Geography Blue Box Seminar
Friday, Nov. 25, 3-4 p.m.
Searching for climate change solutions in Newfoundland’s urban forests
Urban forests provide municipalities with a suite of benefits and services, and help mitigate the effects of climate change; however, they are increasingly vulnerable to warming climates. The island of Newfoundland (NL) provides a unique natural laboratory to study the impacts of continued winter warming, with a gradient of winter climates spanning the island – from reliably cold temperatures with few high wind days in the west, to milder temperatures with frequent high wind days in the east – reflecting the future winter conditions predicted for densely populated areas of Canada. Using this natural laboratory, we characterize the impact of NL urban forests on summer temperatures; however, microclimatic influences on winter appear to be dominated by other factors (e.g., wind exposure). Structural and ecological characteristics of urban forests changed throughout the urban ecosystem, influencing how closely different urban forest regions resemble natural forests, and amplifying the need for alternative indicators of ecological integrity that better reflect their sociocultural influences. This research provides important empirical findings on the relationship between urban forests and urban ecosystems in NL, highlighting the need for more intentional management and planning to ensure the longevity of urban forests and their benefits into the future.
The formation and evolution of Caribbean coral reef islands
Northumbria University, UK
Coral reef islands are environmentally high-profile landforms yet are also considered to be one of the most vulnerable environments to the impacts of climate change, particularly to sea-level rise and coral reef degradation. Recent research into the past formation and evolution of reef islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans, over a range of timescales, has provided some indication as to how these landforms will respond to future environmental change. However, to date, no such research has been undertaken for any reef islands in the Caribbean. The region thus represents a knowledge gap that is compromising our ability to accurately predict the future trajectories of reef islands both locally, and globally. Initial shoreline change analysis conducted on 16 reef islands throughout Cayos Cochinos and Utila, Northern Honduras, has revealed somewhat surprising patterns of reef island behavior. Conversely, 89% of reef islands in Cayos Cochinos reduced in size (-0.14 Ha area change) and predominantly experienced shoreline erosion, but over a shorter period between 2018 and 2021; thus, providing an interesting perspective of contrasting Caribbean reef island evolution over two timescales. Additional data in the form of sediment cores, coral reef ecological surveys, and drone imagery has also been recently collected for Morgan’s and Water Cays (Utila), and Paloma Cay (Cayos Cochinos). This data will be used to reconstruct Holocene Caribbean reef island formation; identify the timing, controls, and modes of reef island evolution over millennial-to-weekly timescales; and investigate the relationship between reef islands and local coral reef ecology.
In this seminar, Emi will give an overview of her PhD research so far, provide some initial results regarding contemporary reef island evolution, and outline the 3D modelling and sediment budget work she is hoping to undertake at MUN.
Presented by Department of Geography