Water Wednesday: Unconventional Gas seminar presentations now online.


The presentations from the Water Wednesday on June 18 are now online.

The seminar was presented by The Water Research Centre in conjunction with SA Branch of the Australian Water Association and showcased presentations from Professor Martin Kennedy, Mr Colin Cruickshank and Prof Craig Simmons.

Professor Martin Kennedy from the Environment gave a presentation entitled “Finding and Developing Unconventional Gas Sources and Minimising Impacts of Extraction.”

This and the other presentations by Mr Colin Cruickshank and Prof Craig Simmons as well as bios of the speakers can be found on the Environment Institute Event Page.


Warming and ice melt on the Antarctic Peninsula – Dr Nerilie Abram Presentation now online

The presentation by Dr Nerilie Abram (ANU), entitled: Warming and ice melt on the Antarctic Peninsulapresented by the Sprigg Geobiology Centre is now online.

The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed faster than any other region of the southern hemisphere over the past 50 years. But the short observational records of Antarctic climate don’t allow for an understanding of how unusual this recent climate warming may be. In this seminar I will present reconstructions of temperature and melt history from a highly resolved ice core record from James Ross Island on the northeastern Antarctic Peninsula. The isotope-derived temperature reconstruction gives a statistical framework to assess the rapid recent warming of the Antarctic Peninsula, and in conjunction with a spatial network of proxy records provides insights into the underlying climatic drivers. Visible melt layers in the James Ross Island ice core also yield a unique insight into the response of ice melt to changing temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula over the last 1000 years, with implications for future ice shelf and ice sheet stability in the region.

After her undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney, Nerilie studied for her PhD at the Australian National University where she used corals from Sumatra to learn about climate variability in the tropical Indian Ocean. She then worked for seven years as an ice core researcher at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, which included fieldwork on James Ross Island on the Antarctic Peninsula and for the NEEM deep ice core in Greenland. In 2011 Nerilie returned to ANU as a QEII research fellow awarded by the Australian Research Council. Nerilie’s research focus now spans from the tropics to Antarctica with the goal of improving understanding of the climate processes that affect Australia’s rainfall patterns. Nerilie has recently returned from a two month field season in east Antarctica where she was involved in a multinational project lead by the Australian Antarctic Division to retrieve a new 2000-year ice core climate record from Aurora Basin.

Nerilie Abram working on the ice core. Image: Paul Roger

Nerilie Abram working on the ice core. Image: Paul Roger



International Day of Biological Diversity 2014

International Day of Biological Diversity 2014

The United Nations have proclaimed May 22 as International Day of Biological Diversity, (IDBD) to help increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.


IDB2014 Poster

The theme this year is “islands”. Island comprise unique, irreplaceable ecosystems, often with many species found nowhere else on earth. One-tenth of the world’s population live on an island, comprising some 600 million islanders. The conservation of the unique ecosystems are paramount to the livelihood, economy, well-being and cultural identity of these people.

The Environment Institute is involved with important work to monitor and help reduce the rapid rate of biodiversity decline around the world.

Presented here is research by Associate Professor Phill Cassey and the Invasion Ecology group which focuses on Australia’s third largest island, Kangaroo Island.

The presentation is entitled: ” The distribution and management of feral Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) on Kangaroo Island, South Australia”.

Abstract: The Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) is a widely-distributed pest bird species. Native to the Indian sub-continent, peafowl have established numerous feral populations in Australasia, USA and Hawaii, Europe, and South Africa. At high densities feral peafowl are habitat modifiers and a social nuisance, although their ecological impacts have been poorly documented. 20 On Kangaroo Island (South Australia) feral peafowl have established from uncontained domestic populations and are now widely dispersed in separate groups across the island. Previous peafowl management on Kangaroo Island has not been implemented in an evidence-based coordinated manner. In 2013 we conducted an Adelaide University Honours research project (C. Cunningham) to quantify the distribution and size of peafowl groups across Kangaroo Island, and to determine the suitability of habitat for future spread and expansion of the feral populations. We found that there is abundant unoccupied suitable habitat on Kangaroo Island and that, without management, the islandwide population is expected to substantially increase. Population modeling demonstrated that an annual cull of 150 birds would sufficiently reduce the island population, in six years, to realistic levels for achieving population eradication.

Professor Barbara Minsker ‘Sustainable and Resilient Urban Stormwater Management’ presentation now available.

Professor Barbara Minsker from the University of Illinois visited the University and gave a seminar entitled:

Sustainable and Resilient Urban Stormwater Management: Novel “Big Data” Approaches to Improving Human and Ecosystem Wellbeing‘.

View the presentation below.

Abstract: Over half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, a number predicted to grow to 60 percent by 2030. Urban areas face unprecedented and growing challenges from population growth; increased flooding, droughts, and severe storms from climate instability; food, water, and energy insecurity; poverty and health issues; and loss of biodiversity.

The increasing stream of data and information (“Big Data”) can support rapid advances on these challenges through informatics- and systems-based methods. This talk will discuss research that demonstrates this potential, focusing on urban stormwater challenges. Ongoing research to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) using an interactive knowledge discovery dashboard and model predictive control algorithms will be highlighted first.

Many major cities are launching initiatives to address CSOs and associated water quality problems through wide-scale implementation of green stormwater infrastructure (GI), such as rain gardens, permeable pavements, green roofs, and urban wetlands. Current design practices focus solely on stormwater criteria for designing GI, but significant co-benefits to human and ecosystem health can be achieved through a more holistic approach.

