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(2022) Zhang, QiThesisAs a dominant terrestrial ecosystem of the Earth, forest environments play profound roles in ecology, biodiversity, resource utilization, and management, which highlights the significance of forest characterization and monitoring. Some forest parameters can help track climate change and quantify the global carbon cycle and therefore attract growing attention from various research communities. Compared with traditional in-situ methods with expensive and time-consuming field works involved, airborne and spaceborne remote sensors collect cost-efficient and consistent observations at global or regional scales and have been proven to be an effective way for forest monitoring. With the looming paradigm shift toward data-intensive science and the development of remote sensors, remote sensing data with higher resolution and diversity have been the mainstream in data analysis and processing. However, significant heterogeneities in the multi-source remote sensing data largely restrain its forest applications urging the research community to come up with effective synergistic strategies. The work presented in this thesis contributes to the field by exploring the potential of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), SAR Polarimetry (PolSAR), SAR Interferometry (InSAR), Polarimetric SAR Interferometry (PolInSAR), Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), and multispectral remote sensing in forest characterization and monitoring from three main aspects including forest height estimation, active fire detection, and burned area mapping. First, the forest height inversion is demonstrated using airborne L-band dual-baseline repeat-pass PolInSAR data based on modified versions of the Random Motion over Ground (RMoG) model, where the scattering attenuation and wind-derived random motion are described in conditions of homogeneous and heterogeneous volume layer, respectively. A boreal and a tropical forest test site are involved in the experiment to explore the flexibility of different models over different forest types and based on that, a leveraging strategy is proposed to boost the accuracy of forest height estimation. The accuracy of the model-based forest height inversion is limited by the discrepancy between the theoretical models and actual scenarios and exhibits a strong dependency on the system and scenario parameters. Hence, high vertical accuracy LiDAR samples are employed to assist the PolInSAR-based forest height estimation. This multi-source forest height estimation is reformulated as a pan-sharpening task aiming to generate forest heights with high spatial resolution and vertical accuracy based on the synergy of the sparse LiDAR-derived heights and the information embedded in the PolInSAR data. This process is realized by a specifically designed generative adversarial network (GAN) allowing high accuracy forest height estimation less limited by theoretical models and system parameters. Related experiments are carried out over a boreal and a tropical forest to validate the flexibility of the method. An automated active fire detection framework is proposed for the medium resolution multispectral remote sensing data. The basic part of this framework is a deep-learning-based semantic segmentation model specifically designed for active fire detection. A dataset is constructed with open-access Sentinel-2 imagery for the training and testing of the deep-learning model. The developed framework allows an automated Sentinel-2 data download, processing, and generation of the active fire detection results through time and location information provided by the user. Related performance is evaluated in terms of detection accuracy and processing efficiency. The last part of this thesis explored whether the coarse burned area products can be further improved through the synergy of multispectral, SAR, and InSAR features with higher spatial resolutions. A Siamese Self-Attention (SSA) classification is proposed for the multi-sensor burned area mapping and a multi-source dataset is constructed at the object level for the training and testing. Results are analyzed by different test sites, feature sources, and classification methods to assess the improvements achieved by the proposed method. All developed methods are validated with extensive processing of multi-source data acquired by Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), Land, Vegetation, and Ice Sensor (LVIS), PolSARproSim+, Sentinel-1, and Sentinel-2. I hope these studies constitute a substantial contribution to the forest applications of multi-source remote sensing.
