Understanding, mitigating and adapting to environmental change is a core theme in sustainability science. Change occurs both naturally and from human activities. Differentiating and understanding the relationships between the two is important for forecasting future impacts to the natural and human environments.

We focus on examining current and past changes – the latter allows us to place the former into context. Questions such as, ‘Can we detect changes in the environment due to anthropogenic global warming?’ require us first to have a sound understanding of the natural variability before we can attribute any changes to human causes.

One of our specialties is the reconstruction of past environments using various geochemical, isotopic, microfossil and sedimentary proxies, and the derivation of millennial to decadal scale length records of events and environmental changes, such as tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, landslides, bushfires, sea levels, temperature, rainfall, sea surface salinity, vegetation, terrestrial run-off, and sedimentation in marine environments, along with broad regional climate variations such as ENSO.

Our research spans substantial areas of the southern hemisphere, including the Pacific Ocean, tropical Australia from Queensland to Western Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region including Madagascar. We also have research sites in the northwest Pacific.

Our aim is to use the results of our research to better understand future environmental changes. To do this we incorporate data into models of future environmental changes, such as tropical cyclone behaviour, sea level rise, sediment impacts to coral reefs, and near-shore marine environments. We collaborate with many researchers globally and have numerous cross-disciplinary interests and research projects with climatologists, meteorologists, geologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers, oceanographers, soil scientists, ecologists and mathematicians.

Theme members

Dr Christa Placzek

Theme Leader

Dr Christa Placzek

Prof Michael Bird

Prof Michael Bird

Dr Brad Congdon

Dr Brad Congdon

Dr Kalu Davies

Dr Kalu Davies

A/Prof Yvette Everingham

A/Prof Yvette Everingham

Dr Lori Lach

Dr Lori Lach

A/Prof Michael Liddell

A/Prof Michael Liddell

Dr Niels Munksgaard

Dr Niels Munksgaard

Dr Tobin Northfield

Dr Tobin Northfield

Dr Petina Pert

Dr Petina Pert

Dr Anna Pintor

Dr Anna Pintor

Dr Noel Preece

Dr Noel Preece

Dr Christian Reepmeyer

Dr Christian Reepmeyer

Dr April Reside

Dr April Reside

Dr Cassandra Rowe

Dr Cassandra Rowe

A/Prof Michael Rowland

A/Prof Michael Rowland

Dr Sean Sloan

Dr Sean Sloan

A/Prof Scott Smithers

A/Prof Scott Smithers

Prof Sean Ulm

Prof Sean Ulm

Dr Chris Wurster

Dr Chris Wurster