Mangrove Response to Environmental Change in Northern Australia
Mangroves in northern Australia have remained relatively undisturbed from anthropogenic activities due to the low population density, remoteness and inaccessibility. The forests in this region are expanding in both a seaward and landward direction, particularly in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Figure 1) as evidenced by a time-series of Landsat sensor data. This project will use remote sensing data acquired by airborne (aerial photography and lidar) and spaceborne optical sensors (Landsat and MODIS) to quantify and understand the reasons for landward and seaward expansion and the species responsible. The spatial data will be used in combination with climatic and oceanographic data (rainfall, solar exposure, atmospheric temperature, sea surface temperature, wind speed and direction, sea level, salinity, river discharge and ocean current/circulation) in order to understand the relative contributions of changes in sea level, hydrological regimes, climate patterns and ocean circulation and whether these have been exacerbated by recent changes in climate.
Figure 1: (a) The change in mangrove extent from 1987 to 2009 along a section of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The area experiences seasonal dry periods without flooding (b) and seasonal wet months with significant flooding (c). The flood events alter sediment dynamics and enhance sediment transport in the near shore area (d) which can encourage landward extension of mangroves
Supervisor: Professor Richard Lucas
Co-supervisor: Professor Richard Kingsford
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