Researcher Profile

Dr Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll

Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll
Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll

Phone: +61 8 6488 2714

Research Expertise:
  • Climatic change, palaeoclimatology
  • Environmental change, environmental history
  • Geomorphology (the study of the physical features and processes of the earths surface)
  • Physical geography


Unit outlines available at

Second Year:
ENVT2220 The Climate System – this unit provides students with an understanding of the nature and function of the global climate system; a familiarity with the climate record of global events and of future climate trends; an appreciation of the use of climate model methods and complexities and uncertainties inherent in predicting future global climates; the ability to interpret synoptic patterns from station model data and satellite images. The unit encourages critical thinking and provides the opportunity for independent research and critical analysis of the scientific literature. Unit coordinator with J. Hopwood (School of Mathematics and Statistics).

EART2222 Geomorphology and Soils – the unit provides an integrated approach to the study of Earth surface processes and soil properties and functions in the context of their landscapes and ecosystems settings. A major concern is with issues of climate and environmental change over both short and long term time scales and their impact on geomorphological processes and soils. Unit coordinator with A. Rate (Soil Science Discipline, School of Earth and Environment).

ENVT2221 Global Climate Change and Biodiversity – this unit focuses on the concept that climate change can drive the evolution of biological diversity. It aims to explain the atmospheric processes that regulate the Earth's climate; the role of climate change in the evolution of the world's ecosystems; the human-induced changes that are occurring in the atmosphere; how these changes affect the global climate which in turn affects biodiversity; and the challenges of biodiversity conservation under climate change.

Third Year:
EART3320 Environmental Change – a broad introduction to the techniques and approaches for investigating environmental change and variability over long and short timescales; future climate change and impacts at the global scale. My contribution to this unit includes lectures on dynamic paleoclimatology and the mechanisms of climate change.

Industrial Relevance

• Hydrogeology of the Perth Basin
• Alluvial diamond exploration strategies
• Slope stability
• Stream restoration


BSc PhD Lond., MSc McG.

Current Projects

• Controls of accelerated erosion and drainage basin and channel response

• Predicting wind erosion and eolian landscape responses to future climate projections in southwestern Australia – with Dept. of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia

• Uplift history of the north western margins of the Tibetan Plateau, northern China – with SEE (UWA) and Dept. of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

Quaternary Geology:
• Late Quaternary paleohydrology and paleoclimates of the semi-arid regions of southwestern Australia: reconstruction of lacustrine and alluvial events.

• Late Cenozoic geology, sealevel events, paleoceanography and neotectonics of the western margin of Australia – with Department of Geology, Cornell College, Iowa, USA.

• Stratigraphy and optical luminescence dating of eolian sediments in southwestern Australia – with Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an, China.

• Paleoclimate modeling of Australian - East Asian monsoon interactions – with Center for Climate Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

• Numerical modeling of wind erosion and dust generation/transport in northen China and central-northern Australia – with Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Koeln, Germany and International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.

• Uranium-Thorium dating and stable isotope composition of speleothems for paleoclimate reconstruction of the north west Australian monsoon – with Department of Geology, Cornell College, Iowa; Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA and Western Australian Museum.

Previous Positions

• Presidential Fellow, Department of Geology, Cornell College, Iowa, USA (2010)

• Visiting Professor, Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Koeln, Germany (2008)

• Honorary Research Fellow, Center for Climatic Research, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA (2005-2006)


American Geophysical Union
Australian Geomechanics Society
International Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment
Geological Society of Australia
International Association of Sedimentologists
Quaternary Research Association (UK)
Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM)

Funding Received

• Competitive Grants:
Australian Research Council
Deutsche Forschungs Gesellschaft
National Science Foundation, China
National Science Foundation, USA
National Geographic Society, USA
International Atomic Energy Agency
Kimberley Foundation Australia

• Government Grants:
Australian Heritage Commission
Dept. of Agriculture and Food, WA
Dept. of Conservation and Environment (DEC), WA
Water and Rivers Commission, WA
Environmental Protection Authority, WA
Dept. of Lands, Planning and Environment, NT
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)

• Major Industry Grants:
Alcoa World Alumina Australia
CRA Exploration/Rio Tinto.

Future Research

Current Postgraduate Students:

F.H. McRobie, "A mesoscale numerical modelling approach to investigating land, ocean and atmospheric feedbacks in the Australian summer monsoon of the Late Quaternary"

J. Steele, “Determining the role of sediments in nutrient fluxes in an engineered drainage network”

L. Baddock: "Hydrogeology and geothermal potential - Perth Basin"

B. Whitney: "Neotectonic deformation in the Stable Continental Region of Western Australia: Paleoseismology of the Mt. Narryer fault zone."

J. Hengesh: "Earthquake and geological hazards on Australia's North West Shelf"

Potential Postgraduate Projects:
Neotectonics of western Australia.
Quaternary sealevel events along the western margins of Australia.
Stratigraphy and sedimentology of eolian and fluvial events and their significance in the reconstruction of the Australian summer monsoon.
Quaternary paleoclimate significance, stratigraphy and geomorphology of dune-lake associations in southwestern Australia.
Neotectonics, geomorphology and foreland basin stratigraphy northwestern China
Atmosphere Ocean General Circulation modelling of low-latitude Quaternary climate events over the last 22 kyrs.
Geomorphological response to projected greenhouse climates.

Potential Honours Projects:
Neotectonics in southwestern Australia over late Quaternary time scales.
Quaternary geology-geomorphology and paleoclimatology.
Extreme rainfall events and erosion in southwestern Australia.
Sediment sources, transport routes and channel response in river basins.
Environmental management and river channel restoration.
Geomorphology and sedimentology of eolian and fluvial environments.
Late Quaternary sealevel events.
Calcretes at the western margins of the Nullarbor Plain.


• PhD University of London, 1981 (Geomorphology-Quaternary Geology)
• MSc McGill University, Montreal, 1971 (Physical Geography)
• BSc University College London, 1969 (Physical Geography-Geology)

ID: 15813

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