The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll

Dr Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll

Senior Honorary Research Fellow
Agriculture and Environment, School of

Contact details
School of Agriculture and Environment
The University of Western Australia (M004)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2714
+61 8 6488 1054
BSc PhD Lond., MSc McG.
• PhD University of London, 1981 (Geomorphology-Quaternary Geology)
• MSc McGill University, Montreal, 1971 (Physical Geography)
• BSc University College London, 1969 (Physical Geography-Geology)
Key research
Geomorphology-Process Sedimentology: mechanics of geomorphological processes; sedimentology of alluvial and eolian depositional environments; geomechanics of rock and soil materials and hillslope mass failures; geomorphology and morphotectonics of active orogens.
Quaternary Geology: alluvial chronology, sedimentology and paleohydrology; sea level history; paleoseismicity and neotectonics of western Australia; stratigraphy of foreland basins of the northern margins of the Tibetan Plateau.
Paleoclimatology: climatic history and mechanisms of climatic change; dynamic climatology of Quaternary climate events with an emphasis on Atmosphere Ocean General Circulation Model (AOGCM) approaches. Monsoon paleoclimatology – northern Australia-East, Asia-South Asia.
Recent publications:

Denniston, R.F., Villarini, G., Gonzales, A.N., Wyrwoll, K-H, Polyak, V.J., Ummenhofer, C.C., Lachniet, M.S., Wanamaker, A.D., Jr., Humphreys, W.H., Woods, D., and Cugley, J. 2015 Extreme rainfall activity in the Australian tropics reflects changes in the El Niño/Southern Oscillation over the last two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Turner, B. L. and Findlater, P. 2014: On the origins, geomorphology and soils of the sandplains of south-western Australia. In: Lambers, H. (Ed) Plant Life on the Sandplains in Southwest Australia: A Global Biodiversity Hotspot, University of Western Australia Press, pp 3-22.

Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Notaro, M. 2014: Aboriginal landscape burning and its impact on the summer monsoon of northern Australia. Australian Archeology, 79: 109-115.

Shao, Y., Klose, M. and Wyrwoll, K.-H. 2013: Global dust: recent history and variability. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 118, 1-12, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50863,2013.

Laliberté, E., Turner, B.L., Zemunik, G., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Pearse, S.J. and Lambers, H. 2013: Nutrient limitation along the Jurien Bay dune chronosequence: response to Uren and Parsons. Journal of Ecology, 101, 1088–1092.

Denniston, R.F., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Polyak, V., Brown, J.R., Asmerom, Y., Wanamaker Jr. A.D., LaPointe, Z., Ellerbroek, R., Barthelmes, M., Cleary, D., Cugley, J., Woods, D. and Humphreys, W. 2013: A Stalagmite Record of Holocene Indonesian-Australian Summer Monsoon Variability from the Australian Tropics. Quaternary Science Reviews, 78, 155-168.

Denniston, R.F. Wyrwoll, K.-H., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V.J., Humphreys, W.F., Cugley, J., Woods, D., LaPointe, Z., Peota, J. and Greaves, E. 2013: North Atlantic forcing of millennial-scale Indo-Australian monsoon dynamics during the Last Glacial period. Quaternary Science Reviews, 72, 159-168.

Laliberte´, E., Turner, B.L., Costes, T., Pearse, S.J.,Wyrwoll, K.-H., Zemunik, G. and Lambers, H. 2012: Experimental assessment of nutrient limitation along a 2-million year dune chronosequence in the south-western Australia biodiversity hotspot. Journal of Ecology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2012.01962.x

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Hopwood, J.M. and Chen, G. 2012: Orbital time-scale circulation controls of the Australian summer monsoon: a possible role for mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere forcing? Quaternary Science Reviews 35 (2012) 23-28, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.01.003.

Liu, D., Chen, H., Lin, X., Wyrwoll, K.-H, Batt, G.E, Cheng, X.G., Li K. and Wang, F. 2012: Three episodes of tectonism in western South Tian Shan during Late Cenozoic: evidences from gravel counting in Wulukeqiati sedimentary succession.
Acta Petrologica Sinica 28 (8), 2414-2422.

Xiao, J., Chen, H., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Wang, X. 2011: Determination of the timing of active structures in Haiyuan-Liupan Shan area: constraints from OSL dating. Earth Science-Journal of China University of Geosciences 36: 993-998, doi: 10.3799/dqkx.2011.105.

Hengesh, J., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Whitney, B. 2011: Neotectonic deformation of northwestern Australia and implications for oil and gas development. Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Frontiers in Offshore Geotechnics, The Netherlands, CD: 203-208.

Notaro, M., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Chen, G. 2011: Did Aboriginal burning impact on the northern Australian monsoon? Geophysical Research Letters 38, L111704, doi:10.1029/2011GL047774, 2011 doi:10.1029/2011GL047774, 2011.

Lin, X., Chen, H., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Batt, G.E., Lin, L. and Xiao, J. 2011: Uplift history of Haiyuan-Liupan Shan northeast of present Tibetan Plateau: Evidences from Stratigraphy and Thermochronology. The Journal of Geology 119: 372-393.

Shao,Y., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Chappell, A., Huang, J., Lin, Z., Grant H. McTainsh, G.H., Mikami, M., Tanaka, T.Y., Wang, X. and Soonchang Yoon, S. 2011: Dust cycle: An emerging core theme in Earth system science. Aeolian Research 2: 181-204.

Lin, X., Chen, H., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Cheng, X. 2010: Commencing uplift of the Liupan Shan since 10.9 Ma: evidence from the Sikouzi section at its east side. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 37 (4): 350-360.

