Associate Professor Javier Leon | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Associate Professor Javier Leon

PhD (Earth and Environmental Sciences) W'gong., M.Sc. Geography Cant., BA Humanities Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) Lima Perú.

  • Associate Professor in Physical Geography
+61 7 5456 3405
Office location
Sunshine Coast
Dr Javier Leon

Associate Professor Javier Leon is a geographer with broad interests in geomorphology and is particularly interested in the study and management of coastal systems including sandy beaches and coral reefs. He has developed and collaborated in multidisciplinary research projects combining field data, geospatial techniques and modelling in study sites across the Great Barrier Reef and Eastern coast of Australia and Pacific Islands including Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. His aim is to answer questions related to links between morphology, ecology and management in the current changing climate and sea-level rise context.

Science Communication:

Check out Seeing the sea-level rise.

Watch a 3 minute YouTube video about our research “Polyp to Planet”.

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Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students

  • Headland sediment bypassing (Noosa)
  • Mapping vegetation/weeds (Fraser Island) or intertidal vegetation (seagrass, marsh, mangroves) using drones
  • 3D visualisation and environmental science
  • Beach monitoring using coastal imaging systems
  • Semi-automated object-based image classification
  • Coral reef islands under climate change (waves and sediment transport)

Two additional projects in collaboration with SEQ Water:

The risk of unsealed roads for water treatment plants

1. Unsealed road database development

Gravel roads provide a source of fine- and coarse-grain sediment readily available for transport to streams depending on potential connectivity. Coarse sediment in-fills and reduces the heterogeneity of stream beds reducing habitat while fine-grained suspended sediments have long transport distances impacting ecosystem processes and potential to increase suspended sediment loads at water treatment plants. Pathways for sediment delivery include road stream crossings, concentrated flow pathways from drain outlets and diffuse overland flow from drain outlets.

The objective of this project is to create an unsealed road geodatabase. Use existing road spatial data and extract unsealed roads, tracks and fire trails for SEQ Water Treatment Catchment(s). If only this component (1) of the project is being considered, then the secondary objective is to identify the total length of road segments most likely to contribute sediment to streams based on proximity, and provide a first-order estimate of possible sediment loads. Research has shown roads within approximately 40 m of streams connect during frequent rainfall events. Road erosion information from literature can be used to estimate potential sediment loads based on road type (eg., gravel road, bare soil) and the contributing area.

2. Unsealed road connectivity assessment

This can be considered as either the second aim of the project or a project for a second student. I still need to discuss with the Spatial Unit and ITC the possibility of implementing an ArcGIS version 10.0 toolbox in the virtual workstation.

A number of GIS tools have been developed for evaluating road runoff connectivity based on different organisation requirements. The main aim of this project is to investigate the application of the RoadCAT tool to a subset of unsealed road data. RoadCAT was developed at the ANU for ARCGIS version 10.0 and higher. Alternative GIS tools may also be investigated. The application of the tool may require the collection/creation of additional gis data including drain locations.

Research areas

  • coastal geography
  • coral reefs and islands
  • remote sensing and GI science
  • climate and sea-level rise

Teaching areas

  • Coastal geomorphology
  • Hydrology and geomorphology
  • Biogeography

Dr Javier Leon's is a geographer with broad interests in geomorphology and particularly interested in the study and management of coastal systems including sandy beaches and coral reefs.

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