Environment

  1. » The 'New Zealand model' of sex work regulation: An examination of its development, circulation, and international impact
  2. » A global review of volcanic hazard maps
  3. » The carbon balance of urban green spaces
  4. » Technology in citizen science for strengthening resilience to natural hazards: an initial study of the participatory process
  5. » Participatory numbers for disaster risk reduction: a case study in the Philippines
  6. » Assessing the engineering geology and geomorphology of landslides in the Auckland region
  7. » How high are the low islands? Validating radar-derived digital elevation models in atoll settings.
  8. » Sediment transport along a gravel barrier, Hawkes Bay
  9. » Imagineering the New Zealand Diaspora
  10. » Understanding the eruption mechanisms of Qdir Volcano, Saudi Arabia
  11. » Three Kings – our largest and most explosive volcano
  12. » Hunga-Haapai, Hunga-Tonga the worlds youngest (and possibly most temporary) volcano
  13. » Patterns of landscape incision: an inventory of gully mass wasting features in NZ’s East Cape
  14. » Investigating natural hazard and risk map reading behaviour and decision-making
  15. » Urban air quality and population exposure
  16. » Human impacts on lakes and their catchments – the sedimentary record
  17. » Environmental decision making in New Zealand: who are the elected decision makers in New Zealand's land and sea interface
  18. » Climate Change Adaptation in Context
  19. » Modelling rainfall-runoff using GIS
  20. » Observing and/as education for sustainability – the rediscovery of open days as public experiments
  21. » Representations of social license in invasive species management
  22. » Structural Geology Model of the Auckland Isthmus
  23. » Playing with fire: examining variations in the heat output of Yasur volcano
  24. » Suspended opportunities – Mataitai, Taiapure and the public contestation of Maori environmental preferences
  25. » Mapping historical and contemporary urban agriculture practices in Auckland

The 'New Zealand model' of sex work regulation: An examination of its development, circulation, and international impact


Supervisor

Dr Tom Baker

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI113

The regulation of sex work is a topic of intense and conflictual public debate. Such debates often involve calls to ‘import’ policy models associated with other cities and nations. Since decriminalising sex work in 2003, New Zealand’s approach to sex work regulation has been promoted and debated as a model for other nations to adopt. As the only nation-state to have decriminalised sex work, the ‘New Zealand model’ has become synonymous with the recognition of sex work as a choice and legitimate profession, and with improving the rights and working conditions of sex workers. This research project—led by researchers based at the University of Auckland and Northumbria University—examines the historical development, international circulation, and international impact of the New Zealand model of sex work regulation. The Summer Research Scholar will be responsible for analysing media coverage, reports, policy documents, and parliamentary proceedings to discern key themes, events, and issues. The Summer Research Scholar will produce a ‘policy brief’ based on their analysis of secondary materials.

The Summer Scholar will have an interest in social policy, as well as an interest in further developing their analytical and report writing skills.

A global review of volcanic hazard maps


Supervisor

Jan Lindsay

Mary Anne Thompson

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI114

We are conducting a survey to collect data about official, published volcanic hazard maps from around the world. The survey asks questions about map content and design, as well as questions about the development process. The responses will be used to describe and summarise current practices in volcanic hazard map development. By summer we hope to have the first batch of data ready for processing. We are looking for a numerate student who has skills in collating and interpreting both qualitative and quantitative survey data. The survey is powered by Qualtrics, so experience with this platform would be ideal. A knowledge of Spanish would be advantageous but not critical.

The carbon balance of urban green spaces


Supervisor

Dr Luitgard Schwendenmann

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI115

Urban green spaces, which include urban forests, parks and sports fields, provide a range of ecosystem services (e.g., microclimate and runoff regulation, carbon sequestration, recreation, etc.).

