics during the last glacial period in the fynbos-afrotemperate forest ecotone, southern Cape, South Africa. Quaternary International 404B: 136-149.

Meadows, ME, Vandermotten, C and Dietz, A 2016: A perspective on problems and prospects for academic publishing in Geography.  Geo: Geography and Environment 3(1): 1-7.

Wuendsch, M, Haberzettl, T, Kirsten, KL, Kasper, T, Zabel, M, Dietze, E, Baade, J, Daut, G, Meschner, S, Meadows, ME and Mausbacher, R.  2016: Sea level and climate change at the southern Cape coast, South Africa, during the past 4.2 kyr.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 446: 295-307.

Wuendsch, M, Haberzettl T, Meadows ME, Kirsten KL, Kasper T, Baade, J, Daut G, Stoner JS and Mausbacher, R.  2016: The impact of changing reservoir effects on the 14C chronology of a Holocene sediment record from South Africa.  Quaternary Geochronology 36: 148-160.

Meadows ME and Finch J 2016: The history and development of Quaternary Science in South Africa.  South African Geographical Journal 98: 472- 482.

Kirsten, KL and Meadows, ME 2016: Late Holocene palaeolimnological and climate dynamics at Princessvlei, South Africa: evidence from diatoms.  The Holocene 26: 1371-1381.

Zhao, Q, Dupont,L, Schefuss, E, Hahn, A, Meadows ME and Wefer, G 2016: Holocene vegetation and climate variability between winter and Summer rainfall zones of South Africa.  The Holocene, 26: 843-857.

Meadows ME and Quick LJ Terrestrial ecosystem changes. 2016: In: Knight J (ed.) Quaternary Environmental Change in Southern Africa: Physical and Human Dimensions.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 269-283.  ISBN 978-1-107-05579-7

Meadows ME and Lin JC (eds) 2016: Geomorphology and Society. Springer, Berlin.  277pp, ISBN 978-4-431-56000-5.

Meadows ME and Lin JC 2016: Geomorphology and society: an introduction.  In: Meadows ME and Lin JC (eds) Geomorphology and Society. Springer, Berlin, pp 1-6. ISBN 978-4-431-56000-5

Meadows ME 2016: Geomorphology in the Anthropocene: perspectives from the past, pointers for the future?  In: Meadows ME and Lin JC (eds) Geomorphology and Society. Springer, Berlin, pp 7-22. ISBN 978-4-431-56000-5

Meadows ME and Fuggle RF 2016: Geography and environmental science on the slopes of Devil’s Peak.  In: Visser, G, Donaldson, R and Seethal, C (eds). The Origin and Growth of Geography as a Discipline at South African Universities.  Stellenbosch: Sun Press, pp 117-142.  ISBN: ISBN 978-1-928357-25-4

Bamutaze, Y., Wanyama, J, Opedes H, Diekkrueger B and Meadows ME. 2017: Dynamics of surface runoff and soil loss from a toposequence under varied land use practices in Rwizi catchment, Lake Victoria Basin.  Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 72(5):480-492. doi: 10.2489/jswc.72.5.480

Granger, R, Meadows ME, Hahn A, Stuut J-B, Herman N, Zabel M and Schefus E 2018: Coupling between late Holocene sea-surface temperature and terrestrial hydrology in southwestern Africa.  The Holocene 28(5): 695-705.            

Kirsten KL, Haberzettl T, Wündsch M, Frenzel P, Meschner S, Quick L, Mausbacher R and Meadows ME 2018: The impact of sea level changes on the southern Cape coast, South Africa and the variability of the Agulhas Bank environment during the Holocene.  Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaoecology 496: 282-291.

Maboya ML, Meadows, ME, Haberzettl T, Reimer, P and Backeberg B 2018: Late-Holocene marine radiocarbon reservoir correction for the South East coast of South Africa.  Radiocarbon 60(2): 571-582. doi:10.1017/RDC.2017.139   

Sengupta, D, Meadows ME and Chen R 2018: Building beyond land: coastal land reclamation and urban expansion.  Applied Geography 90: 229-238.

