Obituary: Professor W. G. C. Carter

Richard William Gale Carter, coastal scientist: born Bristol 24 February 1946: Research Student, New University of Ulster 1968-72; Lecturer in Geography, City of London Polytechnic 1972; lecturer, New University of Ulster 1972-93, Head of Department of Environmental Studies 1988-92; married Clare Binney (one son, one daughter); died Belfast 17 July 1993.

WITH the death of Bill Carter the world of environmental studies has lost one of leading coastal scientists in Great Britain and Ireland. Amongst his colleagues and friends Carter will be remembered not only for his academic scholarship, but also as an immense, engaging personality. If his personality had to be summed up in only one word, that word would be 'dynamic'.

Born in Bristol in 1946, Carter attended Bristol Cathedral school before going on to university in Aberystwyth and graduating with the University of Wales prize for geography in 1968. The same year he arrived at the New University of Ulster at Coleraine as a research student. Under the supervision of Professor Frank Oldfield, Carter's love ofthe Northern Ireland coastline was awakened, which later extended to coastlines throughout the world. After a year away from Ulster lecturing in geography at the City of London Polytechnic in 1972, Carter returned to lecture at the New University of Ulster, where he remained until his death.

Initially stimulated by geomorphology, his interest in coastal processes gradually encompassed ecological and human influences and the consequent coastal research management problems and their potential solutions. A holistic, interrelated approach to the coast is embodied in many of the books he authored or co-authored. His most significant and seminal work is his 600-page Coastal Environments (1988), a definitive textbook on the problems of contemporary and future coastal management around the world. He also wrote over 110 academic papers and reports. Carter delivered conference papers at over 70 international conferences and took on editorship or assistant editorships of numerous journals including Irish Geography, Journal of Coastal Research, Journal of Shoreline Management and Aquatic Conservation, which helped establish and consolidate his worldwide academic standing.

In the early 1980s, Carter began to build a research team, initially local and later national and international in character. Throughout the Eighties and early Nineties, Carter's coastal team's research findings were consistently impressive. National and international research awards were secured from organisations such as Nato, the US National Parks Service, the EC, the Royal Society, the NERC and a host of government departments.

Widely known and admired in Irish environmental circles for his committee work with the Ulster Countryside Committee, National Trust, and Irish Geographical Society, Carter was also recognised in the broader community for his frequent media appearances on environmental issues. In 1992 his international standing was acknowledged when he was elected President of the European Union for Coastal Conservation, the largest coastal research group in Europe.

When taking part in joint research projects in Spain and Portugal, colleagues fondly remember Carter not quite coming to grips with the southern European lunch break; they bet their Spanish and Portuguese academic counterparts that Carter would not be persuaded to sit for more than half an hour at any lunch talk before being overtaken by the urge to get up and continue exploring. For over five years his colleagues never lost a bet.

At least 12 generations of Ulster students on Spanish field courses can testify to Carter's acerbic observations characteristically delivered in his broad West Country 'burr', decrying the anarchic development associated with the growth of mass tourism in the Malaga region.

When Carter became head of the Department of Environmental Studies at Ulster in 1988 his qualities of leadership, humour and compassion were never more apparent, engendering a tremendous loyalty amongst his staff, for whom he always baked individual birthday cakes.

Words which immediately spring to mind in remembering Bill Carter are humour (usually irreverent), infectious enthusiasm, caring, concern for people, unstinting generosity, intense optimism (essential in a lifelong Bristol City supporter) and superficial irascibility.

Last year he stood down as Head of Department in order to concentrate more on his research activities, and further develop the fruitful research partnership he had formed with his long-standing co-researcher Julian Orford, of Queen's University, Belfast.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders