PhD Top-Up Scholarship Students   Summer Scholarship Students

PhD Top-Up Scholarship Students

Carly Tozer (University of Newcastle)

Project title: Utilising insights into climate patterns and causal processes to improve
seasonal to multidecadal hydroclimatic forecasting in South East Australia

Project summary:

Previous work has identified significant relationships between several large‐scale oceanatmospheric phenomena and southeast Australian climate variability. However, there is still
a large degree of uncertainty around the characteristics and mechanisms of the regional and
large‐scale climate drivers important to southeast Australia which makes it difficult to
develop robust climate change adaptation strategies. In particular, interactions between
climate mechanisms in the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans, and their relationship with
the local scale synoptic patterns that actually deliver weather to southeast Australia, must
be understood in order to better understand (and predict and adapt for) southeast
Australian climate variability and/or change. Therefore this project will focus on:
‐ Clarifying the relationship between individual climate mechanisms known to impact
southeast Australian hydroclimate (e.g. ENSO, IOD, SAM, ENSO Modoki, IPO,
subtropical ridge etc);
‐ Clarifying the way climate drivers interact to suppress/enhance the impacts evident
when the drivers act (or are investigated) in isolation


Laurisse Frampton (Griffith University)

Project title: Permanent to Intermittent: do drying pools behave as refugia in sub-tropical rivers

Project summary:


The sub-tropical rivers of South-East Queensland (SEQ) are under pressure from both increased human intervention as well as the potential for increased hydrological variability associated with a changing climate. With a growing population increased demands are being placed on the region’s waterways both in urban areas and rural regions. During periods of reduced rainfall, a greater reliance on water abstraction from streams and rivers for stock watering and irrigation are potentially altering the natural flow patterns of SEQ streams and rivers.  The period of very low to no flows can be greatly increased, with the potential to reduce the river network to a series of isolated pools for extended periods. In addition, the added pressure of climate change may further reduce water availability and increase periods of fragmentation and waterhole isolation as well as alter thermal regimes of aquatic ecosystems. These changes may disrupt the life history strategies of in-stream organisms and change many in-stream processes, reducing the ecological health of rivers both during the dry time, but also reducing their ability to respond when flow returns during the wet (reduced resilience).


This project plans to build on research already undertaken on the ecological roles of waterholes (pools) as refugia in dryland rivers (where intermittency and disconnection between pools is a normal hydrological state), to understand the potential impacts of hydrological changes (through climate change and water resource management) on the ecology of refugial regions of sub-tropical rivers of south-east Queensland. This project will examine the spatial and temporal patterns of macroinvertebrate diversity in refugial pools of large subtropical rivers, and compare this to diversity during periods of hydrological connection. This study will also investigate the influences of hydrological disconnection on water quality within these isolated pools, and the resilience of the macroinvertebrates within these pools to changes in water quality (e.g. temperature and salinity) and flow connection and disconnection. Macroinvertebrate food webs will be explored to determine whether the disconnection of pools within the river network changes the major sources of carbon fuelling ecosystem production. This project will also try to determine how resilient these pools, and therefore the rivers, are to hydrological change associated with increased water resource development and increased climate variability. The understanding gained from this project would be used to generate a conceptual understanding of the ecology of sub-tropical rivers within south-east Queensland and their potential resilience to changes in climate.



Michelle Ho (University of Newcastle)

Project title: Factors controlling floods and droughts in the Murray-Darling Basin

Project summary:

 It has been shown that various climate drivers such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean dipole influence the availability of water in Eastern Australia. Paleoclimate data exists for some of these climate drivers. Analysis of the relationships between these climate drivers and the Murray-Darling Basin data (if validated in this project) could then be performed. This analysis would enable improved quantification of extreme event (i.e. drought, flood) risks in a variable and changing climate, which therefore enables more informed and focussed climate adaptation strategies to be developed.



Summer Scholarship Students

Melissa Klampt                                                                                                                                     Monash University                                                                                                                               Supervised by Prof. Jenny Davis and Dr. Ross Thompson                                                                 Predicting climate change impacts on the iconic monotreme: the platypus: Ornithorhynchus anatinus