Wündsch M, Haberzettl T, Cawthra H, Kirsten K, Quick L, Abel M, Frenzel P, Hahn A, Baade J, Daut G, Kasper T, Meadows ME, Mäusbacher R. 2018: Holocene environmental change along the southern Cape coast of South Africa – insights from the Eilandvlei sediment record spanning the last 8.9 kyr.  Global and Planetary Change 163: 51-66.

Chen L, Song G, Meadows ME and Zou C 2018: Spatio-temporal evolution of an early-warning system for cultivated land security: a case study of Heilongjiang Province, China.  Land Use Policy 72: 280-292.

Quick, L, Chase, BM, Wündsch M, Kirsten KL, Chevalier M,Mausbacher R, Meadows ME and Haberzettl 2018: T A high-resolution record of Holocene climate and vegetation dynamics from the southern Cape coast of South Africa: pollen and microcharcoal evidence from Eilandvlei.  Journal of Quaternary Science 33(5): 487-500.

Kirsten, KL, Haberzettl, T, Wündsch M, Frenzel P, Meschner, A, Smit AJ, Quick LJ, Mausbacher R and Meadows, ME. 2018: A multiproxy study of the ocean-atmospheric forcing and the impact of sea- level changes on the southern Cape coast, South Africa during the Holocene Palaeoclimatology, Paleoclimatology, Palaeoecology 496: 282-291.

Kirsten KL, Fell J, Meschner S, Frenzel P, Kasper T, Wündsch M, Haberzettl, T and Meadows, ME Coastal lake dynamics based on the spatial heterogeneity of micro- and meio-organisms and the implications for palaeoreconstructions.   Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science 213: 98-107.

Haberzettl T, Kirsten K, Kasper T, Franza, S, Reinwarth B, Baade J, Daut G, Meadows ME, Suc Y and Mäusbacher R. Using 210Pb-data and paleomagnetic secular variations to date Anthropogenic Impact on a lake system at the Western Cape, South Africa. QuaternaryGeochronology (in revision).

Zhang Y, Zang S, Sun Li, Yan B, Yang T, Yan W, Meadows ME, Wang C and Qi J  Characterizing the changes in cropland environments of the Songnen Plain, northeast China, from 1990 to 2015.  Journal of Geographic Sciences (in press).

Meadows ME 2018: Geography and Future Earth.  In: Beer T (Ed.) Geosciences and Future Earth.  Springer, Berlin, (in press).

Finch J and Meadows ME 2018: South African biomes and their changes over time. In: Knight, J and Rogerson C (eds.) The Geography of South Africa - Contemporary Changes and New Directions. Springer, Berlin (in press).

Meadows ME and Holmes PJ 2018: Quaternary environmental change.  In: Holmes, PJ and Boardman, J (eds.) South African Landscapes and Environmental Change.  London: Routledge (in press).


Publications (Since 2000)

