Extreme events in the Pacific Islands: Climatic, hydrological and geomorphic perspectives
About the Event:
The Pacific Ocean has always been an exciting frontier for geoscientific research. Within its vast region lie thousands of islands that display remarkable physical diversity, ranging from fragments of ancient Gondwanaland, to young volcanic mountains, emerged carbonate platforms and tiny (ephemeral) coral islets built just above sea level on Holocene reef foundations. The most extreme meteorological conditions experienced by island environments occur during tropical cyclones-torrential precipitation, powerful storm surge and erosive waves. The resulting physical impacts may have profound implications for island communities, as well as for long-term island evolution. Yet, the processes leading to geomorphic adjustment and the landscape effects themselves remain imperfectly understood, in part due to the challenges involved in studying remote and isolated island locations.
This presentation will provide a snapshot of research carried out by the speaker over two decades across Oceania and neighboring seas (the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea). Findings will be drawn from Fiji, The Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Samoa, Taiwan, Thailand, Vanuatu, Vietnam and elsewhere, to describe various hydrological and geomorphic responses to extreme events in river systems, hill slopes, coral reefs, lagoons and coastlines. Case studies on volcanic, limestone and atoll islands will demonstrate the importance of interdisciplinary approaches, and integrating field methods and modelling, to better understand earth surface dynamics in the region. Some classic paradigms in physical geography will be revisited to introduce new metrics, recent contributions and emerging ideas in tropical Pacific geoscience.
About the Speaker:
Professor James Terry received his PhD in Physical Geography in 1992 from the University of Wales at Swansea in the UK. Most of his career has been spent in the Asia–Pacific region. Previous academic positions include at the University of Exeter in the UK, the University of the South Pacific in Fiji (where he served as Head of the School of Geography) and the National University of Singapore. He has also spent visiting periods at the Government Department of Agriculture in Perth (Australia), Sydney University (Australia), Kagoshima University (Japan), and the University of Guelph (Canada). Currently, he is based at Zayed University, a progressive women’s university in Dubai, UAE.
As a field‐based geomorphologist, James has over three decades of research experience in coastal & fluvial geomorphology (especially in tropical and mediterranean environments); natural hazards & extreme events; hydrology & water resources; slope processes & soil erosion. He has particular interests in island physical environments. As befits his physical geography background, James’ publication record embraces a wide range of geoscience sub‐disciplines, spanning across geomorphology, climatology, hydrology and soils. Authored and co‐edited books include Tropical Cyclones: Climatology and Impacts in the South Pacific (2007: Springer) and Natural Hazards in the Asia–Pacific Region (2012: Geol. Soc. London). Recent responsibilities have included Treasurer and founding Section President of Interdisciplinary Geosciences for the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS) (2012‐14), member of the founding Editorial Board of Geoscience Letters (Springer), and Chair of the Steering Group on Natural Hazards & Disaster Risk (SGNHDR) for the International Council of Science (ICSU–ROAP) (2013 to present).