The University of the South Pacific Lautoka Campus hosted a special dinner reception on Friday, 16TH September, 2011 to welcome a group of Geography students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) who are currently in Fiji on a field trip.
The students are accompanied by Professor James Terry from the Department of Geography, NUS and School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment, USP who delivered a very interesting public lecture on ‘Signatures of Cyclones on Pacific Island Coastlines’ by shedding some perspectives on recent hydro-geological and geomorphic findings.
The lecture focused on investigating a number of recent and historical tropical cyclones, and the nature of their physical consequences for island environments in the South Pacific and beyond.
The power point presentation featured illustrations of field research findings for a variety of locations, especially in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. The audience was showed a range of examples across contrasting landscape units, including steep volcanic coasts, alluvial floodplains, fringing and barrier coral reefs, and low-lying atolls.
Prof. Terry said that for each of these settings, storms have caused impressive and sometimes long-lasting geomorphic and hydro geological effects through the various actions of wave erosion, storm surge, river floods and sediment mobilization.
“For future scenarios of possibly increasing storm severity linked to climate change, better understanding of magnified geomorphic processes in island coastal environments is helpful in societal adaption to these natural hazard events,” he said. He presented and discussed a number of important roles for geoscientists and geomorphologists to support his theory.
It was concluded from the presentation that cyclones do cause damage and coastal change, however not all coastal signatures are “negative” features, for example constructional imprints. It was also learnt that the opportunities must be recognized for example sediment nourishment was beneficial to the long-term longevity of beaches. It was further revealed that benefits could be better exploited and exploiting any possible benefits was a form of adaptation to natural hazards.
Prof. Terry has travelled widely to present at international conferences, including plenary addresses and invited public lectures. He has also been an advisor to government agencies, private industry and NGOs in the South Pacific Islands on impacts of climate change and variability. Recent responsibilities include the Council of the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society and the Singapore Ministry of Education review panel for the Geography A-level curriculum. He has also advised the International Council for Science (ICSU) Working Group on Natural Hazards and Disasters, which was tasked with preparing a regional science plan for the Asia-Pacific region. His research publication record spans over 60 journal articles and book chapters across the broad sphere of physical geography, and he has authored and co-edited several books.
Members of USP’s Student Association federal body, who concluded their two-day meeting at the Lautoka Campus on that day, were also invited to the dinner.
The students of NUS and the members of USPSA were accorded a warm welcome by USP's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Administration and Regional Campuses, Dr Esther Williams.
It was an entertaining and fun-filled night for both the students and the USPSA as everyone amicably mingled with each other over dinner, cocktail and even took to the dance floor afterwards.