To assess the potential of urban green spaces to mitigate local carbon dioxide emissions we need to understand the carbon balance of these urban ecosystems. The objectives of this project are: 1. to quantify the ecosystem carbon exchange, 2. to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions (N2O, CH4 and CO2) and 3. to determine the factors influencing carbon uptake and loss of grass dominated urban green spaces. The student will help with all field measurements, collect and analyse soil and gas samples, analyse the data and write a report.

Skills required: Basic understanding of ecosystem processes (e.g. completed ENVSCI 201 or equivalent), ability to work independently as well as within a group, experience in fieldwork, enjoyment of outdoor work, interest in laboratory work and data analysis, NZ driver license.

Technology in citizen science for strengthening resilience to natural hazards: an initial study of the participatory process


Supervisor

JC Gaillard

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI116

Rationale:

This summer research project fits within a larger project funded by the National Science Challenges on Resilience to Nature’s Challenges (NSC-RNC). The overall goal of the NSC-RNC project is to assess the role and contribution of technology in fostering genuine participation and citizen science in strengthening resilience to natural hazards in New Zealand. It particularly focuses on how technology may help in making citizen knowledge tangible, usable/timely and communicable to outside stakeholders such as government agencies, scientists and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) so that there can be a dialogue between citizens and outside stakeholders. This dialogue is essential to integrate both local and scientific knowledge as well as actions from the bottom up and from the top down in disaster risk reduction (DRR).

Objectives:

This summer research project consists in studying the process of people’s participation in the three different sets of activities that will be conducted as part of the NSC-RNC project, i.e. participatory mapping using drones, video games and Lego modelling. The specific objectives of the summer research are:

  1. Identify who participates and why;
  2. Analyse who makes decisions related to the process of risk assessment, how and why;
  3. Identify opportunities and challenges for generating knowledge meaningful for disaster risk assessment;
  4. Unpack power relations amongst participants and between participants and outside stakeholders.

Methods:

The research will rely on qualitative research methods. Observations of the actual process of participation in the three sets of citizen science activities and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders of these activities will be conducted. It will require travelling to Hawke’s Bay and desk work in Auckland. Financial support will be provided by the summer research scholarship as well as the NSC-RNC project.

Case study and partners:

This summer research project focuses on Hawke’s Bay. It involves local stakeholders of DRR, including the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group, East Coast Lab, NGOs and other civil society organisations, as well as researchers from Auckland University of Technology and the University of Auckland.

Outputs:

  • a short field note article for an academic journal;
  • a poster for a conference at the interface between policy and science.

Skills required:

  • Completion of year two of an undergraduate degree
  • A minimum B+ average grade equivalent to a GPA of 6
  • Completion of GEOG325 and GEOG315 (with a disaster-related topic for the latter)

Participatory numbers for disaster risk reduction: a case study in the Philippines


Supervisor

JC Gaillard

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI117

Rationale:

This summer research project focuses on participatory numbers and how they contribute (or not) to disaster risk reduction (DRR). Participatory numbers are quantitative research information produced by those at risk of disaster in order to make their knowledge tangible to outside stakeholders. They allegedly allow for an insider’s perspective on hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities and can eventually participate to identifying actions towards DRR. The actual contribution of this approach is however to be further assessed through additional research. This is the object of this project through a case study of activities being conducted in the city of Baybay in the Philippines.

Objectives:

This summer research project aims at assessing the contribution of participatory numbers to knowledge sharing in DRR. The specific objectives of the summer research are:

  1. Draw a typology of participatory numbers used during the DRR activities conducted in Baybay;
  2. Analyse the participatory process associated with the use of participatory numbers in DRR;
  3. Assess the contribution of participatory numbers to the sharing of knowledge between local people and outside stakeholders of DRR.

