Geography, Earth Science and Environment

Geography, Earth Science and Environment

Dr. Michelle McKeown

Contact Information

Email:  michelle.mckeown(at)
Phone: +679 323 2210
Office: Room 02, SGESE Building, Marine Campus

Research Interests

Michelle is a Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of the South Pacific. Her research focuses on increasing our understanding of past environmental change through the use of biological indicators (chironomid, midge fly) sourced from lake sediments. Chironomids present an excellent opportunity to reconstruct past climates, as well as human-environment interactions, in unique detail. The methodology has been successfully employed throughout the world to track both natural and anthropogenic variations in environmental conditions, including climate change, acidification, and heavy metal contamination of freshwaters. Michelle’s current chironomid-based projects involve reconstructing long-term temperature change over the Holocene in Ireland and Denmark, as well as assessing how twentieth and early twenty-first century climate and human impacts have manifested in a number of lakes in western Ireland. Michelle has also reconstructed long-term climate change from Irish instrumental records, and remains active in modern climate studies. Michelle aims to use her experience and expertise to facilitate the development of a more detailed understanding of environmental and climate change across the South Pacific islands.

Research Areas

  • Natural and anthropogenic climate change
  • Reconstructions from proxy records and instrumental records
  • Palaeoclimatology/palaeolimnology
  • Chironomids
  • Human-environment interactions on lake ecosystems

Selected Publications

McKeown, M. and Potito, A. P. (in press) Assessing recent climatic and human influences on chironomid communities from two moderately impacted lakes in western Ireland. Hydrobiologia.

Potito, A. P., Woodward, C. A., McKeown, M. and Beilman, D. W. (2014) Modern influences on chironomid distribution in western Ireland lakes: potential for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Journal of Paleolimnology, Vol. 52(4), pp 385-404.

McKeown, M., Potito, A. P. and Hickey, K. R (2012) The long-term temperature record from Markree Observatory, County Sligo from 1842-2011. Irish Geography, Vol. 45(3), pp 257-282.


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Geography, Earth Science and Environment
School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Ocean and Natural Sciences
The University of the South Pacific
Private Bag, Laucala Campus,
Suva, Fiji.
Tel: (+679) 323 2542
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