Associate Professor Peter Cowell

F09 - Madsen Building
The University of Sydney

Research interests

Research interests are in the geomorphology of coasts and continental shelves; or more specifically, the nature of change in coastal landforms and the processes responsible for such change (known formally as the field of coastal morphodynamics). The research involves the combined use of field data and computer modeling to yield information that is otherwise unattainable, with the application of formal methods for managing uncertainty. This approach is applied to estimation of sediment transport and coastal change relevant to coastal management and coastal impacts of climate change, as well as to geological exploration. Research is being undertaken on four continents in collaboration with other coastal scientists from Australia, Europe and the Americas. This work has focused on clastic coasts (sand and mud deposits), and was expanded recently to include the morphodynamics of coral atolls (in collaboration with other coastal scientists from Australia and New Zealand).

Selected grants

2011

  • A model framework for assessing risk and adaptation to climate change on Australian coasts; Woodroffe C, Cowell P, Callaghan D; National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility/Climate Change Adaptation Research Grants.

2010

  • Shoreface translation modelling for south west Western Australia; Cowell P, Barry S; Geoscience Australia/Research Support.

2000

  • Rip current dynamics - social and shoreline implications and management; Short A, Cowell P, Symonds G, McLeod K; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Strategic Partnerships with Industry - Research and Training (SPIRT).

Selected publications

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Books

  • Arthington, A., Booth, T., Cowell, P., Hennessy, K., Howden, M., Hughes, L., Roger, J., Lake, S., Lyne, V., McMichael, A., et al (2003). Climate Change: An Australian Guide to the Science and Potential Impacts. Australia: Australian Greenhouse Office.

Book Chapters

  • Cowell, P., Kinsela, M. (2018). Shoreface controls on barrier evolution and shoreline change. In Laura J. Moore, A. Brad Murray (Eds.), Barrier Dynamics and Response to Changing Climate, (pp. 243-275). Cham: Springer International Publishing. [More Information]
  • Stive, M., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P. (2010). Sea Level Rise and Coastal Erosion. In Young C Kim (Eds.), Handbook of Coastal and Ocean Engineering, (pp. 1023-1037). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.
  • Church, J., White, N., Hunter, J., McInnes, K., Cowell, P., O'Farell, S. (2008). Sea-level Rise. In Peter W Newton (Eds.), Transitions: Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia, (pp. 191-209). Collingwood Australia: CSIRO Publishing.