Methods:

The research will rely on qualitative research methods. Observations of the actual process of participation as part of the DRR activities conducted in Baybay, Philippines. It will require therefore travelling to the Philippines for six weeks. Initial review of the literature and preparatory work as well as data analysis are expected to be conducted in Auckland. Logistical support will be provided by the Baybay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

Case study and partners:

This summer research project focuses on the city of Baybay in the Philippines. Baybay is a small costal city with vast rural and mountainous hinterlands exposed to a range of natural and other hazards, including flooding, storm surges, earthquake, tsunami and landslides. The project involves the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and local village councils as well as researchers from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Outputs:

  • a short field note article for an academic journal;
  • a poster for a conference at the interface between policy and science.

Skills required:

  • Completion of year two of an undergraduate degree
  • A minimum B+ average grade equivalent to a GPA of 6
  • Completion of GEOG325 and GEOG315 (with a disaster-related topic for the latter)
  • Aptitude to live in relatively rudimentary conditions
  • Willingness to learn a foreign language
  • Like rice!

Assessing the engineering geology and geomorphology of landslides in the Auckland region


Supervisor

Dr Martin Brook

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI118

The project includes GIS analysis of landslides to map recent and historical landslides and classify failure mechanisms, using aerial imagery and LiDAR (so some ArcGIS skills are required). It will also include ground-truthing via site visits to selected landslides, and possibly some numerical modelling (training will be given).

How high are the low islands? Validating radar-derived digital elevation models in atoll settings.


Supervisor

Murray Ford

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI119

Atoll islands are low-lying deposits found throughout the world’s tropical oceans. There is widespread concern regarding the fate of these islands as sea level continues to rise. However, despite this concern we know very little about the elevation and topography of reef islands. Using existing LiDAR and Radar datasets this project will apply GIS and remote sensing techniques to examine the topography of atoll islands throughout the central Pacific in order to refine assessments of the vulnerability of islands to further sea level rise.

Skills: must have GIS or remote sensing skills (ideally Geog 317 or equivalent). 

Sediment transport along a gravel barrier, Hawkes Bay


Supervisor

Mark Dickson

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI120

The research will contribute to a broader project examining erosion and flooding sensitivity of low-lying gravel coastal barriers. Fieldwork includes relocating gravel clasts on Hawke Bay beaches within which passive integrated transponder tags have been inserted. Laboratory work might include abrasion experiments to understand rates of cobble attrition during transport. Modelling work could include the use of three separate existing codes that respectively simulate particle diffusion on beaches, storm erosion of gravel barriers, and long term barrier evolution. The ideal student would be interested in coastal processes and coastal management and be keen on fieldwork, and/or have a computing background, and be interested in modelling.

Imagineering the New Zealand Diaspora


Supervisor

Francis Collins

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI121

Would you like to spend the summer watching films and television and browsing websites? Do you have or would you like to develop media analysis skills? This summer scholarship focuses on an exploration of the way in which the New Zealand diaspora is imagined in different forms of media: film, television, online. You will work with the supervisor to develop a catalogue of different media representations of New Zealanders abroad for subsequent analysis focusing on: race, gender and class in the diaspora; identities and practices in diasporic cultures; the place of the diaspora in imaginations of New Zealand nationhood. The project forms part of a five-year research programme on Nation and Migration: population mobilities, desires and state practices in 21st century New Zealand.

Applicants should be majoring in geography (with a focus on human geography ideally) and/or other social science and humanities disciplines.

Understanding the eruption mechanisms of Qdir Volcano, Saudi Arabia


Supervisor

Shane Cronin

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI122

Using a combination of pyroclast dispersal, density and grain-size measures, one of the largest and most recent eruptions of the Harrat Khayber volcanic field (250 km N of Medina) will be investigated. This basaltic event occurred in historic times and there are legends describing its impacts. The field data has been collected and the project will involve applying a range of geo-spatial methods to understanding the dispersal of the tephra. This will be coupled with studies to understand the vesicularity and eruption mechanism through pyroclast textures.

