Shifting sands and dynamic shorelines

Climate change, coastal erosion, and the restoration of beach-dune systems

Professor Ian Walker (Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Canada)

SAC Room (Room 110), JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics (Ground Floor, St. Anthony's), NUI Galway 14:00 :: 23rd August 2012

How is climatic variability and change affecting our beaches and dunes? Why are coastal dune systems important for moderating the impacts of coastal erosion climate change? Why are some beach-dune systems being intentionally disturbed to promote more dynamic landscapes?

These questions are among those explored by the research program of Dr. Ian Walker - an expert in coastal erosion and beach-dune systems. Using recent research examples from western Canada, Dr. Walker's talk will discuss the fundamental function and importance of beach-dune systems in the coastal zone, explore the dynamics between climate change and coastal erosion, and critically examine recent efforts to restore beach-dune ecosystems using artificial disturbance to promote more dynamic and resilient ecosystems.

The event is part of celebration of 50 years of Geography at NUI Galway. Visiting scholar Dr Ian Walker is supported by Institute for Business, Social Sciences and Public Policy at NUI Galway.

Dr. Ian J. Walker is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada where he directs the Coastal Erosion and Dune Dynamics (CEDD) Laboratory. Professor Walker is a geomorphologist with expertise in beach and dune landscapes, wind (aeolian) processes, coastal erosion, and climate change impacts on the coastal zone. His research program involves field experimentation, analysis of remotely sensed imagery, and high resolution terrain mapping to examine past and present sedimentary processes and coastal landscape dynamics. This work has direct relevance for understanding and managing the impacts of climate change (coastal storms, enhanced erosion, flooding, sea-level rise), for protected areas planning and management, and for restoring coastal dunes as more ‘dynamic’ ecosystems that are resilient to climate change and human use pressures. Dr. Walker's research takes place on beaches and dunes across north America from British Columbia to Massachusetts and involves close collaboration with protected areas managers, local municipalities and aboriginal communities, and other international research scientists and students. His research program is funded by the Canadian Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the US National Science Foundation (NSF), Parks Canada Agency, and the Hakai Institute.

Professor Walker is currently Vice-President of the Canadian Geomorphology Research Group (CGRG), recent recipient of CGRG's outstanding young researcher award, and editorial board member for the Journal of Coastal Research. Dr. Walker also enjoys teaching introductory Earth Science, upper level courses in Geomorphology, and a field course in Coastal Geomorphology.

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