Journals

  • French, J., Payo, A., Murray, B., Orford, J., Eliot, M., Cowell, P. (2016). Appropriate complexity for the prediction of coastal and estuarine geomorphic behaviour at decadal to centennial scales. Geomorphology, 256, 3-16. [More Information]
  • Kinsela, M., Daley, M., Cowell, P. (2016). Origins of Holocene coastal strandplains in Southeast Australia: Shoreface sand supply driven by disequilibrium morphology. Marine Geology, 374, 14-30. [More Information]
  • Wainwright, D., Ranasinghe, R., Callaghan, D., Woodroffe, C., Jongejan, R., Dougherty, A., Rogers, K., Cowell, P. (2015). Moving from deterministic towards probabilistic coastal hazard and risk assessment: Development of a modelling framework and application to Narrabeen Beach, New South Wales, Australia. Coastal Engineering, 96, 92-99. [More Information]
  • Wainwright, D., Ranasinghe, R., Callaghan, D., Woodroffe, C., Cowell, P., Rogers, K. (2014). An argument for probabilistic coastal hazard assessment: Retrospective examination of practice in New South Wales, Australia. Ocean and Coastal Management, 95, 147-155. [More Information]
  • Jiang, A., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P. (2013). Contemporary hydrodynamics and morphological change of a microtidal estuary: a numerical modelling study. Ocean Dynamics: theoretical, computational oceanography and monitoring, 63(1), 21-41. [More Information]
  • Ferraz, M., Cowell, P., Rebelo, L. (2011). Coastal-change estimates inferred from remnant cliff-top dunes. Journal of Coastal Research, S1 64, 661-665.
  • Jiang, A., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P. (2011). Hydrodynamic variability along a low-energy estuarine beach located in an open estuary. Australian Journal of Civil Engineering, 9(1), 113-128. [More Information]
  • Jiang, A., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P., Savioli, J. (2011). Tidal asymmetry of a shallow well-mixed estuary and the implications on net sediment transport: A numerical modelling study. Australian Journal of Civil Engineering, 9(1), 1-18. [More Information]
  • Thom, B., Keene, J., Cowell, P., Daley, M. (2010). East Australian marine abrasion surface. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 346, 57-69. [More Information]
  • Barry, S., Cowell, P., Woodroffe, C. (2008). Growth-limiting size of atoll-islets: morphodynamics in nature. Marine Geology, 247(3-4), 159-177. [More Information]
  • Barry, S., Cowell, P., Woodroffe, C. (2007). A morphodynamic model of reef-island development on atolls. Sedimentary Geology, 197(2007), 47-63. [More Information]
  • Figueiredo, S., Cowell, P., Short, A. (2007). Intermittent backbeach discharge to the surfzone: modes and geomorphologic implications. Journal of Coastal Research, (50), 610-614.
  • Figueiredo, S., Cowell, P., Short, A. (2007). Intermittent discharge of backbarrier water to the surfzone: modes and geomorphologic implications. Journal of Coastal Research, SI 50, 610-614.
  • Cowell, P., Thom, B., Jones, R., Everts, C., Simanovic, D. (2006). Management of uncertainty in predicting climate-change impacts on beaches. Journal of Coastal Research, 22(1), 232-245. [More Information]
  • Cowell, P., Thom, B. (2006). Reply to: Pilkey, O.H. and Cooper, A.G., 2006. Discussion of: Cowell et al., 2006. Management of Uncertainty in Predicting Climate-Change Impacts on Beaches, Journal of Coastal Research, 22(2), 232-245; Journal of Coastal Reseearch 22 (6) 1577-1579. Journal of Coastal Research, 22(6), 1580-1584. [More Information]
  • Tortora, P., Cowell, P. (2005). Principi geometrici nei sistemi costieri transgressivi, Parte 1a: Processi di migrazione del litorale. Geologica Romona, 38, 61-75.
  • Tortora, P., Cowell, P. (2005). Principi geometrici nei sistemi costieri transgressivi, Parte 2a: La preservazione di litosomi litorali su piattaforme continentali a debole pendenza. Geologica Romona, 38, 77-96.
  • Hennecke, W., Greve, C., Cowell, P., Thom, B. (2004). Gis-Based Coastal Behavior Modeling And Simulation Of Potential Land And Property Loss: Implications Of Sea-Level Rise At Collaroy/Narrabeen Beach, Sydney (Australia). Coastal Management, 32(4), 449-470. [More Information]
  • Brander, R., Cowell, P. (2003). A trend-surface technique for discrimination of surf-zone morphology: rip current channels. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 28(8), 905-918. [More Information]
  • Cowell, P., Zeng, T. (2003). Integrating uncertainty theories with GIS for modeling coastal hazards of climate change. Marine Geodesy, 26(1&2), 5-18. [More Information]
  • Cowell, P., Stive, M., Niedoroda, A., de Vriend, H., Swift, D., Kaminsky, G., Capobianco, M. (2003). The coastal-tract (part 1): A conceptual approach to aggregated modeling of low-order coastal change. Journal of Coastal Research, 19(4), 812-827.
  • Cowell, P., Stive, M., Niedoroda, A., Swift, D., de Vriend, H., Buijsman, M., Nicholls, R., Roy, P., Kaminsky, G., Cleveringa, J., et al (2003). The coastal-tract (part 2): applications of aggregated modeling of lower-order coastal change. Journal of Coastal Research, 19(4), 828-848.
  • Zeng, T., Cowell, P., Zhou,, Q., Huang,, H. (2001). Coastal GIS: Functionality versus applications. Journal of Geospatial Engineering, 3, No. 2, 109-126.
  • Cowell, P., Short, A., Brander, R. (2001). Morphometric Approaches to Describing Rip Current Behaviour. Journal of Coastal Research, 34, 128-137.
  • Cowell, P., Kench, P. (2001). The Morphological Response of Atoll Islands to Sea-Level Rise. Part 1: Modifications to the Shoreface Translation Model. Journal of Coastal Research, 34, 633-644.
  • Cowell, P., Kench, P. (2001). The morphological response of atoll islands to sea-level rise. Part 2: application of the modified shoreface translation model (STM). Journal of Coastal Research, 34, 645-656.

