Sediment-based records of long-term variations in aquatic pollution in Southeast Asia

Friday 1 March, 2019
Mathews Building, Theatre D


Southeast Asia receives a lot of rain. Most of the rain quickly runs-off into the surrounding oceans and seas, there are few natural lakes in the region to interrupt this flow. Because of this, the availability of potable water has long challenged populations and influenced the location of settlement in the region. These challenges have become more pronounced owing to recent climate change, an expansion of potentially highly polluting aquaculture and steep increases in abstraction in one of the most rapidly developing parts of the world, and have helped drive a huge increase in the rate of dam (artificial lake) construction. Despite the relative scarcity of freshwater in Southeast Asia, pollution laws are poorly implemented in many countries and there is little basic understanding of, for example, transboundary pollution, the functioning of lake ecosystems and the risks human impacts pose to lake ecosystem services, including the provision of potable water and food.

This seminar discusses recent research on aquatic pollution, focusing on a constructed lake (reservoir) in Singapore and a cluster of volcanic crater lakes in the Philippines. In particular, sediment-derived variations in the two main sources of pollutants (local and transboundary) and their impacts over the last few hundreds of years are highlighted.

Biography: David Taylor is currently Provost’s Chair Professor and Professor of Tropical Environmental Change in the Department of Geography at National University of Singapore. Previously (2001-2012) David held the Professorship (College Chair) in Geography at Trinity College, University of Dublin (TCD), Ireland. He also served as Head of Department of Geography and Head of School of Natural Sciences at TCD.

David’s main research interests centre upon the human dimensions of relatively recent environmental change in the tropics. There are three main strands to his research: health, governance and pollution. He is currently coming to the end of a ten month-long sabbatical in the School of Geography, University of Melbourne.