Prof. Garry Willgoose
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 6050|
|Fax||(02) 4921 6991|
School of Engineering
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||EA131, Engineering A|
My most important research contributions have been (1) the development of the SIBERIA landform evolution model and the computational techniques underpinning its high performance for my PhD in 1989, (2) the subsequent research insights on landscape optimality and equilibria arising from its physics and (3) applications of data assimilation methodologies to the estimation and prediction of hydrology and soil moisture in the field with remote sensing and field instrumentation. The development of SIBERIA is generally asserted to have reinvigorated the field of geomorphology. One finding from SIBERIA was a process explanation for the observed relationship between slope and catchment area for hillslopes and channels. This technique has become a standard tool for interpreting process in the field, and barely a month goes by without a new paper on the relationship. In recent years the research emphasis has shifted. Recent SIBERIA developments have been in geomorphic model testing and pioneering applications of landform evolution modelling in the mining and hazardous waste containment industries. In the waste containment field I have been a pioneer in using landform evolution models to assess the long-term safety of waste containment structures and SIBERIA is currently being used to assess mine tailings structures by consultants and research agencies around the world, and nuclear waste facilities in the USA, most notably at the Los Alamos National Lab. Software developed in the soil moisture data assimilation work has been incorporated into the NASA Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS) used for weather and climate forecasting at NASA.
- PhD (Hydrology), Massachusetts Institute of Technology - USA, 1989
- Master of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - USA, 1987
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), University of Newcastle, 1981
- Bachelor of Science, University of Newcastle, 1981
- climate change adaptation
- mining environmental impacts
- operations research
- remote sensing
My focus is on understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of drivers of hydrology and erosion. This includes landforms, soils, vegetation, soil moisture, and fire. Founding work on the use of remote sensed soil moisture data in hydrology and climate forecast models by data assimilation.
I am developer of the internationally renowned SIBERIA landscape evolution model. This model has been incorporated into our EAMS environmental assessment package for use in assessment of long-term stability of mine rehabilitation, tailing facilities, and harzardous and nuclear waste containment structures. It is used worldwide.
The focus of my research is in computational environmental dynamics, using process based models as numerical laboratories to better understand spatial and temporal variability in environmental processes. There are four main initiatives: Hydrogeomorphology, Soil Pedogensesis, Soil Moisture, Eco-hydrology and Computing.
Hydrogeomorphology: This program has been the original focus of my research and forms the core of many of my projects. The main emphasis has been the fundamental research program that has been aimed at understanding why landforms look the way they do. For instance, how do the runoff and erosion physics shape the landform and what can the landform shape (i.e. geomorphology) tell us about the physics that shaped it? Is it possible to measure the runoff, erosion and paleoclimate simply by analysing the landforms and stratigraphy? The main tool for doing this work has been the development the SIBERIA landform evolution computer that simulates the runoff and erosion on a landform and can simulate the evolution of that landform and depositional structures on the basis of that predicted erosion.
Soil Moisture: One of the major unknowns in flood hydrology is how wet a catchment is, or will be, before a rainfall event. Soil moisture varies dramatically in space and time and has in the past been difficult to measure. New developments in remote sensing from satellites and relatively inexpensive electronic measurement techniques promise to revolutionise flood prediction if we know how to use the data in our models. My work has concentrated on using the remote sensing and ground instrumentation to estimate catchment average soil moisture by combining soil moisture physics and statistical techniques based on Kalman filtering, and validation of these estimates using ground truth data sets.
Soils Dynamics and Pedogenesis: In the complex distributed hydrology and erosion models discussed above it is generally assumed that the soil properties are the same everywhere. We know, however, that they are quite variable in space and strongly coupled with the spatial pattern of soil moisture. Yet there are no practical technologies to measure soil properties in sufficient detail. If we were able to model soil development, in the same way as SIBERIA can model landform evolution, then we could better understand how soils vary in space and develop simple models for soil spatial properties. We have had some significant success in predicting the spatial distribution of soil depth and spatial distribution of near surface soil grading. Current activities are further exploring spatial organization, pedogenesis, soil organic carbon dynamics and prediction of phosphorus limitation.
Eco-hydrology: In hydrology vegetation effects are generally considered by using remote sensing data to determine species distribution and density, and then applying known species hydrology. We are beginning to understand that many important properties cannot be determined this way. For instance, rooting depth is known to impact on seasonal estimates of transpiration and cannot be estimated from remote sensing, yet it is a very important component of the land-atmosphere interaction in climate models. Our research group is currently focusing on modelling vegetation pattern development in arid areas. The ultimate aim is to develop a model that can predict changes in vegetation pattern and knock-on runoff capture so as to be able to assess the effect of climate change on runoff generation in our highly sensitive arid regions.
Computing: Many of the projects above involve complex computer models that require supercomputer resources to run. One landform simulation can easily take days on a high end workstation. For some time I have used innovative computational techniques to solve these problems (e.g. PVM, MPI-2 and openMP).
Fields of Research
|040601||Geomorphology And Regolith And Landscape Evolution||40|
|090599||Civil Engineering Not Elsewhere Classified||30|
|090799||Environmental Engineering Not Elsewhere Classified||30|
Centres and Groups
Body relevant to professional practice.
- Member - DECCW (NSW) Climate Change Adpatation Science Network
Committee/Associations (relevant to research).
- Editor - Geomorphology Committee, European Geophysical Union
- Editor - Advances in Water Resources
- Editor - Water Resources Research
Fellowship APF (level D E)
Australian Research Council (Australia)
|01/01/2006 - 01/12/2010|
Lorenz Straub Award for most distinguished PhD in hydraulics worldwide
St Anthony Falls Hydraulics Lab, Uni of Minnesota (United States)
The leading award worldwide for PhD research in hydraulics and water resources. I am only one of only two Australians to have been awarded this award.
Australian Professorial Fellowship (Full Time)
Australian Research Council (Australia)
This award reflects my preeminent standing in the Austyralian research community in water and climate research. One of only 10 full time awards given in 2006 (there were also 15 part time awards). The application success rate was comparable with that of a Federation Fellowship (<10%).
Australian Water Research Advisory Council Fellowship
Department of Primary Industry, Australia (Australia)
This award was designed to attract leading junior water researchers back to Australia and is one of only three fellowships awarded nationwide in 1989.
Assessment of the Erosional Stability of Encapsulation Caps and Covers at the Millennial Timescale: Current Capabilities, Research Issues and Operational Needs
US Nuclear Regulatory Commision, United States (Conference Presentation - non published.)
Landform evolution models: The interface between climate, process and sedimentology
British Sedimentology Research Group Annual Meeting, United Kingdom (Conference Presentation - non published.)
Sustainability of rehabilitated mined landforms
Centre for Mining Rehabilitation, Bradenburg University, Germany (Conference Presentation - non published.)
Deputy director and co-founder of the Earth and Biosphere Institute (EBI) at the University of Leeds, UK. This centre (funded by the University and EU) pulled together researchers from Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geography and Ecosystems Dynamics to look at the terrestrial impact of climate change.
- mining environmental impacts
- operations research
I have taught courses in both Civil and Engineering Engineering and
Geography Departments and undergraduate and Masters level. They include