News

Natural hazards expert Associate Prof Dale Dominey-Howes joins School of Geosciences



16 August 2013

With a research career studying natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, heatwaves, bushfires, coastal floods and storms, Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes is much in demand as an expert from governments, policy makers, risk assessors, corporations and media.

Associate Professor Dominey-Howes joined the School of Geosciences in the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney in mid-July and has brought with him a team of staff and students to conduct his wide ranging research.

Associate Professor Dominey-Howes, a leading researcher studying natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, heatwaves, bushfires, coastal floods and storms, has joined the School of Geosciences.
Associate Professor Dominey-Howes, a leading researcher studying natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, heatwaves, bushfires, coastal floods and storms, has joined the School of Geosciences.

"I'm fortunate to have a vibrant research team working with me and a series of research project grants and external funding to support our activities," said Associate Professor Dominey-Howes.

"I was attracted to work in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney as the School has a long and distinguished history of teaching, research and leadership in the discipline fields it specialises in, and especially in geography and geology. The School is also a contemporary national leader with international recognition," explained Associate Professor Dominey-Howes.

"In the most recent Australian Research Council Excellence in Research Assessments and World University rankings, the School achieved noteworthy success. Its current crop of experienced and young capable researchers make the School an exciting place to be!"

Most widely known internationally for his work on tsunamis, Associate Professor Dominey-Howes worked as an Expert Witness in the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council Working Group to explore the hazard, risk and threat of tsunamis following the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami disaster on 26 December 2004.

Following this tsunami, the federal government also instructed Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology to jointly establish the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre and system - a 24/7 live detection, monitoring and early warning system providing forewarning of tsunami threats to Australia's coastlines. Associate Professor Dominey-Howes was commissioned to provide technical expertise and help with various elements of building and deploying the system.

"These two key responses from the federal government to the hugely destructive tsunami of 2004 are really important. For the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council Working Group, I presented my ongoing research on the tsunami hazard Australia faces to inform their analysis of the threat of tsunamis to Australia.

"For the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre and system I helped in a number of ways, including assisting in the decision of where to locate deep ocean detector buoys around the continent to maximise early warning, and helping to establish benchmark timings for issuing early warning messages to the public," said Associate Professor Dominey-Howes.

"I'm not currently engaged directly with the system as it is now fully operational. However, a senior Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dr Filippo Dall'Osso, and I are coordinating a NSW State level disaster project in partnership with various local and state government departments that continues to explore the risk to the coast of NSW from tsunamis and how we might manage and reduce that risk."

His team's research also extends to all natural hazards, with his recent work having a strong focus on extreme climate and weather events - perhaps indicative of the types of events we will experience in a world of climate change.

"The natural hazards work I've done and the team is doing now is in countries as widespread as Australia to Iceland, Bangladesh to Tonga, Thailand to New Zealand and the United States to the Philippines.

"Natural disasters kill countless tens of thousands of people each year and injure millions, impacting individuals, families and communities. Natural disasters destroy and damage our homes, communities, businesses, ecosystems and other things that we as communities value. They threaten our very existence.

"Certain natural hazards, like bushfires, floods and storms, may be expected to become more frequent or more intense in the future - that without study and intervention will result in increased future disaster losses. As disaster researchers, we have much to do," said Associate Professor Dominey-Howes.

"Whilst we have a range of ongoing research projects, joining the University of Sydney has opened up a whole new set of opportunities, both with new colleagues in the School of Geosciences and also with staff and experts right across the university. In time, we hope to build new collaborations with colleagues my team and I don't yet know. Indeed, if you see a potential for overlap between what our group does and what you do, please get in contact!"


Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 322d241d451b1977010d1c14322523012927365f0e23441c0d41