The second portion of the talk will present a novel computational GI design framework that integrates stormwater management requirements with criteria for human and ecosystem health. The framework enables crowd-sourced, collaborative design using numerical and machine learning models coupled with a service-oriented cyberinfrastructure. The framework will be tested in Baltimore and Chicago and the findings extended to 3 other cities through a national working group funded by the Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland.


Prof Barbara Minsker. Source: University of Illinois

Prof Barbara Minsker. Source: University of Illinois

Biography: Barbara Minsker is Professor and Arthur and Virginia Nauman Faculty Scholar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research uses information technology to improve understanding and management of complex environmental systems, with a focus on water and sustainability. She served as a policy consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency from 1986-1990, and has been at the University of Illinois since 1996. Barbara will be visiting the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering next week.


Research Tuesdays: “Where will we source our Energy?” presentation now online

The latest Research Tuesdays presentation Where will we source our energy? is now online. This was a special end of year event featuring five panellists, including Professor Barry Brook, Director of Climate Science at the Environment Institute.

The topic of this presentation is particularly pertinent after last weeks heatwave, during which blackouts were experienced across the country due to high demand for power. The cost of running air-conditioning in what are predicted to be more frequent heatwaves is an issue that will inevitably also focus our attention further to exactly where we will source our energy from in the future.

Other members of the expert panel included Professor Graham “Gus” Nathan, mechanical engineer and founding Director of the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Energy Technology as well as Associate Professor David Lewis (PhD CEng FIChemE), a chemical engineer in the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering.

city lights

Flickr: Ralph Walker

Podcast for Kathy Belov seminar now available.

The podcast from the seminar by Kathy Belov Can we save the Tasmanian devil from extinction? is now available.

The iconic Tasmanian devil is under threat. Not only does it face traditional conservation pressures, a devastating facial tumor is wiping out populations across Tasmania. The species is the focus of numerous conservation efforts and research, but can the devil be saved from extinction? Professor Katherine Belov, ARC Future Fellow and Professor of Comparative Genetics at the University of Sydney,  explores the fate of the Tasmanian devil.Tasmanian Devil. Image - Flickr/Scott Nolan

Tasmanian Devil. Image – Flickr/Scott Nolan

Katherine Belov is Professor of Comparative Genomics at the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Sydney and contributing author of the 2012 Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics. In this seminar, Prof. Belov discusses:

  • the origins of the Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), a transmissible cancer that has already caused the disappearance of 85 percent of the species and could lead to its extinction in the wild within 25 years.
  • what is known of the tumor based on its genomics
  • why it is transmitted between animals without causing immune recognition in the devils
  • conservation efforts to save the species from extinction.

Podcast download [50 MB]

Water Wednesday Bryson Bates Podcast Available

Dr Bryson Bates

Dr Bryson Bates

It’s National Water Week, and to celebrate we’re releasing the latest Water Wednesday podcast. Dr Bryson Bates was a Theme Leader for CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship from 2008 to 2013, and is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Civil, Environmental and mining at the University of Adelaide. 

He spoke at the Water Wednesday about climate change and flood risk.

Dr Bates, was the Director of CSIRO’s Climate Program from 2004 to 2006. He served as a Lead Author for the Second, Third and Fourth Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  and a Convening Lead Author for the IPCC’s Technical Paper on WAter and Climate Change. Bryson has received a certificate of recognition for his contribution to the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to the IPCC and Al Gore. Bryson is the Foundation Editor-in-Chief for the international journal Climate Risk Management and an Editor for the international journal  Climate Research. He is an invited member of several national and international committees. He was also a member of the Expert Advisory Board for the European Union’s WATer and global Change (WATCH) Project. His research interests include: hydroclimatic extremes; non-stationarity in hydroclimatic time series, downscaling numerical climate model simulations, and the effects of climate forcing on rivers.

Click here to download the podcast.


Four in 40: water treatment systems podcast

The Water Research Centre in conjunction with SA Water Knowledge Sharing Seminar presented “New advances in treatment systems for water”, the latest Four in 40 forum, on Thursday 15 August.

Speakers included:

  • Christian Doonan, Director of Centre for Advanced Nanomaterials, the University of Adelaide: Advances in designer membrane technologies
  • Jim Kelly, CEO, Arris Water: The uses of zeolites as a low-cost, low-technology solution for water treatment
  • Jim Townsend, CEO, Micromet: New advances in the use of electro-flocculation for the rapid production of high quality water from waste water supplies
  • Con Pelekani, Principal Water Treatment Engineer, SA Water: Water Treatment: Is it full steam ahead? a utility perspective

Listen to the podcasts

Prof Peter Ward podcast available

Professor Peter Ward

The podcast from the presentation by Professor Peter Ward is now available for download.

Peter D. Ward, Ph.D, is a paleontologist and professor in the Departments of Geology and Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an adjunct professor of zoology and astronomy. His research specialties include the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event and mass extinctions generally. His books include the best-selling “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe” (co-author Donald Brownlee, 2000), “Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future” (2007), and “The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?” (2009).

A taxonomy of mass extinctions based on new geobiological research in the Gondwana Continents

Mass extinctions have been the subject of intense curiosity and study from the dawn of the discipline of Geology as a modern science.  The topic has informed (or clashed) with fundamental principles of Geology through its history, including Catastrophism, Uniformitarianism, and most recently a nascent “Neocatastrophism”.  In this talk Professor Peter Ward will communicate new information from  geobiological research by his group that pertains to this debate.

Specific new data coming from research into the K/Pg mass extinction at field sites in Antarctica, the late Devonian mass extinction based on work just finished in the Canning Basin of Australia, and the Permian mass extinction from new work in both South Africa and Western Canada.  The talk will conclude with a rough attempt at proposing a “taxonomy” of mass extinction causes.

Listen to the podcast