Science and Engineering

Environmental systems

Overview

How do we approach environmental systems?

Our discipline focuses on connections between human activities and the environment, drawing on our interdisciplinary strengths in soils and geomorphology, hydrogeology, flora and fauna studies, regional ecosystems, community engagement and environmental engineering, and spatial mapping. Our research and teaching adopts an applied systems approach to investigate development interactions and implications for decision-makers across government, industry and the private sector.

Research

We take an integrated systems approach to both natural and modified (agricultural and urban) environments, human interactions and societal impacts. Our goals are to apply sustainable management practices and find innovative solutions to address complex real-world problems.

Our research is interdisciplinary and incorporates science and engineering, which includes spatial mapping, hydrology, regional ecosystems, community engagement and environmental engineering, all in both field and laboratory applications.

Important in all this work is spatial mapping and data collection. Mapping enables visual representation of measurements in 2D, 3D and 4D; data collection and monitoring enables systematic analysis and modelling. An understanding of time-space relationships is crucial.

A key factor is the understanding of the Earth's surface, its materials and properties, the behaviour of soil and water, the range of natural and induced modifications and hazards, and utilisation of a wide variety of techniques to measure, assess and model processes.

Our research and teaching has an applied approach to environmental systems, to provide solutions and to support decision-makers across government, industry and the private sector. Our outcomes have local, national and international significance.

Projects

The Category 1 funded research projects we are currently leading are:

Composting as a means of minimising greenhouse gas emissions from the manure supply chain

Project leader
Dr David Rowlings
Dates
2013-2016
Project summary

Grant to investigate manure composting as a practice for minimising greenhouse gas emissions from intensive livestock industries and the manure supply chain. The project is comparing composting and stockpiling of manures to quantify reduction of methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

It will provide emission factors that could be used to improve Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The project will also determine the potential to reduce nitrous oxide emissions through the application of composted instead of raw manures.

Can advances in mid-term forecasts reduce emissions from nitrogen fertiliser?

Project leaders
Dr Clemens Scheer
Associate Professor Beverley Henry
Dates
2013-2016
Project summary
Grant to investigate whether advances in mid-term weather forecasts can better inform farm management practices that will reduce emissions from nitrogen fertiliser. The project is also assessing how different fertiliser regimes can be used to mitigate nitrous oxide emissions under both short and longer term climate forecast scenarios.

A simple indicator of potential N2O loss from soil

Project leaders
Dr Iurii Shcherbak
Adjunct Professor Bruno Basso
Dates
2013-2016
Project summary
Grant to quantify the relationship between active carbon and potential nitrous oxide loss in a laboratory situation. A rapid in-field soil test will be developed to assess the suitability of soil type for nitrous oxide reducing practices in the field.

Interdisciplinary and inter-institution projects

Some of the projects we are contributing to with other disciplines and institutions are:

  • Mitigation of nitrous oxide emissions in the national vegetable industry, 2013-2016, Dr Clemens Scheer
  • Developmental engineering education in the primary school, 2012-2015, Professor Les Dawes
  • Quantifying nitrous oxide losses and nitrogen use efficiency gains cropping systems on clay soils with contrasting soil carbon status and land management, 2012-2015, Dr David Rowlings, Dr Clemens Scheer.

Student topics

Are you looking to further your career by pursuing study at a higher and more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research these topics:

Partnerships

Environmental studies cover a wide range of applications and partners. Listed below are some key partnerships:

Greenhouse gases and sustainable agriculture

Groundwater and water systems

Water management

Environmental engineering and sustainable development

Spatial science and resilient landscapes

Contact

School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences

  • Level 3, R Block, Room 302
    Gardens Point