Three Kings – our largest and most explosive volcano


Supervisor

Shane Cronin

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI123

This project will examine some of the chemical and physical properties of our most explosive volcanic centre, located in central Auckland. Geochemical and petrological studies, using XRF and microscope techniques will be employed to understand the chemical changes during this eruption (from samples collected in a complete 50 m-thick section of the tuff ring). Further, density and porosity studies will be used to understand the role of magma-water interaction in the pyroclast fragmentation and eruption intensity.

Hunga-Haapai, Hunga-Tonga the worlds youngest (and possibly most temporary) volcano


Supervisor

Shane Cronin

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI124

Using a combination of aerial (drone) images, photographs and satellite imagery, this project will be to characterise the growth and destruction of a volcanic cone, built during eruptions in December 2014 to January 2015. GIS methods will be used to calculate rates of erosion, with extensive field photographs used to document the types and rates of erosive processes on surface and shore.

Patterns of landscape incision: an inventory of gully mass wasting features in NZ’s East Cape


Supervisor

Jon Tunnicliffe

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI125

The aim of this project is to develop an inventory of mass-wasting features in an array of different geologic settings within New Zealand’s East Cape. The project will involve georeferencing historic imagery, digitizing landforms, and developing 3D models with historical image photogrammetry. Skills in GIS (ArcMap, QGIS) are a must; some field reconnaissance may be involved.

Investigating natural hazard and risk map reading behaviour and decision-making


Supervisor

Mary Anne Thompson

Jan Lindsay

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI126

Information about natural hazards and risks is commonly communicated with maps. This study aims to better understand how people read information from hazard and risk maps. It will explore how how map design and communication format influences risk perception, as well as map-based decision-making. Eye-gaze tracking and questionnaires will be used to investigate what information people look for on the map in order to make certain decisions, and how visual design of the map content influences performance in map-based tasks. We are looking for a Research Assistant with an interest or background in social science methods to assist with data collection and processing. The role will require engaging with members of the public, and setting-up and assisting with experiments and surveys. The role may also include assisting with quantitative and qualitative data processing, and some domestic travel within New Zealand (expenses covered). 

Urban air quality and population exposure


Supervisor

Jennifer Salmond

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI127

Join a team of people running a dense network of novel low-cost air quality sensors in the Auckland region. You will gain field experience working with innovative instrumentation and develop computational and data analysis skills working with the data. Reliability and ability to work well in teams essential. Statistical, GIS or computer programming skills highly desirable.

Human impacts on lakes and their catchments – the sedimentary record


Supervisor

Paul Augustinus

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI128

The Late Holocene (last 1000 year) environmental history of the Auckland-Northland region is surprisingly poorly known. Human impacts, both Polynesian and European associated with land use changes have been documented but most studies are low-resolution and involve discontinuous records that are poorly dated. However, lake sediment records have been neglected despite the fact that long, continuous and undisturbed records of sedimentation, and hence proxies (indirect indicators) of environmental change are available in their sediment records. The present study intends to redress this situation via coring the sediment records contained in several lakes that are regularly monitored by Northland Regional Council for a range of water quality indicators.

The plan is to (1) survey the selected lakes over the 2009/10 summer using an inflatable boat and produce a detailed bathymetric map incorporating subsurface sediment depth soundings that will be used to select the optimum targets for lake coring using a gravity corer. (2) Subsequent lab work will involve core logging/description before undertaking conventional and rapid analyses of sediment properties and chemistry all using equipment available to the student in ENV.

Environmental decision making in New Zealand: who are the elected decision makers in New Zealand's land and sea interface


Supervisor

Karen Fisher (contact)

Richard Le Heron

June Logie

Erena Le Heron

Paula Blackett (NIWA)

Kate Davies (NIWA)

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI129

We seek applications from students to join us in benchmarking the backgrounds of representatives elected to New Zealand's Regional Councils and other institutions relating to governing and managing land and sea environments. The research will include recent developments in institutional arrangements. The research will involve (1) a longitudinal desk top survey to establish the occupational, educational and political backgrounds of councillors and (2) a compilation of media/blog coverage by councillors. The student will be part of the Participatory Processes and Navigating Socio-ecological knowledge projects in the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge. The research will give experience in combining quantitative and qualitative research methods and the researcher will be part of a team.

