Geography

 

Project Number: 2019-60

Project Leader: Sebastian Pitman, Deirdre Hart

Host Department: Geography

Project Title: A UAV-based Structure from Motion approach to mapping dynamic beach cusps

Project outline: Our understanding of geomorphology is being transformed by new technologies such as drone based survey methods. This project is an opportunity to spend your summer at the beach, whilst learning more about GIS, and how we can use these new technologies to better understand coastal geomorphology.

In particular, this study will focus on beach cusps, which are crescentic rhythmic features on unconsolidated beaches worldwide. They are particularly prominent on coarse grained (gravel) and mixed sediment (sand and gravel) beaches. These mixed sediment beaches are globally rare, although common throughout New Zealand's South Island. Much of the work on these beaches was conducted 20 or 30 years ago, and our understanding has improved very little since then. This project aims to use drone based photogrammetry to measure the occurrence of beach cusps on a range of energetic, coarse sediment beaches throughout the South Island. The student will be responsible for conducting drone flights at a number of East and West coast beaches in order to measure the beach cusps, as well as processing the collected data in Agisoft to create a series of Digital Elevation Models. In discussion with the supervisor, the student will be able to elect to do a small number of sites multiple times to map temporal changes, or a large number of sites once to investigate spatial differences in beach cusp morphology.  Full training will be provided on both how to deploy and fly the drone, as well as the subsequent processing. The student will then have the opportunity to work with the supervisor to classify the range of features observed, and produce a brief report outlining how cusp parameters (size, shape, elevation) changes with sediment size, wave energy, and geological setting. The employable skills you can gain through this project include competency in UAV based survey methods, geomorphological survey design, Geographic Information Systems, and the analysis of geomorphic change. The project suits someone who enjoys hands on fieldwork and is willing to travel to a diverse range of coastal field sites to study.

Specific Requirements: Full NZ Driving Licence

 

 

Project Number: 2019-61

Project Leader: Peyman Zawar-Reza

Host Department: Geography

Project Title: Mapping vegetation change within Whakaraupo/Lyttelton Harbour

Project outline: Significant deforestation of the Whakaraupo/Lyttelton Harbour catchment started in the mid 1800's to support the building of Christchurch and to free land for agriculture and farming. As little as one percent remnant vegetation remained by the early 1900's. Over recent decades the forest cover has improved through regrowth and the dedicated management and planting of indigenous vegetation on Christchurch City Council reserves and specific conservation land such as the Summit Rd Society. This project aims to map that change using GIS/LIDAR/ remote sensing data/ old photographs and reports to show this change up until today. The report “Indigenous Ecosystems of the Lyttelton harbour Basin and recently completed soil mapping for the harbour will be part of the overlay. The aim is to help interpret the diversity of habitat and vegetation cover for the different parts of what is a complicated landscape. This will be able to show positive change to the community who are working to restore the indigenous ecosystems and support targeting future specific ecological programmes of work.

Significant deforestation of the Whakaraupo/Lyttelton Harbour catchment started in the mid 1800's to support the building of Christchurch and to free land for agriculture and farming. As little as one percent remnant vegetation remained by the early 1900's. Over recent decades the forest cover has improved through regrowth and the dedicated management and planting of indigenous vegetation on Christchurch City Council reserves and specific conservation land such as the Summit Rd Society. This project aims to map that change using GIS/LIDAR/ remote sensing data/ old photographs and reports to show this change up until today. The report Indigenous Ecosystems of the Lyttelton harbour Basin and recently completed soil mapping for the harbour will be part of the overlay. The aim is to help interpret the diversity of habitat and vegetation cover for the different parts of what is a complicated landscape. This will be able to show positive change to the community who are working to restore the indigenous ecosystems and support targeting future specific ecological programmes of work.

Specific Requirements: Experience with remote sensing

 

 

Project Number: 2019-62

Project Leader: Deirdre Hart, Ann Brower

Host Department: School of Earth and Environment

Project Title: Review and evaluation of Lyttelton Port data and information

Project outline: The Lyttelton Port Company is the holder of decades of data records for Whakaraupo/Lyttelton Harbour, including detailed technical assessments completed and reviewed as part of multiple consenting processes including the Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan. These include effects of sedimentation and turbidity, wave action, biosecurity, marine ecology including mammals and broader operational matters such as noise, air and water quality. The aim of this project is pull together all available existing data and critically evaluate with existing relevant data and information and then to report what has been found, to identify what needs to be added and the information gaps. This work will be used to support the Whaka-Ora Science Advisory Group to better understand the health of Whakaraupo and target science projects to monitor the success of actions from within the Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour Plan. It also provides an opportunity to be situation and work with Lyttelton Port staff as well as meet other key staff from within a range of agencies.

Specific Requirements: environmental science, geography, water, or ecology backgrounds

 

 

Project Number: 2019-63

Project Leader: Sally Gaw

Host Department: SEE

Project Title: Review and evaluation of Whakaraupo data and information

Project outline: Significant data and information have been collected over the decades across multiple agencies, some of which will be reported while some will have been collected and filed. This project will complete an extended data audit and collate what has been found along with a review the reports and science documentation from Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, Otago and Canterbury Universities and other relevant agencies. This will include interviewing science staff from partner and relevant agencies. The review will add to the internal agency review completed in 2018. The task is to assess the existing data and information for the Whaka-Ora science work into work towards providing an understanding of base data including parameters trends for water quality, selected species to identify what is useful, what needs to be added to and what are the gaps. This project offers an opportunity to meet key staff and work within a range of agencies.

Specific Requirements: environmental science, geography, or other science background

 

 

Project Number: 2019-64

Project Leader: Dr Kari Bassett (with Ann Brower)

Host Department: SEE

Project Title: Sediment in Morgan's Gully, Diamond Harbour

Project outline: Morgan's Gully between Bay View Road and Marine Drive in Diamond Harbour offers an opportunity to study the effect of tunnel gully erosion (under-runners) as a contribution to sediment load. The gully has an ephemeral stream that typically flows April to September. Even at low flow, it always has visual turbidity indicating some sediment load. During typical winter rain events of 50mm in 24 hours or over, the stream turns opaque carrying around 1g/l of sediment. On the eastern side and lower western side of the gully multiple storm-water systems empty onto steep loess soil creating deep rifts of tunnel gully erosion. These areas are mainly shrublands that seem to offer little stabilisation. One under-runner passes directly under a large pine that clearly has stabilised the top soil, but also allows the storm water to pass underneath as the under-runner continues below the tree. The upper western side of the gully has no storm water or other means of run off concentration, however, there is some tunnel gully erosion that qualitatively does not seem as bad. Above Bay View Road, the catchment is mainly pasture, with a small area of regenerating kanuka and gorse. Measurements taken during a storm in 2017 indicate that although the lower gully was considerably better vegetated, it contributed a much higher sediment load to the stream, presumably because of the storm water concentration. A quantitative research project that measures the sediment loads of individual under-runners could deliver useful information to informing storm-water and land use policy that reduces sediment load. The findings would contribute to the Christchurch City Council Stormwater Catchment Plan due to be started in the new year.

Specific Requirements: environmental science, geology, or physical geography background