#13 Thinking Space Seminar Series w/ Rebecca Hamilton & Tegan Hall

Wednesday June 2015 4.00 - 5.00PM

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Madsen Room 449, The University of Sydney



School of Geosciences, University of Sydney

Geographers and the Environment

Thinking Space is the Geography Seminar Series of the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. The following seminars are open to everyone interested in current innovations in geographical research and cutting edge trends in socio- spatial theory.

Rebecca Hamilton (Geosciences) |“A palaeo-approach to assessing the resilience of south-east Asian dry forests to monsoon extremes”

Predictions that the frequency and intensity of monsoon extremes will rise in coming decades are being made with increasing confidence. There is concern that these climatic changes may drive tropical monsoon forests across critical thresholds, triggering ecological regime shifts. The global consequences of such shifts, coupled with knowledge gaps around the nature and intensity of drivers needed to instigate ecosystem reorganization, highlights the need for research that analyses the response of these seasonal forests to future climatic change. While work has indicated that these forests may be susceptible to reorganization to savanna under changing precipitation regimes, the interactions between climatic drivers and ecosystem response is still poorly understood, particularly in lowland seasonal forests outside of the neo- and afro-tropics. This study presents results on the threshold dynamics of the south-east Asian seasonally dry tropical forest ecoregion (SASDTF) through analysis of plant microfossils and charcoal archived in sediment cores extracted from two tropical crater lakes in Cambodia. These data are compared with regional paleo-climatic and paleo-ecological reconstructions to gauge past forest response to monsoon extremes, and provide insight into the magnitude and duration of climatic events most likely to result in the breaching of critical thresholds..

Rebecca Hamilton is a PhD candidate. Her project seeks to retrospectively assess how mainland south-east Asian dry forests have responded to variations in monsoon intensity since the mid-Holocene in order to gauge how resilient or sensitive they may be to future changes of a similar magnitude. This will be achieved by establishing proxy records of ecological, land use and climatic change from the application of palynological techniques to sediment cores extracted from several closed-catchment crater lakes in the Ratanakiri province of north-east Cambodia.

Tegan Hall (Geosciences) | Iron and Fire: geoarchaeological history of a Khmer industrial city during the decline of the Angkor Kingdom

Tegan Hall is a PhD candidate. Her project aims to employ a systems theory approach in the analysis of the devolution of complex, low-density societies. Using the Khmer Empire as a case study, it will investigate the power of a subset of systems theory – network theory – in explaining the structural and spatial disintegration of the kingdom. This project will use palaeoenvironmental techniques to reconstruct landscape histories (and from which infer settlement occupation histories) of a number of peripheral settlements throughout the kingdom from the beginning of the Angkor period to the Empire’s collapse, and onward through Cambodia’s transition to modernity. Moving beyond the reductionist approach of causal correlation models and toward one that captures the broader, dynamic principles at work in human-environment systems (without ignoring the more complex and multivariant inputs specific to each case) will provide necessary insight into the resiliency or vulnerability of complex societies and contribute to the understanding of the processes governing complex systems in general.

For more information on any of the events below, please contact:
Billy Haworth – billy.haworth@sydney.edu.au