(2021) Alohali, Ruaa Tawfiq AThesisThe Arabian basin was subject to several tectonic events, including Lower Cambrian Najd rifting, the Carboniferous Hercynian Orogeny, Triassic Zagros rifting, and the Early/Cretaceous and Late/Tertiary Alpine orogenic events. These events reactivated Precambrian basement structures and affected the structural configuration of the overlying Paleozoic cover succession. In addition to a 2D seismic array and several drill well logs, a newly acquired, processed 3D seismic image of the subsurface in part of the basin covering an area of approximately 1051 km2 has been provided to improve the understanding of the regional tectonic evolution associated with these deformation events. In this study, a manual interpretation is presented of six main horizons from the Late Ordovician to the Middle Triassic. Faults and folds were also mapped to further constrain the stratigraphic and structural framework. Collectively, this data is used to build a geological model of the region and develop a timeline of geological events. Results show that a lower Paleozoic sedimentary succession between the Late Silurian to the Early Permian was subject to localised tilting, uplift, and erosion during the Carboniferous Hercynian Orogeny, forming a regional unconformity. Subsequent deposition occurred from the Paleozoic to the Mesozoic, producing a relatively thick, conformable, upper succession. The juxtaposition of the Silurian rocks and Permian formations allows a direct fluid flow between the two intervals. Seismic analysis also indicated two major fault generations. A younger NNW-striking fault set with a component of reverse, east-side-up displacement affected the Lower Triassic succession and is most likely related to the Cretaceous and Tertiary Alpine Events that reactivated the Najd fault system. These fault structures allow vertical migration that could act as conduits to form structural traps. Manual mapping of fault structures in the study area required significant time and effort. To simplify and accelerate the manual faults interpretation in the study area, a fault segmentation method was developed using a Convolutional Neural Network. This method was implemented using the 3D seismic data acquired from the Arabian Basin. The network was trained, validated, and tested with samples that included a seismic cube and fault images that were labelled manually corresponding to the seismic cube. The model successfully identified faults with an accuracy of 96% and an error rate of 0.12 on the training dataset. To achieve a more robust model, the prediction results were further enhanced using postprocessing by linking discontinued segments of the same fault and thus, reducing the number of detected faults. This method improved the accuracy of the prediction results of the proposed model using the test dataset by 77.5%. Additionally, an efficient framework was introduced to correlate the predictions and the ground truth by measuring their average distance value. This technique was also applied to the F3 Netherlands survey, which showed promising results in another region with complex fault geometries. As a result of the automated technique developed here, fault detection and diagnosis were achieved efficiently with structures similar to the trained dataset and has a huge potential in improving exploration targets that are structurally controlled by faults.
Advancing understanding of development policy impacts on transboundary river basins: Integrated watershed modelling of the Lower Mekong Basin.(2021) Ly, KongmengThesisThe management of transboundary river basins across developing countries, such as the Lower Mekong River Basin (LMB), is frequently challenging given the development and conservation divergences of the basin countries. Driven by needs to sustain economic performance and reduce poverty, the LMB countries are embarking on significant land use changes in the form hydropower dams, to fulfill their energy requirements. This pathway could lead to irreversible changes to the ecosystem of the Mekong River, if not properly managed. This thesis aims to explore the potential effects of changes in land use —with a focus on current and projected hydropower operations— on the Lower Mekong River network streamflow and instream water quality. To achieve this aim, this thesis first examined the relationships between the basin land use/land cover attributes, and streamflow and instream water quality dynamics of the Mekong River, using total suspended solids and nitrate as proxies for water quality. Findings from this allowed framing challenges of integrated water management of transboundary river basins. These were used as criteria for selecting eWater’s Source modelling framework as a management tool that can support decision-making in the socio-ecological context of the LMB. Against a combination of predictive performance metrics and hydrologic signatures, the model’s application in the LMB was found to robustly simulate streamflow, TSS and nitrate time series. The model was then used for analysing four plausible future hydropower development scenarios, under extreme climate conditions and operational alternatives. This revealed that hydropower operations on either tributary or mainstream could result in annual and wet season flow reduction while increasing dry season flows compared to a baseline scenario. Conversely, hydropower operation on both tributary and mainstream could result in dry season flow reduction. Both instream TSS and nitrate loads were predicted to reduce under all three scenarios compared to the baseline. These effects were found to magnify under extreme climate conditions, but were less severe under improved operational alternatives. In the LMB where hydropower development is inevitable, findings from this thesis provide an enhanced understanding on the importance of operational alternatives as an effective transboundary cooperation and management pathway for balancing electricity generation and protection of riverine ecology, water and food security, and people livelihoods.
