Project summaries - 2010 Environmental Research - major grants

Updated July 2011

2010 Environmental Research - major grants
OrganisationCategoryProject titleAmount $
CSIROEnvironmental pollutionSustainable energy deployment within the MAQS region

99,980

CSIRO EntomologyBiodiversity and conservationRestoring biodiversity in NSW through biocontrol of mistflower

95,016

Macquarie UniversityClimate change - biophysicalA new approach to extracting hydrological history from River Red Gum

20,000

Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Premier and CabinetEnvironmental pollutionAn integrated instrumental approach for tracking pollution to source

 99,958

Southern Cross UniversityClimate change - biophysicalMultigenerational impact of climate change on marine life histories

195,786

University of NewcastleResource efficiency and sustainabilityChar from black coal tailings for fertiliser and carbon storage

 99,930

University of New EnglandClimate Change - biophysicalBiodiversity resilience under climate, land cover and land use change

 150,000

University of New South WalesClimate change - biophysicalDynamically downscaled climate projections for the eastern seaboard

199,856

University of SydneyBiodiversity and conservationBenchmarks for ecological function in urban ecosystems

99,882

University of WollongongClimate change - biophysicalClimate change impacts on bushfire fuels

196,619

University of WollongongEnvironmental pollutionA rapid pre-screening technique for bioavailable metals in sediment

79,000

11 Projects 

TOTAL

$1,336,027

CSIRO
Sustainable energy deployment within the MAQS region
$99,980

In a study undertaken by CSIRO for a NSW Environmental Trust project, the Energy Sector Model (ESM) was updated with the relevant data for the Sydney-CBD and used to predict the best options for the deployment of different types of electricity generators within the selected area that would have the least impacts on air quality. This study expands the region to cover the metropolitan air quality study (MAQS) region to help regulators and authorities select the appropriate future siting and technologies needed to secure future energy demand with the least impacts on the human health, environment and greenhouse gas emissions.

CSIRO Entomology
Restoring biodiversity in NSW through biocontrol of mistflower
$95,016

Remnant rainforest patches along the east coast of NSW are important repositories of biodiversity and include World Heritage Areas. Mistflower is an invasive riparian plant that negatively affects populations of listed rare and threatened species in NSW including several plant, amphibian, and bird species. Current management is restricted to hand-pulling and herbicides, which can have adverse effects on non-target species. This project will undertake a biodiversity assessment to quantify the impact of mistflower and assess the feasibility of introducing a fungal biocontrol agent for mistflower, which has provided effective, safe, and sustainable control in both Hawaii and New Zealand.

Macquarie University
A new approach to extracting hydrological history from River Red Gum
$20,000

This project will develop new methods for obtaining reliable high-resolution growth histories from River Red Gums in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB). We will use novel high resolution radiocarbon dating and advanced scanning technology to overcome present limitations of applying Red River Gum annual growth rates as a proxy of MDB hydrological history. Our findings will have application to the last several hundred years and a range of catchments across the MDB and Australia. This research will improve understanding about the impact of climate variability, drought, and climate change on south-eastern Australian rivers.

Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Premier and Cabinet
An integrated instrumental approach for tracking pollution to source
$99,958

Weathering processes tend to change the signatures of environmental samples used for forensic investigations thereby accentuating the difficulty in linking pollutions to their sources. The essence of this project is in the use of multiple sets of increasingly definitive data for matching a sample to its source. Using state-of-the-art analytical techniques, a sample will be analysed, in a dwelling down fashion, a number of times for "marker" compounds and unique "chemical fingerprint" profiles and patterns that can be used for characterising the sample. Central to this study will be the development of the Certainty Index (CI) which can be used for combining the disparate sets of results into a single numeral value for measuring the certainty of pooled information for matching purposes. This research will focus on pollution from organic contaminants, but the procedure can be used elsewhere.