Conferences

  • De Figueiredo, S., Cowell, P. (2016). Sensitivity of shoreline-recession forecasts to sediment budget uncertainties. 14th International Coastal Symposium (ICS 2016), Sydney: Geocoastal Research Group. [More Information]
  • Bruce, E., Bruce, L., Cowell, P. (2011). Incorporating geomorphic zonation in nutrient models for coastal-estuarine environments: coupling GIS and aquatic ecosystem modeling. 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM 2011), Perth: Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc (MSSANZ).
  • Jiang, A., Vila-Concejo, A., Cowell, P., Allery, C., Ranasinghe, R. (2009). Flood-tide delta morphodynamics and management implications, Port Stephens, Australia. ARC Linkage 2007-2010: Port Stephens Flood Tide Delta Shoreline Management Issues, New Zealand: New Zealand Coastal Society.
  • Zeng, T., Cowell, P., Hickey, D. (2007). Predicting climate change impacts on mangrove and saltmarsh distribution: GIS fuzzy set methods. Coast GIS 2006, Wollongong: Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security(ANCORS).
  • Kaminsky, G., Ferland, M., Cowell, P., Moritz, H., Ruggiero, P. (2007). Shoreface response to sediment deficit. 6th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, Reston, Virginia: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
  • Cowell, P., Hardwick, S. (2006). Implictions of beach type for the fate of marine oil spills. CoastGIS'06, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Cowell, P., Zeng, T., Hickey, D. (2006). Predicting climate change impacts on saltmarsh and mangrove distribution: GIS fuzzy set methods. CoastGIS'06, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Cowell, P., Zeng, T. (2006). Simple crosscheck method to filter airborne laser scanning data for DEM generation. CoastGIS'06, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Zeng, T., Hudson, J., Cowell, P. (2003). Capacity building in coastal geographic information systems. Coastal GIS 2003: an integreated approach to Australian coastal issues, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Bruce, E., Cowell, P., Stolper, D. (2003). Development of a GIS-based estuary sedimentation model. Coastal GIS 2003: an integreated approach to Australian coastal issues, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Kench, P., Cowell, P. (2002). Variations in sediment production and implications for atoll island stability under rising sea level. 9th International Coral Reef Symposium.
  • West, A., Cowell, P., Battjes, J., Stive, M., Doorn, N., Roelvink, J. (2002). Wave-focusing surfing reefs - a new concept. 3rd International Surfing Reef Symposium, New Zealand: ASR Ltd.

Magazine / Newspaper Articles

  • Kench, P., Cowell, P. (2002). Erosion of low-lying reef islands. Tiempo, 46.

Report

  • Cowell, P., Stive, M., Kaminsky, G., Buijsman, M. (2002). Shoreface sand supply for barrier progradation.

Reference Works

  • Thom, B., Cowell, P. (2005). Coastal changes, gradual. Encyclopedia of Coastal Science. (Vol. 1, pp. 251-253). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

2018

  • Cowell, P., Kinsela, M. (2018). Shoreface controls on barrier evolution and shoreline change. In Laura J. Moore, A. Brad Murray (Eds.), Barrier Dynamics and Response to Changing Climate, (pp. 243-275). Cham: Springer International Publishing. [More Information]

2016

  • French, J., Payo, A., Murray, B., Orford, J., Eliot, M., Cowell, P. (2016). Appropriate complexity for the prediction of coastal and estuarine geomorphic behaviour at decadal to centennial scales. Geomorphology, 256, 3-16. [More Information]
  • Kinsela, M., Daley, M., Cowell, P. (2016). Origins of Holocene coastal strandplains in Southeast Australia: Shoreface sand supply driven by disequilibrium morphology. Marine Geology, 374, 14-30. [More Information]
  • De Figueiredo, S., Cowell, P. (2016). Sensitivity of shoreline-recession forecasts to sediment budget uncertainties. 14th International Coastal Symposium (ICS 2016), Sydney: Geocoastal Research Group. [More Information]

2015

  • Wainwright, D., Ranasinghe, R., Callaghan, D., Woodroffe, C., Jongejan, R., Dougherty, A., Rogers, K., Cowell, P. (2015). Moving from deterministic towards probabilistic coastal hazard and risk assessment: Development of a modelling framework and application to Narrabeen Beach, New South Wales, Australia. Coastal Engineering, 96, 92-99. [More Information]

