We’ve extended our reach across the globe – from the remotest regions, to the depths of the oceans, and the expanse of the sky and space.

In the Extreme Environments Medicine and Science group, we work to understand, evaluate and enhance human comfort and performance in these places.

We research in the areas of sport, industry, emergency services, military and for expeditions to the ultimate extremes.

Our expertise has assisted athletes preparing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. And we are internationally recognised for the impact of our research.

Survival in the sea

Focussing on human responses to immersion and survival in cold water. Projects include assessments of combat swimmer equipment, breathing aids and life-jackets, research into techniques to prevent drowning, and cardiac irregularities during sea survival training.

The thermal environment

Military projects include research into prototype operational clothing, to those thought to be suffering from non-freezing cold injuries. We’re also investigating the characteristics of thermoregulation when exercising in sport-specific clothes.

Working at altitude

Investigating physiological cross-adaptation of the body to extreme environments, promoting adaptations useful at altitude imposed by cold-water immersion. Other work has investigated the use of inspiratory muscle training, for improving performance at altitude.

Search and surveillance, and expedition support

This relatively new area of research has concentrated on the best search and surveillance techniques for RNLI beach lifeguards, and supports expeditions to extreme environments. Recent examples include:

  • 737 Challenge: a 7 month race to climb the highest mountain on each of the world's continents and The South and Geographical North Poles
  • The Coldest Journey: a 2000-mile journey across Antarctic

Key research topics


We offer research and consultancy services, using our expertise in this group, as well as facilities and equipment housed in the Spinnaker Building.

This includes a biomechanics laboratory, physiology laboratory, sports development facilities and our research lab.


  • Ministry of Defence - Dr Dan Roiz de Sa, Honorary Lecturer & Independent Medical Officer (Institute of Naval Medicine) and Dr Mike Dennis, Dstl Porton Down
  • Kings College London - Professor Mike Shattock and Dr James Clark
  • University of Wolongong, Australia - Associate Professor Nigel Taylor
  • Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia - Professor Igor Mekjavic
  • The Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden - Dr Ola Eiken
  • Kobe University, Japan - Dr Narihiko Kondo
  • Université Louis Pasteur (France) - Dr André Dufour
  • Surf Lifesaving UK - Dr Paddy Morgan, Associate Researcher
  • The group is also part of the Environmental Physiology & Ergonomics Research Exchange (EPERE)

Get in touch

We’re seeking volunteers to take part in some of our studies. This is a great opportunity to get an insight into our work. The requirements will vary, such as fitness levels and availability to visit our laboratories.

If you’d like to get involved in any of our research, be added to our database of potential volunteers, or would like to discuss our research in greater detail, then get in touch: jim.house@port.ac.uk

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