Visiting Intern

Matthew Hemler is a Junior at Northeastern University studying Environmental Science and Geology. He is interning at Massey from May 5th to September 3rd to gain experience in river research and to learn more about fluvial geomorphology. While at Massey he will be quantifying habitat change and human modification along the Mangatainoka River using the natural character index.  He will also assist with grain size analysis on mine tailing deposits, and work with Andrew Neverman using satelite imagery to examine historic channel stability at selected streams.  

Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Awards.

Associate Professor Ian Fuller, is one of the winners of this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Awards. The awards celebrate commitment to excellence and innovation in research-based teaching, with up to four awarded each year. Associate Professor Ian Fuller will go forward to attend the national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

Measuring bed stability in Canterbury Rivers

Andrew Neverman (IRS PhD student) helps out cyanobacteria researcher in Canterbury. Tara McAllister to measure bed stability.

Conferences and Publications:

Ian Fuller to present at International Rivers Conference in Lyon , France June 22- 26, 2015 

Changing priorities in physical geography: 

Associate Professor Ian Fuller will be addressing the Canadian Association of Geographers in Vancouver in a session called,"Changing priorities in physical geography". He will be emphasizing the need for rigorous engagement of physical geography with practitioners to remain relevant and connected within the wider Geography discipline. The work in River Solutions is an ideal example of this, which he will be raising (especially the e.g. of NCI).

Russell Death to debate  “IS THE DAIRY INDUSTRY DOING ENOUGH TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY AND PUBLIC PERCEPTION” at Dairy Business of the Year awards Thursday 18th June Hamilton 

Russell Death to speak at South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group meeting June 8th  and 9th June Martinborough 

IRS scientists involved in study of environmental externalities to dairy farming  - Foote, K.J., Joy, M.K. & Death, R.G. (2015) New Zealand Dairy Farming: Milking Our Environment for All Its Worth. Environmental Management, 1-12 . Summary at: See the article.  

New Zealand Geographical Society Seminar 

Hosted by the School of People, Environment and Planning & School of Agriculture & Environment

‘Characterising natural river bed topography and flow conditions using high-resolution bed surveys’ Dr Jon Tunnicliffe, School of Environment, University of Auckland

Jon Tunnicliffe is a lecturer in Fluvial Geomorphology and a well-rounded sediment enthusiast in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland.

Thursday 30th  April, 11am, GLB 2.01, Palmerston North, All Welcome!

 With the introduction of high-resolution laser scanning and structure-from-motion techniques, we now have the capacity to resolve river bed topography down to the grain-scale over many kilometres. This profusion of high-resolution data invites the elaboration of increasingly detailed process models of river behaviour. However, at present, such 2d and 3d morphological models are computationally demanding, and tend to be poorly constrained in modelling river bed development at decadal to century timescales. The detailed topographic datasets, however, provide us with the opportunity to refine our parametrisation of fine-scale processes in conventional, coarser-resolution 1-dimensional (1D) models that integrate bedform and grain roughness elements over much greater (reach-scale) distances.

This talk provides an overview of some of the insights to be gained using numerical flow and sediment transport simulations on high-resolution riverbed topography for single thread, wandering and braided rivers. Using a set of NZ case studies, we examine the spectrum of river forms and the resulting distributions of depth and shear stress that characterise each. 

Monitoring and modelling the transport and fate of nutrients (nitrate) from farms to river via groundwater in the Manawatu catchment

Dave Horne and Ranvir Singh are developing and supervising postgraduate student research projects to help increase our understanding of the transport and transformation of nitrate-nitrogen via shallow groundwater in Manawatu River Catchment.

A sound understanding of the transport and fate of farm nutrients is a key component in our understanding and management of the likely impacts of these nutrients on fresh water quality and ecosystem health. While the cycling and transport of nutrients in the soil profile is reasonably well understood, there is limited information available about their transport and fate in the subsurface environment particularly in the Manawatu river catchment. Preliminary indicative assessments show that about 50% of estimated nitrate-nitrogen leached from the rootzone does not appear in river in some parts of the catchment. It is hypothesized that this 50% of estimated N-leached gets denitrified on its way from the rootzone to the river.

With this background, this project is set up as a postgraduate student research projects with the following objectives:

–      Analysis of nitrate concentrations and indications of denitrification in shallow groundwater

–      Laboratory and in-field measurements of denitrification in unsaturated and saturated zone sediments

–      Assessment of denitrification potential or occurrence among the most common types hydrogeologic settings           (climate, topography, soil and rock types)

–      Integrated modelling of water and nitrogen flow and transformations via shallow groundwater in the catchment

So far we are gathering field information and developing our instruments and procedures for field and laboratory studies, using Massey Dairy Farm No. 1, located strategically in a sensitive river catchment, as a testing site. The instruments and methods developed will be used to replicate denitrification measurements in different hydrogeologic settings in the catchment. The collected information will be used to assess transport (time lag) and potential transformation (denitrification) nitrate-nitrogen via shallow groundwater in the catchment.