2014

  • Wainwright, D., Ranasinghe, R., Callaghan, D., Woodroffe, C., Cowell, P., Rogers, K. (2014). An argument for probabilistic coastal hazard assessment: Retrospective examination of practice in New South Wales, Australia. Ocean and Coastal Management, 95, 147-155. [More Information]

2013

  • Jiang, A., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P. (2013). Contemporary hydrodynamics and morphological change of a microtidal estuary: a numerical modelling study. Ocean Dynamics: theoretical, computational oceanography and monitoring, 63(1), 21-41. [More Information]

2011

  • Ferraz, M., Cowell, P., Rebelo, L. (2011). Coastal-change estimates inferred from remnant cliff-top dunes. Journal of Coastal Research, S1 64, 661-665.
  • Jiang, A., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P. (2011). Hydrodynamic variability along a low-energy estuarine beach located in an open estuary. Australian Journal of Civil Engineering, 9(1), 113-128. [More Information]
  • Bruce, E., Bruce, L., Cowell, P. (2011). Incorporating geomorphic zonation in nutrient models for coastal-estuarine environments: coupling GIS and aquatic ecosystem modeling. 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM 2011), Perth: Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc (MSSANZ).
  • Jiang, A., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P., Savioli, J. (2011). Tidal asymmetry of a shallow well-mixed estuary and the implications on net sediment transport: A numerical modelling study. Australian Journal of Civil Engineering, 9(1), 1-18. [More Information]

2010

  • Thom, B., Keene, J., Cowell, P., Daley, M. (2010). East Australian marine abrasion surface. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 346, 57-69. [More Information]
  • Stive, M., Ranasinghe, R., Cowell, P. (2010). Sea Level Rise and Coastal Erosion. In Young C Kim (Eds.), Handbook of Coastal and Ocean Engineering, (pp. 1023-1037). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.

2009

  • Jiang, A., Vila-Concejo, A., Cowell, P., Allery, C., Ranasinghe, R. (2009). Flood-tide delta morphodynamics and management implications, Port Stephens, Australia. ARC Linkage 2007-2010: Port Stephens Flood Tide Delta Shoreline Management Issues, New Zealand: New Zealand Coastal Society.

2008

  • Barry, S., Cowell, P., Woodroffe, C. (2008). Growth-limiting size of atoll-islets: morphodynamics in nature. Marine Geology, 247(3-4), 159-177. [More Information]
  • Church, J., White, N., Hunter, J., McInnes, K., Cowell, P., O'Farell, S. (2008). Sea-level Rise. In Peter W Newton (Eds.), Transitions: Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia, (pp. 191-209). Collingwood Australia: CSIRO Publishing.

2007

  • Barry, S., Cowell, P., Woodroffe, C. (2007). A morphodynamic model of reef-island development on atolls. Sedimentary Geology, 197(2007), 47-63. [More Information]
  • Figueiredo, S., Cowell, P., Short, A. (2007). Intermittent backbeach discharge to the surfzone: modes and geomorphologic implications. Journal of Coastal Research, (50), 610-614.
  • Figueiredo, S., Cowell, P., Short, A. (2007). Intermittent discharge of backbarrier water to the surfzone: modes and geomorphologic implications. Journal of Coastal Research, SI 50, 610-614.
  • Zeng, T., Cowell, P., Hickey, D. (2007). Predicting climate change impacts on mangrove and saltmarsh distribution: GIS fuzzy set methods. Coast GIS 2006, Wollongong: Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security(ANCORS).
  • Kaminsky, G., Ferland, M., Cowell, P., Moritz, H., Ruggiero, P. (2007). Shoreface response to sediment deficit. 6th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, Reston, Virginia: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

2006

  • Cowell, P., Hardwick, S. (2006). Implictions of beach type for the fate of marine oil spills. CoastGIS'06, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Cowell, P., Thom, B., Jones, R., Everts, C., Simanovic, D. (2006). Management of uncertainty in predicting climate-change impacts on beaches. Journal of Coastal Research, 22(1), 232-245. [More Information]
  • Cowell, P., Zeng, T., Hickey, D. (2006). Predicting climate change impacts on saltmarsh and mangrove distribution: GIS fuzzy set methods. CoastGIS'06, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Cowell, P., Thom, B. (2006). Reply to: Pilkey, O.H. and Cooper, A.G., 2006. Discussion of: Cowell et al., 2006. Management of Uncertainty in Predicting Climate-Change Impacts on Beaches, Journal of Coastal Research, 22(2), 232-245; Journal of Coastal Reseearch 22 (6) 1577-1579. Journal of Coastal Research, 22(6), 1580-1584. [More Information]
  • Cowell, P., Zeng, T. (2006). Simple crosscheck method to filter airborne laser scanning data for DEM generation. CoastGIS'06, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.