Climate Change Adaptation in Context


Supervisor

Dr Roger Baars (Project Leader)

Dr Marie McEntee

Assoc. Prof Anthony Fowler

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI130

Climate change adaptation messages are frequently rejected when not seen as necessary and practicable at the individual level. Thus, the ways in which individual stakeholders perceive, understand and respond to climate change messages need attention and scrutiny. Using the example of adaptive strategies towards water supply resilience on Waiheke Island, this research will develop a better understanding of individuals’ climate adaptation knowledge related to water supply, their information needs and their expectations and responsibilities in regard to climate adaptation processes. The project will generate important knowledge on how socio-economic, cultural and emotional factors impact on everyday decision-making processes in relation to changing rainfall patterns. This will involve data collection through online questionnaires and paper-based surveys on the island. Adaptation knowledge and information gaps, perceptions of and reactions to changing rainfall patterns, levels of trust in science and government, as well as potential constraints to adaptive decision-making will be examined. Research findings are expected to inform future community engagement approaches in climate change adaptation debates.

Skills required

  • Ability to generate online survey (in conjunction with Dr Baars)
  • Ability to conduct questionnaires in person
  • Ability to undertake qualitative and quantitative content analysis
  • Ability to summarise complex information clearly and concisely
  • Basic knowledge of climate change adaptation in relation to water

Modelling rainfall-runoff using GIS


Supervisor

Sam Trowsdale

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI131

Computer geek wanted to help develop a proof of concept rainfall-runoff model. You may have programming or networking skills or be a GIS wiz. You’ll work alongside a small team in the School of Environment and e-research. Students from School of Environment, Computer Science or Engineering can apply.

Observing and/as education for sustainability – the rediscovery of open days as public experiments


Supervisor

Brad Coombes

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI132

Recent shifts in environmental education have inspired transition from transmissive attempts to raise scientific literacy to more transformative and transgressive approaches that value self-discovery and critical thinking. Whilst academics have championed that transition, practioners have found it difficult to achieve broad-scale participation and critical mass. This project will explore the reinvention of open days and public observatories as a means of achieving the goals of transformative education in a more publicly accessible form.

Northland has a long history of agricultural extension services and open days on farms, but those legacies were threatened by neoliberal reforms since the 1980s. Subsequent rediscovery of those approaches now extends to advocacy for community energy projects, flagship farms and social learning to protect ecosystem services.

All such approaches purport that experience, first-hand material contact and, particularly, observation are superior forms of learning. It is fitting, therefore, that this project will employ (participant) observation to investigate some of the social, cultural and educational outcomes of open days. With support of the project supervisor, the successful applicant will attend a sample of showcase events run by Northland community energy trusts (solar power in papakainga), Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group (flagship farms) and Landcare groups (biodiversity open days). S/he will use a mix of observation, ethnography and photo-elicitation to understand participants’ interaction with each other and with technology- and nature-on-display to interrogate the possibilities for group learning. 

Representations of social license in invasive species management


Supervisor

Brad Coombes

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI133

From such extractive industries as mining to such publicly controversial activities as genetic modification, the notion of social license has become prominent in recent years. Advocates of social license have maintained that simple consultative rationalities and a procedural understanding of justice are sufficient for generating a social license to operate. Academic research has contested this proceduralist understanding and argues that social license is a social construct that homogenises competing understandings of expertise, justice and rights to artificially manufacture consent.

The issue of toxicants for controlling invasive species has become particularly controversial in New Zealand, where advocacy for a limited range of control technologies confronts social and cultural resistance. Recent political moves to support ‘Predator Free NZ’ have been implemented with no attempt to gauge public acceptability. There have been many (funding or decision-support) calls for social scientists to assist conservation managers with achieving social license, but critical perspectives on that process and its outcomes are rare.

