2014 Media Releases
Gold Coast canals boost greenhouse gas emissions
ABC Gold Coast
October 14, 2014
Greenhouse gas emissions have increased as a result of canal estates on the Gold Coast according to environmental scientists.
Studies by Southern Cross University show they create a connection between groundwater and the atmosphere leading to higher carbon dioxide concentrations.
Environmental Scientist Paul Macklin says the Gold Coast has the largest estuarine residential canal system in the world and serious thought needs to go into their future management. He explains to Bern Young, Breakfast presenter on 91.7 ABC Gold Coast.
Studies find increased carbon dioxide emissions along canal estates
October 14, 2014
Scientists say greenhouse gas emissions have increased as a result of canal estates on the Gold Coast.
Studies undertaken by Southern Cross University show they create a connection between groundwater and the atmosphere, leading to higher carbon dioxide concentrations.
Environmental scientist Paul Macklin said the Gold Coast has the largest estuarine residential canal system in the world and serious thought needs to go into their future management.
"For the future if people are just going to add onto those canals and keep building inland with no prior management, well this can affect the flushing and connectivity in these dead-end canal areas and it can also produce things such as algal bloom," he said.
"So what we have to do is manage our canals more properly and be a bit more proactive.
"What we found was that the carbon dioxide fluxes increase in artificial canals because their wasn't flushing typical of the river system on the Gold Coast.
"So this is pretty important because on a management point of view it raises the question, can we manage canals and how should we build canals if at all?"
Residential canal estates enhance greenhouse gas emissions from estuaries
October 14, 2014
The construction of residential canal estates within estuarine floodplains can dramatically increase emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, scientists from Southern Cross University have found.
Estuarine canal estate waters: Hotspots for CO2 outgassing driven by enhanced groundwater discharge?, recently published in the journal Marine Chemistry, was co-authored by Mr Paul Macklin, Dr Damien Maher and Associate Professor Isaac Santos.
“Natural estuarine floodplains are areas of intense carbon sequestration. They lock up significant amounts of carbon in soils,” said Paul Macklin, an Honours graduate from the School of Environment, Science and Engineering.
The team measured carbon dioxide concentrations along more than 300km of canal estates, natural estuarine and riverine areas on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast has the largest estuarine residential canal system in the world.
Dr Damien Maher from the University’s Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research said that the results provided convincing evidence that the construction of canals has led to the loss of some ‘blue carbon’ (that is, carbon locked out by coastal vegetation like mangroves, seagrasses and salt marshes).
“We found that canals were areas of intense carbon dioxide flux to the atmosphere. Although canals make up around 30 percent of the waterways area, they contributed to around 50 per cent of the carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.
“This carbon dioxide is likely coming from the breakdown of carbon that has been buried and locked up in the soils over thousands of years, in what were previously extensive mangrove, saltmarsh, and floodplain wetlands,” Dr Maher said.
Associate Professor Isaac Santos, also from the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, said that changes in hydrology seem to control the enhanced carbon dioxide emissions.
“Canals create a connection between groundwater and the atmosphere. This groundwater has extremely high carbon dioxide concentrations. Once it seeps into the rivers, estuaries and canals, the carbon dioxide moves from the water to the atmosphere.