2005

  • Thom, B., Cowell, P. (2005). Coastal changes, gradual. Encyclopedia of Coastal Science. (Vol. 1, pp. 251-253). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
  • Tortora, P., Cowell, P. (2005). Principi geometrici nei sistemi costieri transgressivi, Parte 1a: Processi di migrazione del litorale. Geologica Romona, 38, 61-75.
  • Tortora, P., Cowell, P. (2005). Principi geometrici nei sistemi costieri transgressivi, Parte 2a: La preservazione di litosomi litorali su piattaforme continentali a debole pendenza. Geologica Romona, 38, 77-96.

2004

  • Hennecke, W., Greve, C., Cowell, P., Thom, B. (2004). Gis-Based Coastal Behavior Modeling And Simulation Of Potential Land And Property Loss: Implications Of Sea-Level Rise At Collaroy/Narrabeen Beach, Sydney (Australia). Coastal Management, 32(4), 449-470. [More Information]

2003

  • Brander, R., Cowell, P. (2003). A trend-surface technique for discrimination of surf-zone morphology: rip current channels. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 28(8), 905-918. [More Information]
  • Zeng, T., Hudson, J., Cowell, P. (2003). Capacity building in coastal geographic information systems. Coastal GIS 2003: an integreated approach to Australian coastal issues, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Arthington, A., Booth, T., Cowell, P., Hennessy, K., Howden, M., Hughes, L., Roger, J., Lake, S., Lyne, V., McMichael, A., et al (2003). Climate Change: An Australian Guide to the Science and Potential Impacts. Australia: Australian Greenhouse Office.
  • Bruce, E., Cowell, P., Stolper, D. (2003). Development of a GIS-based estuary sedimentation model. Coastal GIS 2003: an integreated approach to Australian coastal issues, Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
  • Cowell, P., Zeng, T. (2003). Integrating uncertainty theories with GIS for modeling coastal hazards of climate change. Marine Geodesy, 26(1&2), 5-18. [More Information]
  • Cowell, P., Stive, M., Niedoroda, A., de Vriend, H., Swift, D., Kaminsky, G., Capobianco, M. (2003). The coastal-tract (part 1): A conceptual approach to aggregated modeling of low-order coastal change. Journal of Coastal Research, 19(4), 812-827.
  • Cowell, P., Stive, M., Niedoroda, A., Swift, D., de Vriend, H., Buijsman, M., Nicholls, R., Roy, P., Kaminsky, G., Cleveringa, J., et al (2003). The coastal-tract (part 2): applications of aggregated modeling of lower-order coastal change. Journal of Coastal Research, 19(4), 828-848.

2002

  • Kench, P., Cowell, P. (2002). Erosion of low-lying reef islands. Tiempo, 46.
  • Cowell, P., Stive, M., Kaminsky, G., Buijsman, M. (2002). Shoreface sand supply for barrier progradation.
  • Kench, P., Cowell, P. (2002). Variations in sediment production and implications for atoll island stability under rising sea level. 9th International Coral Reef Symposium.
  • West, A., Cowell, P., Battjes, J., Stive, M., Doorn, N., Roelvink, J. (2002). Wave-focusing surfing reefs - a new concept. 3rd International Surfing Reef Symposium, New Zealand: ASR Ltd.

2001

  • Zeng, T., Cowell, P., Zhou,, Q., Huang,, H. (2001). Coastal GIS: Functionality versus applications. Journal of Geospatial Engineering, 3, No. 2, 109-126.
  • Cowell, P., Short, A., Brander, R. (2001). Morphometric Approaches to Describing Rip Current Behaviour. Journal of Coastal Research, 34, 128-137.
  • Cowell, P., Kench, P. (2001). The Morphological Response of Atoll Islands to Sea-Level Rise. Part 1: Modifications to the Shoreface Translation Model. Journal of Coastal Research, 34, 633-644.
  • Cowell, P., Kench, P. (2001). The morphological response of atoll islands to sea-level rise. Part 2: application of the modified shoreface translation model (STM). Journal of Coastal Research, 34, 645-656.

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