Accelerating Australia’s electric vehicle uptake: Overcoming socio-technical inertia and bridging the gaps with public policy options designed to transform road transport for a decarbonised future(2023) Broadbent, GailThesisTo obviate significant and growing road vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contributing to climate change, transitioning to battery electric vehicles (BEV) is urgently required to maximise fleet emissions reductions soonest, deploying the most suitable available technology. Many countries have implemented policies to incentivise electric vehicle (EV) uptake, which have been well studied. This thesis undertakes novel research by employing a case study of New Zealand to examine consumer responses to EV policies implemented in 2016, plus two mooted policies. Questionnaires and interviews surveyed private motorists from a demand perspective, capturing quantitative and qualitative data to assess attitudes, values, and perceptions of EVs, awareness of government policies, and to reveal those most popular. Employing a unique innovation, four motorist groups (segmented by attitude to EVs, which influences adoption rates) were compared. As additional novelty the role of communication channels, including print media, in influencing consumer behaviour was investigated. Results revealed New Zealand’s conventional motorists, in contrast with EV owners, had low policy awareness, confirming international findings. EV Positives, the next-most ‘EV ready’ segment, favoured policies designed to reduce EV purchase price and increase nationwide charger deployment. Concordant with social marketing research, governments should focus on such buyers’ preferences. Furthermore, to improve BEV readiness, disseminating updated information about EVs via multiple communication channels could shift perceptions of EVs from ‘expensive and inconvenient’ to ‘fun and economical’. Thus, two key concepts namely purchase price-parity and charging infrastructure availability, were incorporated into models specifically for Australia, where policies are limited, to investigate the feasibility of transitioning Australia’s road vehicle fleet to electromobility to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. A national scale, integrated, macro-economic, system dynamics model (iSDG Australia) was used innovatively to project Australia’s future road transport demand, vehicle mix, energy consumption and GHG emissions. Firstly, the model applied numerous ‘adoption target’ scenarios comparing them to Business-as-Usual; secondly, various combinations of policy options were modelled to project potential outcomes and implementation costs. Based on the assumptions, results suggest emissions reductions are maximised by the fastest passenger vehicle fleet transition to BEVs, entailing declining but ongoing transformational government policy support to achieve net-zero by 2050.
Wastewater-based monitoring and genomic characterisation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Sydney community(2023) Zillur Rahman, Kazi MohammadThesisCurrent healthcare infection surveillance rarely monitors the distribution of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria beyond clinical settings in Australia and overseas. This results in a significant gap in our ability to fully understand and manage the spread of AMR in the general community. This thesis explores whether wastewater-based monitoring could reveal geospatial-temporal and demographic trends of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the urban area of Greater Sydney, Australia. Untreated wastewater from 25 wastewater treatment plants sampled between 2017 and 2019 consistently contained extended-spectrum β-lactamases-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-E) isolates, suggesting its endemicity in the community. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates were occasionally detected. Demographic and healthcare infection-related factors correlated with the ESBL-E load, and demographic variables influenced the VRE load. In contrast, the healthcare infection-related factor mainly drove the CRE load. These findings demonstrate the potential of wastewater-based surveillance to understand the factors driving AMR distribution in the community. The subsequent thesis work covers the genomic characterisation of selected ESBL-E and CRE wastewater isolates to reveal their nature, origin, and underlying resistance mechanisms. Phylogenetic analysis showed that Escherichia coli isolates were related to high-risk human-associated pandemic clones and non-human-associated clones. The Klebsiella pneumoniae and K. variicola isolates were related to globally disseminated and emerging human-associated clones, and some were detected for the first time in Australia. Genomic analysis also indicated novel resistance mechanisms against nitrofurantoin in E. coli, and against piperacillin/tazobactam and ticarcillin/clavulanic acid in Klebsiella isolates. The virulence gene content indicated that some E. coli and Klebsiella isolates were likely associated with infections, while the asymptomatic carriage was suggested for other isolates. These results demonstrate a clear potential for wastewater-based surveillance to monitor the emergence and dissemination of resistance in non-clinical isolates, and in particular, isolates from the community and non-human sources. The findings of this study can complement healthcare infection surveillance to inform management strategies to mitigate the emergence and dissemination of AMR and important human pathogens in the general community.