Student profile

Student profile: Joshua Sargent

Joshua Sargent2_fieldwork_in_mangroves

12 April 2022

Understanding the influence of human-climate interactions on coastal flood hazards and risk


My name is Joshua Sargent and I’m originally from Rhode Island (“The Ocean State”), United States. Prior to coming to the University of Waikato, I completed my Bachelors and Masters of Environmental Science at the University of Rhode Island. I began my interest into coastal flooding impacts through a three-year grant project (2017-2019) with the RI Department of Environmental Management and US Environmental Protection Agency. I found out about my current research opportunity through a Twitter post by my now chief advisor Karin Bryan.

When I am not doing research, I am writing poetry and short essays on social-environmental topics, searching out historical maps and making new ones with GIS, drinking coffee, reading non-fiction books, and engaging with other scientists via Twitter (@water_thinker).

My project

Coastal flooding hazards and risks are the combination of human decisions and environmental-climate conditions. These issues will only be amplified by the effects of sea level rise, storm surge, and future land use modifications to the environment. Currently, there are many established approaches (e.g. DAPP and “managed retreat”) to quantify the impacts and decision making in the coastal realm. However, many of these concentration on the relationship of coastal flooding and urban communities, rather than those associated with rural and agricultural lands.

My project focuses on a case study of the Hauraki Plains/Firth of Thames region; this area is known for both its agricultural significance and vulnerability to flooding. By utilizing Delft3D hydrodynamic and socio-hydrological modelling to showcase present and hypothetical scenarios, this project hopes to influence the decision-making process for flood risk planning in coastal agricultural areas throughout New Zealand.

Next steps

My current plan for this project is to finalize my first paper related to applying and adapting a social-hydrological systems dynamics model to the Hauraki Plains/Firth of Thames region. I am hoping to solicit feedback from NIWA, professional organizations, and councils to improve the local constants and variables of the model.

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