The successful candidate for this project will investigate cases of advocacy and activism in decisions to use aerial applications of sodium monofluoroacetate (‘1080’) in public reserves. S/he will explore competing representations of appropriate management, how different interest groups have framed their causes as legitimate, and whether outcomes adopted as policy represent fair compromises. Accordingly, experience with or willingness to learn skills in critical discourse analysis of media representations, public submissions and public policy are desirable.

Structural Geology Model of the Auckland Isthmus


Supervisor

Julie Rowland

Jennifer Eccles

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI134

Exploring the tectonic evolution and seismic hazard in Auckland requires good knowledge of the structures present. To synthesise existing knowledge to enable planning for future geological mapping and geophysical projects we aim to start compiling a GIS database of existing published and unpublished structural data. Preference will be given to students with some knowledge of structural geology and GIS. 

Playing with fire: examining variations in the heat output of Yasur volcano


Supervisor

Shane Cronin

Jennifer Eccles

Ben Simons

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI135

Yasur is a continuously active volcano in Vanuatu. For three months in 2016, in conjunction with other instruments, three thermal infrared (IR) imaging cameras were deployed record the patterns of change in heat output during and between explosive eruptions which occur on a timescale of seconds to minutes. Analysis of this data will help to reveal eruption dynamics as part of a larger project being undertaken by PhD student Ben Simons.

Preference will be given to students with some background in physics, maths and coding with an interest in physical volcanology.

Suspended opportunities – Mataitai, Taiapure and the public contestation of Maori environmental preferences


Supervisor

Brad Coombes

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI136

Maori have routinely criticised no-take marine reserves as a neo/colonial form of preservationism that abrogates indigenous rights. During the last two decades, mataitai and taiapure have been offered as alternative, less restrictive approaches to marine management that provide some opportunities to harmonise conservation with community development and tangata whenua preferences. Yet, those opportunities have been forestalled by public resistance, with less than a third of taiapure and half of mataitai applications gazetted and implemented. Some communities have waited for over 15 years for clarification about whether their application will be accepted or not.

The procedure for establishing these forms of marine management is clearly deficient, but the causes of such delays extend far beyond administrative failure. Submissions on taiapure and mataitai proposals reveal intensive lobbying by recreational, environmental and fishing groups. Competing conceptions of justice seem to drive public objections and anxieties about the loss of public goods, but there have been scant research into the socio-cultural dimensions of those conflicts.

The successful applicant for this project will explore some of the stalled applications (e.g. Aotea Harbour). S/he will juxtapose the outcomes of two research methods: (1) a critical discourse analysis of public submissions on applications (2) participant observation in regular public discussion forums held by supporters of those applications. The analysis may enable better understanding of why Maori approaches to marine management have not fulfilled their promises under Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

Mapping historical and contemporary urban agriculture practices in Auckland


Supervisor

Dr Agnieszka Leszczynski

Dr Ann Bartos

Discipline

Environment

Project code: SCI137

There is talk of a resurgence of ‘urban agriculture’ in cities around the world, but can we actually evidence this happening in Auckland? And, how do current urban food production practices compare to historical urban agriculture in Auckland? We have both historical and contemporary data on urban food practices that we need mapped and analysed by a student with solid statistical and GIS skills. This project has two primary components.  First, the student will translate the historical quantitative data (already collected) into spatial data that can be mapped.  As Auckland’s boundaries are not static, the student will need to locate its spatial boundaries over time in order to appropriately map the historical data.  The second component of this project is to then compare this historical data to the contemporary data.  Contemporary data consists of digitized estimates of residential food production activity derived from spatial imagery and land use data for Auckland.  These two components will help give us an overall picture of changes in urban agriculture practices in Auckland.