  • Meadows, ME 2012: The PhD: a South African perspective. Journal of Geography in Higher Education (in press)
  • Meadows, ME 2012: Quaternary environments: moving forward, looking backwards. Progress in Physical Geography (in press)
  • Quick. L, Chase, BM, Meadows, ME, Scott, L and Reimer, PJ 2011: A 19.5 kyr vegetation history from the central Cederberg Mountains, South Africa: Palynological evidence from rock hyrax middens. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 309: 253-270
  • Chase, BM, Meadows, ME, Quick, L, Carr, A and Reimer, P. 2011: Late-glacial interhemispheric climate dynamics revealed in South African hyrax middens. Geology 39: 19-22.
  • Chase, B, Meadows, ME, Carr, A and Reimer, P 2010: Evidence for progressive Holocene aridification in southern Africa recorded in Namibian hyrax middens: implications for African Monsoon dynamics and the 'African Humid Period'. Quaternary Research 74: 35-45.
  • Meadows, ME, Seliane, M and Chase, BM 2010: Holocene palaeoenvironments of the Cederberg and Swartruggens mountains, Western Cape, South Africa: pollen and stable isotope evidence from hyrax dung middens. Journal of Arid Environments 74: 786-793.
  • Meadows, ME and Thomas, DSG 2009: Tropical savannas. In: Slaymaker, O, Spencer, T and Embleton-Hamman, C (eds.). Geomorphology and Global Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 248-275. ISBN: 9780521878128
  • Chase, BM, Meadows, ME, Scott, L, Thomas, DSG, Marais, E, Sealy, J and Reimer, PJ. 2009: A record of rapid Holocene climate change preserved in hyrax middens from southwestern Africa. Geology 37: 703-706.
  • Meadows, M.E. 2008: Mediterranean environments. In: D.J.Cuff and A.S.Goudie (eds.)The Oxford Companion to Global Change. OUP, New York, pp. 415-419. ISBN10: 0195324889
  • Meadows, ME 2007: Conversations with others: Physical Geography in South Africa. South African Geographical Journal 89: 128-134.
  • Chase, B and Meadows, ME 2007: Late Quaternary dynamics of southern Africa's Winter Rainfall Zone. Earth Science Reviews 84: 103-138.
  • Meadows, ME 2007: Classics revisited: Coetzee 1968. Progress in Physical Geography 31: 313-317.
  • Meadows, ME and Chase, BM 2006: Late Pleistocene pollen records of Africa. In: Encyclopaedia of Quaternary Science. Wiley, London, pp. 2606-2613. ISBN 13: 978-0-444-52747-9
  • Carr, A., Thomas, DSG, Bateman, M, Meadows, ME & Chase, B 2006: Late Quaternary palaeoenvironments of the winter-rainfall zone of southern Africa: palynological and sedimentological evidence from the Agulhas Plain. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 239: 147-165.
  • Chase, B, Thomas, DSG, Bateman, MD and Meadows, ME 2006: Late Quaternary aeolian activity along the west coast of South Africa. Geophysical Research Abstracts 8: 2940.
  • Nash, D, Gulliver, V & Meadows, ME 2006: Late Quaternary environmental and vegetation changes in the Ncamasere Valley, Okavango panhandle, Botswana. Quaternary Science Reviews 25: 1302-1322.
  • Kiunsi, R and Meadows, ME 2006: A new and comprehensive land degradation assessment method: a case study of application to the Monduli District, Tanzania. Land Degradation and Development 17: 1-17.
  • Meadows, ME, Rahlao, S and Dietrich, K 2006: Land use dynamics, soil erosion and conservation in the Tygerberg Hills, Cape Town, South Africa. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie Supplementband 143: 71-82.
  • Meadows ME., 2006. Global change and southern Africa. Geographical Research 44 (2) 135-145.
  • Meadows, ME, Rahlao, S and Dietrich, K., 2006. Land use dynamics, soil erosion and conservation in the Tygerberg Hills, Cape Town, South Africa. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie Supplementband 142: 75-86.
  • Kiunsi, R and Meadows, ME., 2006. A new and comprehensive land degradation assessment method: a case study of application to the Monduli District, Tanzania. Land Degradation and Development 17: 1-17.
  • Nash, D & Meadows, ME., 2006. Late Quaternary environmental and vegetation changes in the Ncamasere Valley, Okavango panhandle, Botswana. Quaternary Science Reviews 25: 1302-1322.
  • Carr, AS, Thomas, DGS, Bateman, MD, Meadows, ME & Chase, BM., 2006. Late Quaternary palaeoenvironments of the winter-rainfall zone of southern Africa: palynological and sedimentological evidence from the Agulhas Plain. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 239: 147-165.
  • Meadows, ME & Chase, BM., 2006 Late Pleistocene pollen records of Africa. In: Bradshaw, I et al. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Quaternary Science. London: John Wiley (in press).
  • Foster, IDL, Boardman, J, Keay-Bright, J & Meadows, ME., 2005. Land degradation and sediment dynamics in the South African Karoo. In: Walling, D.E. and Horowitz, A. (eds) Sediment Budgets. Proc IAHS Symposium, Foz do Iguaçu, 3rd-9th April 2005, pp207-213.
