The impact of salinity and climate change on the world's wetlands

Tuesday, 28 September 2004

The University of Adelaide is to host an International Workshop in Victoria on approaches to assess the impact of humans on saline lakes.

The workshop will run from 30 September to 3 October in Mildura and among the outcomes will be the prioritisation of research across the globe under the workshop theme.

Titled "LIMPACS: Climate, Salinity and Salinisation", the workshop will bring together many of the leading researchers in the world that integrate historical and modern approaches to reveal salinity changes to lake ecosystems.

LIMPACS is a principal activity of the Past Ecosystems and Human-Environment Interactions focus of the International Geosphere-Biosphere programme PAGES (Past Global Changes).

"The emphasis of the workshop is in research tracing changes to lake ecosystems over the last 500 years to provide insights into their present condition," says Dr Peter Gell, convenor of the workshop and a Senior Lecturer in Geographical & Environmental Studies at the University of Adelaide.

"Mildura is an ideal venue as its landscape has lived with salt for many thousands of years, yet recent human activities have mobilised the salts and brought them to the surface," Dr Gell says.

"Complicating that cause and effect is the issue of climate change, and it promises to be the joker in the deck when it comes to managing salinity."

Leading researchers from Argentina, Canada, China, France, India, UK, USA and Australia will present at the meeting. Visitors will travel from Adelaide, via the South Australian Riverland, examining wetland salinity management issues en route to, and around, Mildura.

In addition, the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology is supporting a special session to examine the extent to which Australian aquatic ecosystems will be impacted by the present phase of elevated wetland salinity.

"The session is a great opportunity for knowledge exchange with overseas specialists feeding experiences directly into local management. I am also sure that the River Murray will pose some special Australian challenges that the visitors can take home with them," Dr Gell says.

Special commentaries are available from:

  • Professor Rick Battarbee, Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London (the importance of long term understanding to management)
  • Dr Sheri Fritz, University of Nebraska (salinity and climate changes)
  • Dr Kate Laird, Queens University, Ontario, (drought frequencies)
  • Dr Phillip Macumber, Earth Science, University of Melbourne (groundwater processes)
  • Professor Jim Bowler, Earth Science, University of Melbourne (salt in the Australian landscape)
  • Dr Roger Jones, CSIRO Atmospheric Science, Melbourne (future climate modelling)


Contact Details

Dr Peter Gell
Senior Lecturer
Geographical & Environmental Studies
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 4774
Mobile: 0427 870 280

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814