Southern Cross University
Multigenerational impact of climate change on marine life histories
$195,786

New South Wales is a climate change hotspot where the ocean is warming three times the global average and becoming more acidic due to increased CO2. The region's marine resources and associated industries are vulnerable to climate change if species are unable to adapt. Multigenerational experiments with key marine invertebrates reared in near future projected ocean change conditions will determine the potential for adaptation to climate change stressors over successive generations. The outcomes will inform resource managers, industry and the community as they plan, prepare for and work to minimise the impacts of climate change on our marine resources.

 

University of Newcastle
Char from black coal tailings for fertiliser and carbon storage
$99,930

Our project addresses the need to reduce unsustainable land use and pollution, in the form of coal tailings dams on mining leases, at the same time generating a cost-effective and saleable fertiliser delivery method to ameliorate soils, and contributing to onsite energy generation to reduce mine requirements from the grid. Recovering tailings from reject dams frees sterilised land for rehabilitation. Recovered tailings are heat-treated without oxygen, to produce porous chars, like biochar, which deliver fertiliser to soils, for rehabilitation and agricultural purposes. The chars reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions, while aerating the soil, and storing carbon on geological timescales.

University of New England
Biodiversity resilience under climate, land cover and land use change
$150,000

NSW land managers affect the resilience of terrestrial biodiversity by land cover and land use change. Rarely are the impacts of these changes on the resilience of terrestrial biodiversity considered under a changing climate. This project will: synthesise large-scale terrestrial invertebrate biodiversity survey data spanning altitudinal, land cover and land use gradients to understand the independent and combined influences of climate, land cover and land use on the distribution of major elements of terrestrial biodiversity; and, generate experimental data on the physiological tolerances of these same species to better understand their resilience to predicted climate change scenarios for NSW.

University of New South Wales
Dynamically downscaled climate projections for the eastern seaboard
$199,856

Climate models resolve the landscape at coarse spatial scales (-300 kilometres). This means projections of how temperature, rainfall, etc. will change due to increasing carbon dioxide are misaligned with the scales needed by environmental decision makers. We will use the latest very high-resolution modelling to provide state-wide projections at -30 kilometres resolution, and 2-5 kilometres projections for the Blue Mountains and Sydney Metropolitan regions. This data will be made freely available to promote innovative research. We will use them initially to project how climate change will affect bush fire risk in both regions.

University of Sydney
Benchmarks for ecological function in urban ecosystems
$99,882

In a rapidly urbanising world, the ecological viability of remnant vegetation within cities is critical to the conservation of biodiversity in the public eye. Remnant ecosystems are seriously threatened by disruption of the processes that maintain them in a healthy state, especially when key links in the ecological web of relationships are severed. Although the maintenance of these relationships is central to the viability of urban landscapes, there are no clear benchmarks for ecological function in these systems. This work identifies how dominant ecological interactions between insects and plants are compromised by anthropogenic pressures and develops benchmarks for comparing the ecological states of urban remnants.

University of Wollongong
Climate change impacts on bushfire fuels
$196,619

This project will provide a basis to predict future fire behaviour by modelling changes in bushfire fuels in NSW. This will be done by using environmental gradients in rainfall, temperature and rainfall seasonality across south-eastern Australia to infer the direction and magnitude of potential change in fuel conditions. These predicted changes in fuel conditions will then be fed into existing fire behaviour and litter moisture models in order to scrutinise potential changes in fire behaviour, fuel moisture and prescribed burning opportunities. The project will enhance existing collaborations with the CSIRO Climate Change Adaptation Flagship.

University of Wollongong
A rapid pre-screening technique for bioavailable metals in sediment
$79,000

Australia's current sediment quality guidelines (SQG) offer a risk-based approach in which exceeding a SQG value 'triggers' a tiered assessment framework. The framework for metals proceeds from assessing total concentrations, to bioavailability, to effects (toxicity, ecology). However, the use of inadequate tools for assessing bioavailability frequently results in incorrect conclusions, e.g. 'no impact' when effects are clearly occurring to benthic organisms living within the sediment surface layer. Through comparison with whole-sediment chronic toxicity measures, this project will evaluate the diffuse gradients in thin films technique as a robust laboratory and field tool for assessing metal bioavailability.

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Page last updated: 12 October 2011