  • Meadows, ME (ed.), 2004. Land Degradation and Development: Geographical Perspectives. Special Issue of Land Degradation and Development 15 (3): 201-349.
  • Meadows, ME., 2004. Land degradation and development: geographical perspectives. Land Degradation and Development 15: 201.
  • Meadows, ME and Chase, B., 2004. The Last Glacial Maximum in the Winter Rainfall Zone of South Africa: towards a revised synthesis. Polen 14: 224.
  • Meadows, ME., 2004. Biogeography. In: Sala, M (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems. EOLSS Publishers, Oxford.
  • Meadows, ME & Ramutsindela, M., 2004. Conservation, preservation and heritage. In: Matthews, JA & Herbert, DT (eds) Common Heritage, Shared Future: Perspectives on the Unity of Geography. Routledge, London, 305- 317.
  • Meadows, ME. 2003. Soil erosion in the Swartland, Western Cape Province, South Africa: implications of past and present policy and practice. Environmental Science and Policy 6: 17-28.
  • Meadows, ME & Hoffman, MT. 2003. Land degradation in South Africa: a national review and implications of climate change. Geographical Journal 169: 1-10.
  • Meadows, ME., 2003 John Acocks and the expanding Karoo hypothesis. South African Journal of Botany 69: 1-6.
  • Meadows, ME., 2003 African environments: past, present and future. Geo-öko-dynamik 24: 123-135.
  • Hoffman, M.T. and Meadows, M.E. 2003. Measurement and perceptions of desertification in South Africa. Annals of Arid Zone 42: 333-345.
  • Kuiper, S and Meadows, ME., 2002 Sustainability of livestock farming in southern Namibia's communal areas? Land Degradation and Development 13: 1-15.
  • Meadows, ME, Rogers, J, Lee-Thorp, JA, Bateman MD and Dingle, RV., 2002. Holocene chronology of a continental shelf mudbelt off southwestern Africa. The Holocene 12: 59-67.
  • Barrable, A, Meadows, ME & Hewitson, B., 2002. Environmental reconstruction and climate modelling from the late Quaternary in the Winter Rainfall Region of the Western Cape, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 98: 611-616.
  • Meadows ME & MT Hoffman, 2002. The nature, extent and causes of land degradation in South Africa: legacy of the past, lessons for the future? Area 34: 428-437.
  • Meadows, ME & Hill, TR., 2002. Issues in biogeography: diversity in theory and practice. The South African Geographical Journal 84: 116-124.
  • Meadows, ME., 2001. Biogeography: Does Theory Meet Practice? Progress in Physical Geography 25: 132-142.
  • Meadows, ME., 2001. The role of Quaternary environmental change in the evolution of landscapes: case studies from southern Africa. Catena 42: 39-57.
  • Meadows, ME., 2001. The biotic component of land degradation: action and reaction. Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen 145: 18-25.
  • Meadows, ME & Baxter, AJ., 2001. Holocene vegetation history and palaeoenvironments at Klaarfontein spring, Western Cape, South Africa. The Holocene 11: 699-706.
  • Roberts, N., Meadows, M.E. and Dodson, J.R., 2001. The history of mediterranean-type environments: climate, culture and landscape. The Holocene 11:.631-634.
  • Meadows, ME., 2001. Mediterranean environments. In: Goudie, A (Ed.) Encyclopaedia of Global Change. New York: Oxford University Press Vol. 2, 64-70.
  • Meadows, ME and Hoffman, MT., 2001. Land degradation and desertification in South Africa. In: Palacio-Prieto, JL and Luna-Gonzalez, L (eds.) Selected Topics in Geomorphology. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and International Geographical Union, Michoacan, Mexico, pp34-46.
  • Roberts, N., Meadows, ME and Dodson, JR (eds), 2001. Special issue of The Holocene: The history of mediterranean-type environments in the eastern hemisphere The Holocene 11 (6).
  • Parkington, JEP, Cartwright, C, Cowling, RM, Meadows, ME & Baxter, A., 2000. Palaeovegetation at the last glacial maximum in the western Cape, South Africa: wood charcoal and pollen evidence from Elands Bay Cave. South African Journal of Science 96: 543-546.
  • Gray, CED, Meadows, ME, Lee-Thorp, JA & Rogers, J. , 2000. Characterising the Namaqualand mudbelt of southern Africa: chronology, palynology and palaeoenvironments. South African Geographical Journal 82: 136-141.
  • Meadows, ME., 2000. The ecological resource base: biodiversity and conservation. In: Fox R and Rowntree, K (Eds) The Geography of a Changing South Africa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, pp361-389.
  • Meadows, ME (advisory editor)., 2000. In: Thomas, DSG and Gouide, AS (Eds) Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physical Geography, 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell 610 pp.