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Greenstein, B.J., Kendrick, G.W. and Chen, G-S. 2009: The palaeoceonography of the Leeuwin Current: implications for a future world. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, The Leeuwin Current, Leeuwin Current Symposium 2007. 92 (2): 37-51.

Lin, X., Chen, H., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Cheng, X., Wang, X., Fu, K., Liao, L., Xiao, J. and Krapez, B. 2009: Uplift of the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau: evidence from the Xiaohonggou Section in Tongxin, Ningxia. Acta Geologica Sinica (in Chinese with English abstract), 83: 455-467.

Clark, D., Dentith, M., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Lu, Y., Dent, V. and Featherstone, W. 2008: Hyden Fault Scarp, Western Australia: palaeoseismic evidence for repeated Quaternary displacement in an intracratonic setting. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 55: 379-395.

Byrne, M., Yeates, D.K., Kearney, J.M., Bowler, J., Williams, M.A.J., Cooper, S., Donnellan, C., Keogh, J.S., Leys, R., Melville, J., Murphy, D.J., Porch, N. and Wyrwoll, K.-H. 2008: Birth of a biome: insights into the assembly and maintenance of the Australian arid zone biota. Molecular Biology, 17: 4398-4417.

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Liu, Z., Chen, G., Kutzbach, J.E. and Liu, X. 2007: Sensitivity of the Australian summer monsoon to tilt and precession forcing. Quaternary Science Reviews, 26 (25-28): 3043-3057.

Estrada, B., Clark, D., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Dentith, M. 2006: Paleoseismic investigation of a recently identified Quaternary fault in Western Australia: the Dumbleyung Fault. Proceedings of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society, Canberra, ACT, 24-26 November: 189-194.

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Zhu, Z.R., Collins, L.B. and Hatcher, B.G. 2006: Origin of blue hole structures in coral reefs: the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia. Journal of Coastal Research, 22 (1) 202-208.

Chen, J., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Lu, Y., Krapez, B., Wan, J. and Liu, J. 2006: Magnetochronology of the Yumen Conglomerates and thrusting in the northern Qilianshan. Quaternary Sciences, 26 (1): 20-31.

Sandercock, P.J. and Wyrwoll, K.-H. 2005: The historical and paleoflood record of Katherine River, Northern Australia: evaluating the likelihood of extreme discharge events in the context of the 1998 flood. Hydrological Processes, 19 (20): 4107-4120.

Wang, P., Lu, Y., Chen, J. and Wyrwoll, K.-H., 2004: The response of the development features of the Shule River alluvial fan to tectonic activity. Quaternary Sciences, 24 (1): 74-81.

Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Valdes, P. 2003: Insolation forcing of the Australian monsoon as controls of Pleistocene mega-lake events. Geophysical Research Letters, 30 (24): 2279-2283.

Wyrwoll, K.-H. 2003: An engineering geomorphology of the wider Perth region, Western Australia. In: Baynes, F. (ed.) The Engineering Geology of Perth (Part 1). Special Publication of the Australian Geomechanics Society, Australian Geomechanics, 38: 17-32.

Collins, L.B., Zhu, Z.R., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Eisenhauer, A. 2003: Late Quaternary structure and development of the northern Ningaloo Reef, Australia. Sedimentary Geology, Special Volume: Late Quaternary Reef Development, 159: 81-94.

Thomas, G.A., Allen, D.G., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Cooling, D. and Glenister, D. 2002: Capacity of clay seals to retain residue leachate. Proceedings of the 6th International Alumina Quality Workshop. Brisbane, Queensland. 8-13 September, 2002: p. 233-239.

Bowler, J.M., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Lu, Y. 2001: Variations of the northwest Australian summer monsoon over the last circa 300 000 years: the paleohydrological record of the Lake Gregory Lakes System. Quaternary International, 83-85: 63-80.

Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Miller, G. 2001: Initiation of the Australian summer monsoon 14,000 years ago. Quaternary International, 83-85: 119-128.

George, A.D., Marshallsea, S.J., Wyrwoll, K.-H., Chen, J. and Lu, Y. 2001: Miocene cooling in the northern Qilian Shan, northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, revealed by apatite fission-track and vitrinite-reflectance analysis. Geology, 29: 939-942.

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Dong, B. and Valdes, P. 2000: On the position of the southern hemisphere westerlies at the Last Glacial Maximum: an outline of AGCM simulation results and evaluation of their implication. Quaternary Science Reviews, 19: 881-898.

Kuhnert, H., Plaetzold, J., Wyrwoll, K.-H. and Wefner, G. 2000: Monitoring climate variability over the past 116 years in coral stable isotopes from Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. International Journal of Earth Science, 88: 725-732.

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Sandercock, P. and Courtney, J. 2000: The climatic environment of the Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia. In: Burbidge, A.H., Harvey, M.S. and McKenzie, N.L. (eds.). Biodiversity of the southern Carnarvon Basin. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement No. 61: 13-27.

Wyrwoll, K.-H., Stoneman, T., Eliott, G. and Sandercock, P. 2000: Geoecological setting of the Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia: geology, geomorphology and soils of selected sites. In: Burbidge, A.H., Harvey, M.S. and McKenzie, N.L. (eds.) Biodiversity of the southern Carnarvon Basin. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement No. 61: 29-75.
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.
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.

Industrial relevance
• Hydrogeology of the Perth Basin
• Alluvial diamond exploration strategies
• Slope stability
• Stream restoration
German; English
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)

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)

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.

Current external positions
Inaugural Member, Scientific Advisory Council, Kimberley Foundation Australia (2007-)

Useful links
• Center for Climate Research (CCR), University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

• Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Koeln, Germany

• International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Beijing, China

• Dept. of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

• Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, China
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.

Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM