Head and sholders view of Dr Adrian Chappell

Dr Adrian Chappell.

Dr Adrian Chappell investigates the key processes affecting Australia’s soil and landscape function

Dr Adrian Chappell leads digital soil mapping and demonstrates the impact of soil redistribution on carbon cycling and carbon accounting.

  • 16 March 2009 | Updated 8 May 2014

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Adrian Chappell is a Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO Land and Water’s Soil and Landscape Science research program where he leads digital soil mapping within the Quantitative Land Evaluation team.

His research contributes to projects in CSIRO’s Sustainable Agriculture Flagship and is supporting the development of spatial data infrastructure and systems for monitoring and forecasting soil condition across Australia.

His research involves:

  • developing cost-effective systems for spatial and temporal measurement and monitoring the functional properties of soils and landscapes
  • understanding vertical and lateral fluxes in the form of pedogenic and soil redistribution processes
  • combining process-based models with data across multiple scales (between ground-based proximal sensing to satellite remote sensing)
  • the use of novel sampling approaches and geostatistics.

Dr Chappell's research is supporting the development of spatial data infrastructure and systems for monitoring and forecasting soil condition across Australia.

Dr Chappell's research aims to improve land surface fluxes in climate models (BIOS2/CABLE) and provide a realistic feedback between a changing climate, human adaptation and environmental response.

His research has three themes:

  • Mapping and uncertainty of environmental properties over large areas
  • Towards remote sensing of soil degradation
  • Detecting change in environmental properties.

Recent activities include:

  • incorporating soil organic carbon dust emission in national carbon accounting for estimating global CO2 emissions (2013)
  • a report for the Carbon Farming Initiative that provided the statistical basis on how to sample soil organic carbon and detect change over time (2013)
  • unrecognised soil redistribution uncertainties in carbon sequestration rates for building soil organic carbon stocks (2013)
  • soil erosion decline across south-eastern Australia and likely consequence of the widespread adoption of soil conservation measures (1990-2010). 


Dr Chappell’s PhD was on the impact of soil erosion on land degradation in south west Niger, West Africa. It was a response to desertification in the Sahel region and, more specifically, increased population pressure and extensification to more marginal land and desiccation (secular reduction in precipitation).

As a post-doctoral researcher at University College London (UCL), UK, he worked on indigenous knowledge of the cropping system in Niger and the implications for land degradation and at the University of Lund, Sweden, on a project modelling energy balances in the Sahel using AVHRR satellite data.

After spending time travelling around the world, he returned to UCL as a Research Fellow on wind erosion on European light soils.

Dr Chappell joined the University of Salford in Manchester, UK where he held a mixed research and teaching position in physical geography between 1998 and 2006. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2003.

He worked for a geostatistics consultancy company that services the petroleum and mining industries worldwide and delivered training courses in geostatistics for petroleum professionals.

He joined CSIRO in January 2009.

Dr Chappell has expertise in:

  • soil geomorphology
  • soil erosion (particularly wind erosion and dust emission)
  • 137Cs technique for estimating soil erosion
  • digital soil mapping
  • geomorphometry
  • geostatistics, stochastic simulations, sampling and scaling
  • remote sensing; soil bi-directional spectral reflectance modelling (e.g., MODIS)
  • canonical ordination.

Academic qualifications

Dr Chappell has been awarded a:

  • Doctor of Philosophy from the University of London, England in 1995
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Salford, England in 2001
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) from the University of Coventry, England in 1991.


Dr Chappell has more than 40 journal articles and more than 20 conference papers, book chapters and several reports for State and Australian Government agencies.

He was awarded the prestigious UK Leverhulme Fellowship for 'Space-time mapping of wind erosion in Australia'.

He has received funding from UK and Australian research councils, the UK Leverhulme Trust and the UK Royal Society and Royal Geographical Society.

Professional activities

Dr Chappell is a research editor for the journals:

  • Soil and Water Conservation
  • Aeolian Research.

He is a member of the:

  • International Society of Aeolian Research (ISAR)
  • Royal Geographical Society (RGS)
  • British Society for Geomorphology (BSG)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • Accredited Fellow, UK Higher Education Academy.

Find out more about CSIRO Land and Water and the Sustainable Agriculture Flagship.