The developed water and nitrogen flow modelling will be unique to the local situation and useful to the policy analysis required to formulate future land and water management guidelines for sustainable landuse in the Manawatu catchment.

This is a collaborative project between Massey IAE and Horizons Regional Council (HRC). We have now a team including Dr Ranvir Singh, A/Prof David Horne, David Feek (Technician), two PhD students (Mr Aldrin Rivas and Mr Elwan Ahmed) and a Masters student (Patrick Espanto) working on this. Horizons Regional Council (HRC) is partly funding this project, and providing access to their datasets, in-kind support and a contribution to field measurements and experimental components of the study. This funding and in-kind support is greatly appreciated.

Professor Russell Death

DeathDr Death is an Associate Professor at Massey University and will be visiting the University of Birmingham for three months between June and November 2014 hosted by  Dr Mark Ledger and Professor David Hannah from Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Climate change is expected to increase the future occurrence of extreme hydrological events, such as severe droughts with potentially devastating effects on ecosystems, yet to date most ecological research effort has centered on the impacts of gradually shifting ‘average’ conditions, not extremes. Droughts are difficult to study in natural systems because they are, by definition, infrequent. Experiments have been advocated recently as useful tools to explore the ecologicalimpact of climate extremes, and research at the University of Birmingham is at the leading edge of this new trend. We have recently published a body of work in high impact journals which characterises drought effects at higher levels of biological organisation (i.e. food web patterns and processes; e.g. Ledger et al., 2011, 2012, 2013) and we are now beginning new NERC-funded research projects to explore underlying causative mechanisms (e.g. habitat loss, sedimentation, thermal stress etc.), including in our new ECOLAB facility on campus. UoB is also at the leading edge of hydrological research on drought and hydrohazards (as evidenced by the recent IAS workshop and UNESCO-International Hydrology Programme activities), and we are thus ideally situated to bring together hydrology and ecology at cutting edge of research to understand the environmental impacts of extreme events. Two immediate challenges arising from recent work are: 1) to better understand how shifts in food web structure and functioning caused by disturbances (floods, droughts) affect network stability in order to predict long-term responses of ecosystems to climate change, and 2) to upscale the work from patch-scale experiments and move towards prediction by developing modelling approaches which operate at spatial scales and timeframes relevant to managers and policy makers. 

Collaboration with Dr Death a world leading ecohydrologist, will allow significant advances in these key areas. Russell is a senior figure in the field of disturbance ecology with high-level expertise in the artificial intelligence modelling approaches that would allow us to make the leap to a more predictive science.

Full details of the plans for the visit will be available soon but will include work on the submission of manuscripts to internationally peer-reviewed journals, a workshop on the use of artificial intelligence modelling techniques for communicating complex science to managers, a public seminar ‘ Water management issues in the colonies: what can the UK learn from ‘down under’ and a workshop on using Netica and WEKA (both freeware) for statistical modelling in geography and ecology.












Student Scholarships

Horizons Regional Council and the School of Agriculture & Environment have provided two summer scholarships to work on assessing the condition of the Kahuterawa Stream as part of a joint Biodiversity Project between Massey, Horizons and NZDF. Geneva Guinee and Erica Smith will be supervised by Ian Fuller and Russell Death.

 The School of Agriculture & Environment has provided a summer scholarship to work on reach-scale channel instability. Andrew Neverman will be supervised by Ian Fuller and Russell Death. 


Russell Death  gave a keynote lecture at the Annual IPENZ Rivers Group Conference in Rotorua, 12-13 November 2013, on, A new technique for balancing ecological and engineering requirements of flood control.

Ian Fuller  presented a paper at the Annual NZ Hydrological Society Conference in Palmerston North, 19-21 November 2013, on, Developing an index of natural character to monitor change in river condition and habitat diversity to maintain or improve the integrity of managed rivers.

Ian Fuller attended the University of Canterbury's Waterways Postgraduate Student Conference by invitation in Christchurch on 12 November 2013.

Ian Fuller gave a keynote address at the 3rd Biennial Symposium on Sediment Disasters under the influence of climate change and tectonic activity, Kyoto, Japan, 26-27 September 2013.

Ian Fuller presented a poster on New Zealand Holocene flood histories at the Southern Hemisphere Assessment of Palaeoenvironments (SHAPE) workshop, GNS, Lower Hutt, 16-17 September 2013.

