Catchment and Coastal Processes in the Light of Global Change
Catchment and coastal processes affect billions of people across the globe in the most diverse ways, e.g. by providing water resources and natural habitat, by providing suitable grounds for extensive agricultural activity, human settlements and recreational environments, as a host of abundant biodiversity, and as a source of threats from natural disasters such as flooding or erosion. With increasing impacts arising from human activities in river catchments, coastal systems and ongoing climate change, these threats to natural habitats, biodiversity and resident communities are increasingly exacerbated. To gain a more detailed understanding of these impacts, CCRG considers catchments and coasts as interconnected and integrated systems, which are critically important to understand the outcomes of climate change and human impacts (e.g. land-use change) for rivers, catchments and coastal zones.
Hard engineering (i.e. the construction of hard flood protection infrastructure) has traditionally been applied to address flooding and erosion related risks in river catchments and coastal systems. However, the scientific community as well as catchment and coastal managers are increasingly recognizing the urgent need for utilizing natural dynamics to reduce risks from flooding and erosion, thereby enhancing the sustainability of flood and erosion mitigation strategies, restoring natural habitats, increasing biodiversity, enhancing groundwater recharge, and creating additional sinks for atmospheric carbon to support national net-zero carbon target. However, to develop innovative and effective NBS, it is of critical importance to work with (rural) communities to adequately quantify economic impacts of NBS and develop strategies for communities to benefit from the implementation of NBS. In CCRG, we aim to bridge the gap between catchment and coastal managers wanting to implement NBS and resident communities for the successful implementation of these schemes.
Catchment processes include the interconnection of the terrestrial and aquatic environment. Our catchments are sensitive to changes in climate, land-use, and natural processes. Changes in our catchments can implications for our fluvial systems and coastal landscapes. Our research focuses on the impacts of climate and human activity on terrestrial-aquatic ecosystems.
River systems drain water and carry sediments from the catchments to coastal areas, and concentrate a wide range of resources and ecosystem services. Our research focuses on understanding the fundamental processes that determine river forms and behaviours, changes due to direct human disturbances and climate change, and lies at the interface between geomorphology, ecology and hydrology.
Coastal landscapes are formed by the power of waves and tides, and depend on sediments delivered by rivers. Global change, including sea-level rise and changing storm patterns, significantly modifies these drivers, and our research aims to estimate future coastal landscapes through modelling and the reconstruction of past coastal environments.
Water Resources and Management
Human impact and climate change exert increasing pressures on freshwater resources globally. These pressures include increased discharges on nutrients and pollutants, salinization of coastal ground water resources and deterioration of water quality as a consequence of increased intensity, and frequency of wild and bushfires.
Nature-based solutions utilise natural ecosystem services to address existing social and environmental issues. They are generally sustainable and low cost, and provide wide benefits; however, difficult to quantify the actual values. Our research aims to assess those social and environmental benefits through field surveys and numerical modelling works.
CCRG is involved in a wide range of externally and internally funded research projects. These collaborative research projects deliver inclusive and interdisciplinary research to address the interdisciplinary challenges at hand and actively involve researchers of all career stages.