The Environment and Climate Research Group (ECRG) conduct internationally significant research in hydrology, climatology, palaeoclimatology and landscape modelling. We develop the science and translate it into information or tools that are useful for industry stakeholders or policy makers.


Key Capability 1: Understanding hydroclimatic variability and impacts

A focus of the ECRG is understanding the drivers and impacts of natural climate variability and/or anthropogenic climate change. Of particular interest are hydrological extremes and how these have changed in the past and may change in the future.

Specific areas of expertise include:

  • determining regionally-specific (e.g. catchment scale) impacts of climate variability and/or change
  • seasonal/interannual climate & hydrological forecasting
  • extreme event (e.g. flood, drought, fire) risk analysis
  • physical and statistical climate and hydrological modelling
  • stochastic modelling
  • reconstructing Earth's pre-instrumental history to put observations into context and establish what is "normal"
  • carbonate minerals petrology and geochemistry
  • climate vulnerability assessment to inform adaptation.

Key Capability 2: Climate change adaptation and communication

The damage caused by climate related extremes is significant, and is projected to worsen under anthropogenic climate change. Informed planning and adaptation is required.

Specific areas of expertise include:

  • identifying and understanding the risks and potential impacts of climate variability and human-induced climate change
  • spatial analysis and mapping of climate change risk and vulnerability to natural assets, built infrastructure and settlements
  • development of plausible "what if" scenarios that put climate change and its impacts into context of other critical drivers of change on businesses, infrastructure and communities
  • developing frameworks to enable decision making under uncertainty - "win-win" or "no regrets" climate change adaptation
  • implementing climate change awareness and training programs.

Key Capability 3: Understanding sediment and/or soil carbon movement across the landscape

Soil is a major store of carbon yet little is known about its quantity and location. Improved insights into quantity and location of soil carbon, across a range of different soil types and climates, will help better manage Australia's soils, enhance agricultural productivity, and provide greater knowledge of the ability of soils to store carbon.

Specific areas of expertise include:

  • assessing spatial distribution of soil carbon at catchment scale
  • determining impacts of climate variability on erosion and sediment transport
  • assessing digital elevation model scale and accuracy in relation to hillslope and catchment geomorphology and hydrology
  • the use of remote sensing for the assessment of vegetation cover and soil moisture
  • modelling the impacts of mines on the landscape and mine site rehabilitation.

Current Research Interests

  • Climate change impact and adaptation in the Mekong Delta
  • Investigations into the relationships between tidal fluctuations and historical climatic variations along the Australian coast
  • Factors controlling floods and droughts in the Murray-Darling Basin
  • Utilising insights into climate patterns and causal processes to improve seasonal to multi- decadal hydroclimatic forecasting in South East Australia
  • Quantifying flood risk in the coastal zone: the gap between the knowing and the doing
  • Characterising multi-decadal changes in mid-latitude climate: future implications for Victorian water resources
  • Assessment of General Circulation Model's (GCMs) ability to realistically simulate local and large-scale drivers of natural climate variability in South East Australia
  • East Coast Lows and the Newcastle Pasha Bulker storm
  • Drought and the future of rural communities
  • Investigation of climate of the deep past, from greenhouse to icehouse, using speleothem climate and environmental proxy data

Group members

Professor Silvia Frisia

Conjoint Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Associate Professor Gregory Hancock

Associate Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Associate Professor Anthony Kiem

Associate Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Associate Professor Hannah Power

Associate Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Danielle Verdon-Kidd

Senior Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Professor George Kuczera

Emeritus Professor
School of Engineering

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.