 Simon Vale presented papers on sediment fingerprinting in the Manawatu River at the 10th International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology, Leeds, UK, 14-19 July and the International Association of Geomorphologists Conference, Paris, 26-30 August 2013.

 Ian Fuller led a seminar on the use of river morphology for river management to maintain river condition and habitat diversity at Hohai University, Nanjing, China, 5 July 2013.

Jane Richardson presented a paper on post settlement fluvial responses at the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society Conference, Brisbane, 24-28 June 2013.

Ian Fuller and Russell Death  presented papers at the 3rd Biennial Symposium of the International Society for River Science, Beijing, China, 5-9 August 2013.

Ian Fuller attended the Manawatu River Leader’s Forum, 19 June 2013.

Ian Fuller visited Shanghai Jiaotong University 10-15 June 2013 to represent and discuss the work of Innovative River Solutions with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture and Biology.

Ian Fuller attended the Greater Wellington Regional Council Science meeting on river management consents, 28 May 2013, to provide advice on river geomorphology.

Ian Fuller is attended the Surface Water Integrated Management (SWIM) meeting, MfE, Wellington, 8 May 2013 to share recent work IRS had been doing on developing a Natural Character Index for monitoring river condition.

Russell Death attended the MoBIE Freshwater Sandpit 6-9 May

Ian Fuller gave a talk to Palmerston North Probus Club on Changing River Channels:  A geographical perspective of the Manawatu River and its catchment, 2 April 2013.

 Appointments & Consultancy 

Professor Mark Macklin (Aberystwyth University) has been appointed Professor of Fluvial Geomorphology at Massey from 1 November 2013 on a part-time (0.2) appointment for 5 years. Mark is Europe’s top-ranked fluvial geomorphologist, with a current Google Scholar H-Index of 48 and over 6,200 citations. He currently Directs the Centre for Catchment & Coastal Research in Wales and leads the River Basin Dynamics and Hydrology Research Group at Aberystwyth. He brings expertise in the fields of flood risk assessment, climate change impacts on watershed erosion and sedimentation, remediation and management of metal mining polluted river systems, the hydrological controls of malaria, art-science collaboration, and alluvial geoarchaeology. Mark has secured the equivalent of >$40 million in research funding to date and has just been appointed as a Fellow of the British Society for Geomorphology, an organisation which also awarded him the Gordon Warwick Award "in recognition of an outstanding contribution to geomorphological research and scholarship with particular reference to fluvial geomorphology". We are very pleased to have secured his appointment in Innovative River Solutions.

Russell Death and Ian Fuller are contributing to bimonthly Science Meetings for river management consents at Greater Wellington Regional Council (2013 and ongoing).

Russell Death and Ian Fuller are contributing to a restoration plan for Oakley Creek (Auckland Regional Council).

Mike Joy and Ian Fuller conducted a review of the Auckland Unitary Plan Stormwater Management Provisions for Auckland Regional Council (August 2013).

Massey University Research Funding

$15,000 of Massey University Research Funding has been provided  in 2013 to Ian Fuller, Russell Death and Ranvir Singh for researching pre-impoundment dynamics in the Makaroro River, Hawkes Bay.

Massey Rivers Scientists Presentations:

Ecologist helps plan Tasmania's water use  

A Massey University ecologist is helping researchers balance the needs of land use with the freshwater ecosystems in Tasmania.

Massey Scientist Presents at Inaugural International Rivers Conference

Massey University’s Associate Professor Ian Fuller presented his latest findings to other world-leading scientists at the first international river science conference.

Associate Professor Fuller is co-convenor of the Innovative River Solutions group and attended the conference - Integrative Sciences and sustainable development of rivers - in Lyon, France. He presented a paper on Using riverbed Digital Elevation Models to inform river management, co-authored with Landcare Research scientist Dr. Les Basher, as well as a poster on Keeping gravel extraction out of the water may not be the best solution for instream ecology, co-authored with Russell, Amanda and Fiona Death (Massey).

The conference was attended by nearly 500 delegates and has provided an opportunity to link up with the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA) in France to progress riverbed modeling.

International Memorandum of Understanding in river & catchment science

In October 2013 Massey will sign a trilateral MoU with the Universities of Padua (Italy) and Aberystwyth (Wales) to facilitate research linkages between Padua’s Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture & Forestry (specifically within Integrated Watershed Management, forest hydrology, hillslope and river morphology, geomorphometry, LiDAR applications in hillslope and river environment); Aberystwyth’s Centre for Catchment & Coastal Research; and Innovative River Solutions.