I lead research on evaluating the impact of coal seam gas (CSG) and coal mining on groundwater and air. At present I am coordinating research on assessing the impact of CSG developments in the Surat Basin and Condamine Catchments, and quantifying the extent of connectivity between the Great Artesian Basin and the lower Namoi alluvium adjacent to the Pilliga CSG development.
My major research activities include:
- measuring the greenhouse footprint of coal seam gas, coal mining, natural landscapes, agriculture and urban environments
- mapping connectivity between coal measures and fresh water aquifers using isotopes
- quantifying aquifer depressurisation impacts on sustainable water use and ecosystems.
Recently, we have made extensive measurements of the major greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) throughout NSW and Qld. This has been achieved using a combination of continuous measurements using a car mounted greenhouse gas analyser and by collecting ambient air samples for later analysis in our isotope laboratory. This research is affiliated with the UNEP Methane Science Studies.
In the Greenhouse Gas Measurement laboratory we can analyse the isotopic composition of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide gases. Isotope analyses help attribute the sources of greenhouse gases measured in ambient air samples and gases stripped from groundwater.
Summaries on our CSG related research are presented in our EGU abstracts:
Lu et al. (2020) Methane Source Attribution Challenges in the Surat Basin, Australia https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2020/EGU2020-12508.html
Kelly et al. (2020) Urban Methane Surveys – A Case Study Where Isotope Measurements Guided Source Attribution. https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-12475
Kelly et al. (2015) Fugitive methane emissions from natural, urban, agricultural, and energy-production landscapes of eastern Australia http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2015/EGU2015-5135.pdf
Iverach et al. (2015) Assessing the hydraulic connection between fresh water aquifers and unconventional gas production using methane and stable isotopes http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2015/EGU2015-3284-1.pdf
I also undertake research on the effectiveness of water sharing plans, improving water use efficiency in agriculture, regional groundwater management, the evolution of alluvial sedimentary systems, and on karst landscape processes.
Goal 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Goal 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
I have written educational pieces on the need for research on CSG in The Conversation and Australian Geographic, and I contributed to the recent NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer background reports and reviews on CSG.
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences http://www.bees.unsw.edu.au
Connected Water Initiative Research Centre http://www.connectedwaters.unsw.edu.au
Centre for Ecosystems Science https://www.ecosystem.unsw.edu.au
Earth and Sustainability Science Research Centre http://www.essrc.unsw.edu.au
- Millicent Crowe - Mapping groundwater resources using AEM
- Stephen Harris - Assessing the off farm movement of nitrogen fertilisers (joint supervisor with Dr Dioni Cendon ANSTO)
- Xinyi Lu - Quantifying the isotopic signature of greenhouse gas sources
- Shuang Xiao - AI methods for forecasting groundwater levels (joint supervisor with Dr Dioni Cendon ANSTO)
- Mark Hocking - Impulse response modelling of aquifer recharge and Analytic Element modelling of CSG production impacts
- Charlotte Iverach (joint supervisor with Dr Dioni Cendon ANSTO)
- Dane Burkett (co-supervisor, supervisor Ian Graham)
- Scott Cook (co-supervisor, supervisor Wendy Timms)
- Mohammadreza Keshavarzi (co-supervisor, supervisor Andy Baker)
- Calvin Li (co-supervisor, supervisor Martin Andersen)
- Jie Yan (Jack) (co-supervisor, supervisor Paul Lennox)
The Connected Water Initiative Research Centre, UNSW Australia, is seeking high-quality international and domestic applicants to apply for PhD positions. Applicants must have a 1st class honours degree (or equivalent), or a higher degree (MSc or MRes) and evidence of research experience. The international scholarships are highly competitive. Ideally the candidate will have an outstanding undergraduate degree from a top 100 University on the QS, Times, or Shanghai Jao Tong rankings. The candidate will have one or more first author journal papers in a leading journal. All applicants must develop a short research proposal with their potential supervisor. International applicants must also meet English language qualifications.
Details on International scholarships are located here: http://research.unsw.edu.au/international-research-candidate-scholarships
Details on Domestic scholarships are located here http://research.unsw.edu.au/domestic-research-candidate-scholarships
For studies in the biogeosciences with particular reference to: the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands, estuaries, urban settings, coal mining and gas production; measuring and modelling terrestrial biosphere-atmosphere fluxes of water, CO2, CH4 and N20; using stable isotopes as tracers, please send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the next century there will be unprecedented pressures on the environment (particularly on water, soil and air) due to global warming and increasing population. There is a critical need to measure greenhouse gas emissions, so that their generation can be managed. Australia is large and we need many people involved to improve our understanding of water and gas movement throughout the landscape. Being involved in measuring water movement and sources and sinks of greenhouse gases is one way you can make a positive contribution to managing the impacts of global warming. UNSW is at the forefront of measuring gases and their isotopic compositions. Within our gas lab we have:
- Picarro G2132-i Analyser for δ13C for methane
- Picarro G1101-i Analyser for δ13C for carbon dioxide
- Los Gatos Research Isotopic N2O Analyser (site-specific δ15N, δ18O and N2O)
- Los Gatos Research Ultraportable Greenhouse Gas Analyser (CH4, CO2, H2O)
- Los Gatos Research dissolved gas extraction unit
We also have access to facilities within the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre: http://www.analytical.unsw.edu.au
And we work closely with the Institute for Environmental Research at ANSTO: http://www.ansto.gov.au/ResearchHub/IER/
The Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre has a wide variety of near-surface geophysical and hydrological measurement systems: http://www.connectedwaters.unsw.edu.au
GEOS1111 Fundamentals of Geology
GEOS2291 Earth's Systems and Sustainability
GEOS6733 Environmental Geophysics
Member - American Geophysical Union
Member – European Geosciences Union
Member – International Association of Hydrogeology
Finalist, 2011 Eureka Prize in the category “National Water Commission Professor Peter Cullen Eureka Prize for Water Research and Innovation”.
Cotton Catchment Communities CRC – Achiever of the month award for “The development of a new approach for constructing 3D conceptual hydrogeological models of catchments”. September 2010.
Cotton Catchment Communities CRC - Science and Innovation award for “The Development of Electrical Imaging Techniques for Soil Water Monitoring”, 2007
Major Research Projects/Grants