The Australian Research Council announced its latest round of grants on 27th November, with thirteen academics from RSES awarded nine grants: six DPs, one LIEF, and two DECRAs, with a total of $3.889m funding awarded across RSES research groups. Congratulations to these worthy recipients, we look forward to seeing the outcomes of these various research projects.
DISCOVERY PROJECTS (DP)
Dr Paul Tregoning; Dr Simon McClusky; Dr Srinivas Bettadpur:
GRACE follow-on: validation of measurements and initial results.
This project aims to advance knowledge to quantify ongoing mass loss of Earth’s polar ice caps and glaciers, increases in sea level, and changes in continental water storage. The project expects to improve the capability to monitor changes on Earth using satellites and to enhance analysis by exploiting data from new instrumentation on the GRACE Follow-On space gravity mission, due for launch in 2018. Expected results aim to improve computational tools and to develop expertise to analyse the new data. Other expected outcomes include reliable methods to monitor significant sea-level rise and associated societal and economic disruptions.
Associate Professor Andrew Berry; Professor Greg Yaxley; Professor Andrea Gerson; Associate Professor Carl Spandler:
The geochemistry of rare earth elements in carbonate melts.
This project aims to determine why deposits of rare earth elements, which are critical for modern devices and technologies such as phones, tablets and plasma screens, are associated with carbonate magmas. The global supply of these critical metals is geopolitically unstable and, although Australia has significant reserves, there is very limited production. By improving our understanding of the geochemical behaviour of the rare earths this project aims to develop new reverse-engineering methods for their extraction, which will improve the security of supply of these elements and enhance Australia's role in high-tech industries. The project will enhance the profitability of the Australian resources sector through improved extraction economics and will secure the supply of these critical metals for Australian high-tech industries and export. The outcomes will be targeted initially at junior resource companies that are not yet profitable.
Professor Andrew Roberts; Dr David Heslop; Dr Janice Scealy:
A new generation of palaeomagnetic statistics.
This project aims to build on recent advances in statistical inference to develop a new quantitative framework for palaeomagnetism. Palaeomagnetic analysis of Earth's ancient magnetic field helps us to derive plate tectonic reconstructions and to use geomagnetic reversals to date rock sequences. These applications depend on statistical methods that are either flawed or that lack sufficient diagnostic power to be useful for addressing increasingly complex questions. Expected outcomes are an urgently needed new generation of palaeomagnetic statistical analysis methods. The project will provide quantitative tools that will benefit all palaeomagnetic applications across Earth Science and have widespread benefit and impact in academic and industrial research.
Professor Michael Roderick; Dr Callum Shakespeare
Limits to ocean surface temperature in future climates.
This project aims to investigate whether ocean surface temperatures can increase beyond the 35 degree centigrade threshold for the survival of humans and many other mammal species. Climate models predict that ocean surface temperatures will exceed 35 degree centigrade in parts of the middle east and throughout much of South East Asia in as little as 50 years. This project will use a series of laboratory experiments to test whether parts of the ocean surface can be warmed beyond this limit under natural conditions. Expected outcomes of this project are a new understanding of what sets the maximum surface temperature of the ocean, thereby allowing us to determine whether coastal regions of the humid tropics and sub-tropics will remain habitable for humans and other mammal species in the near future.
Dr Yuri Amelin; Professor Qing-Zhu Yin;
The history of accretion in our Solar System.
This project aims to determine precise timing of formation and primary melting of asteroids of various compositions, and to trace the stellar sources and mixing processes that caused the compositional diversity of asteroids and planets in our Solar System. This can be attained by comprehensive study of achondrites, meteorites derived from asteroids that were once partially melted. Using the world’s foremost facilities for cosmochemical research in Australia and the United States of America, the processes leading to the formation of planets will be explored. This project is intended to advance fundamental knowledge of the environment in which planets emerge and evolve, and the place of our Solar System among planetary systems in the Galaxy.
Associate Professor Jimin Yu; Professor Robert Anderson; Professor Zhangdong Jin; Professor Nicolas Thouveny;
Deep Atlantic’s role in millennial atmospheric carbon dioxide changes.
This project aims to fill in a critical knowledge gap in global carbon cycle research, by generating the first high-resolution deep Atlantic carbonate ion and nutrient records for the last 150,000 years. The project will derive air-sea carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange signals, which permit straightforward evaluation of the deep Atlantic’s role in millennial atmospheric CO2 changes under various climate conditions. The intended outcome of this project is to substantially improve our understanding of the mechanisms that govern the global carbon cycle. This should provide significant benefits including the assessment of models used to predict future global warming due to anthropogenic CO2.
DISCOVERY EARLY CAREER RESEARCHER AWARD (DECRA)
Dr Caroline Eakin
What's shaking down under?
This project aims to determine the underlying cause of recent earthquake activity in central Australia. Of all the stable continents, Australia is surprisingly seismically active, with intra-plate earthquakes occurring relatively frequently. However, these are unpredictable, placing lives and infrastructure at risk. This project offers the opportunity to use a new seismic experiment to improve detection of small events that may warn of a more dangerous earthquake to come, and provide sub-surface imaging of the hidden crustal boundaries and faults that are ultimately responsible. Benefits will include improved hazard assessment, and a new predictive model for exploration that relates regional seismicity, crustal faults, and mineral systems.
Dr Katharine Grant Long-term variability of the Australian monsoon. This project aims to address large uncertainties in Australia’s hydroclimate projections, by reconstructing Australian monsoon variability over the past three million years. The project expects to generate new knowledge to quantify the frequency and amplitudes of extreme rainfall and drought in Northwest Australia. By providing essential new information about the timing, frequency, and intensity of past drought and extreme rainfall, the project is expected to enable more accurate climate projections required for effective adaptation and mitigation. This project will also benefit the Australian archaeology community, by providing a much-needed environmental context for mapping Australian pre-history.
Professor Adrienne Nicotra; Professor Justin Borevitz; Professor Eelco Rohling; Associate Professor Geoffrey Cary; Professor Angela Moles; Associate Professor Mark Hovenden; Associate Professor Ben Kefford; Professor Don Driscoll; Dr Susanna Venn; Associate Professor William Cornwell; Professor David Keith; Dr Marta Yebra; Dr Gregory Summerell
Australian mountain environmental research infrastructure facility.
This project aims to establish the Australian Mountain Research Infrastructure Facility (AMRIF). The facility will catalyse and support world-leading ecosystem, evolutionary and biophysical science to engage and build capacity of decision makers responsible for managing Australia's mountains. Australia's High Mountains provide critical water supply, clean energy, unique biodiversity, recreation and education opportunities but face an ecological crisis from climate and land use change. The AMIRF will bring together leading institutions and researchers to produce world-leading ecosystem, evolutionary and biophysical science to guide adaptive management of High Mountains across Australia. It will support research to assess the extent and effects of changing climate, water and fire regimes on ecosystem processes and their feedback, and provide a structure for integrated research, management and governance of Australia's mountains.