PhD position at UQ: restoration of South-East Asian peatlands

Written by Kathryn Amos on . Posted in Opportunities, Student Scholarships

Please find some information below about a joint PhD project between the University of Queensland and the University of Exeter. More details on the application process can be found at

Assessment of the restoration of South-East Asian peatlands through sedimentological and palaeoecological analysis

Associate Professor Patrick Moss, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences UQ, Associate Professor Paul Dargusch, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Exeter, Dr Angela Gallego-Sala, Geography, Professor Dan Charman, Geography.

The tropical peatlands of South East Asia are a significant storehouse of carbon (~69 Gt of carbon and 77% of global peat carbon), however these peatlands have been extensively drained for agricultural activity and as a results of this there has been a dramatic increase in the frequency and intensity of peatland fires. These fires generate significant carbon emissions and generate air pollution that impacts the health of millions of people. Peatland fire hotspots include the Indonesia islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan but also impact the broader South-East Asian archipelago region.

Around thirteen million hectares of peatland has been degraded and the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) of Indonesia has been tasked with accelerating the restoration of 2.5 million hectares of priority degraded peat-domes in Sumatra and Kalimantan. This restoration effort will be achieved through the rewetting of the peat-domes through raising groundwater levels through the damming of canals that have been used to drain peatlands.

An important aspect of this restoration effort is an assessment of how the peat soils and associated vegetation are recovering and the provision of targets to provide an appropriate measure of success. A key way that this can be achieved is through some insight into the state of the peatland soils prior to when they were degraded and the peat soils themselves provides the opportunity to achieve this, as they contain a record, through a range of environmental proxies (including pollen, charcoal, testate amoebae, sediment composition and geochemical properties).

This project will investigate peat domes from Kalimantan and Sumatra using high-resolution sedimentological and palaeoecological analysis (i.e. sub-decadal scale) for the last 500 years. This will provide baseline data that will provide a framework for peat restoration, particularly in terms of an assessment of how successful it is (i.e. what are natural levels of plant biodiversity, peat composition and groundwater hydrology), but also how resilient peat swamp forests and soils are to past periods of environmental change (both anthropogenic and natural climatic impacts). Apply

Submit UQ expression of interest form by 26 May 2018

PhD opportunity in sea level reconstruction

Written by Kathryn Amos on . Posted in Opportunities, Student Scholarships

Sea-Level Reconstructions at subsiding coastlines in New Zealand Project Description Satellite and tide-gauge observations from around the globe show sea level rising at accelerating rates that are projected to continue. Whilst the underlying causes are well understood, much less certain is how different coastal areas will be affected. In tectonically active New Zealand, subsiding coastal areas will exacerbate the effects of ice melt and thermosteric expansion. Recent GPS observations provide a basis for constraining vertical land movement (VLM) and targeting high-risk coastlines, but - much like the recent sea-level observations - they need to be evaluated in a longer term context. For example, we do not know if the direction of VLM observed at one locality has been maintained beyond the few decades for which observations exist.

This project aims to address the problem with a two-pronged approach. First, it will compare existing decadal (instrumental) and centennial (geological) records for sea-level change in New Zealand with recent GPS observations for VLM to provide a national scale assessment of the tectonic impacts of recent sea-level rise. Second, and guided by this first task, the project will develop new centennial-scale sea-level reconstructions at a small number of targeted sites where VLM is likely to have been significant. This second phase of the project will include a substantial amount of fieldwork and labwork, applying proxy methods for reconstructing sea-level change from microfossils (foraminifera and, possibly, diatoms) preserved in salt-marsh sediments. The outcomes of this PhD project will inform local sea-level projections and, more generally, coastal infrastructure providers, national policy statements and hazards and planning guidance documents. This project is also part of a much wider research programme aimed at determining how future sea-level rise will affect New Zealand's coasts.

The studentship will be based at Victoria University of Wellington, but with provision to work for ca. 3 months at University of York, UK. Depending on available skills and experience, the successful applicant will receive training in palaeoecological techniques, modelling, dating methods, and field techniques. The supervisory team includes Victoria supervisors Prof. Rewi Newnham and Dr Andrew Rees (New Zealand Quaternary, modelling and statistical analysis) and Prof. Roland Gehrels at the University of York (UK) (sea-level reconstruction and salt-marsh geology). The project is open to students with a Masters degree in Physical or Environmental Geography, Geology, Environmental Science or a closely-related subject. Relevant field and lab skills and interests in sea-level and climate change are obviously a plus. Experience in using R for analysing environmental data would be beneficial.

Funding Notes and Application Procedure:

Fully funded for 3 years, the studentship covers an annual stipend of $NZ25,000, research costs, and tuition fees. Studentships are available to non-resident New Zealand students (language requirements apply for non-native English speakers).

To apply, please send CV, a brief (one page max.) account of why this position interests you and the names of two academic referees who we may contact in support of your application. Applications close: April 30th 2018 Further inquiries to Rewi Newnham: or Roland Gehrels:

Lectureship and PhD opportunities

Written by Kathryn Amos on . Posted in Job Vacancies, Opportunities, Student Scholarships

PhD opportunity in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction at James Cook University. As part of an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship, Professor Michael Bird is seeking to appoint a PhD student in the general areas of sedimentology, geochemistry and/or palynology. The Laureate project will produce terrestrial records of environmental change before, during and after the arrival of humans in Australian tropical savannas. Applicants with a Masters Degree or a First Class Honours degree and an appropriate background in Earth Sciences, Physical Geography or Archaeology should contact Michael Bird for further information ( Closing date for expressions of interest: June 30th, 2016 Start date: as soon as possible.

Three new Level B Lecturer in Geography positions have been advertised by the University of Queensland. One of their forward foci areas is coastal and marine physical processes and geohazards. Applications close 10th June. The advertisement and application details can be found here