About

My research focus is on coastal and near-shore environmental physics, involving the synthesis of physical information with the biological and/or chemical characteristics of the environment.  Current work investigates impacts on coral reefs, including coral bleaching and disease, reef resilience and conservation management, within the context of climate change.  This work continues from my time with the US government's NOAA Coral Reef Watch program, with whom I remain affiliated.   I am currently co-leading the development and applications of a tool that rapidly assesses climate vulnerability of World Heritage properties (cvi-heritage.org), working with UNESCO World Heritage Centre and its advisory bodies. I previously held faculty positions at Penn State and Georgetown Universities.

Teaching
  • MB1110: Introductory Marine Science (Level 1; TSV)
  • PH1005: Advanced Stream Physics 1 (Level 1; TSV)
  • PH2006: Marine Physics (Level 2; TSV)
  • PH2009: Advanced Marine Physics (Level 2; TSV)
  • SC1102: Modelling Natural Systems (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • SC1109: Modelling Natural Systems-Advanced (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • SC3010: Sensors and Sensing for Scientists (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
Interests
Professional
  • Creatively communicating science
Research
  • Coastal and near-shore environment
  • Ecological/biological connections
  • Ocean processes
  • Climate vulnerability of World Heritage properties
Experience
  • 2005 to 2019 - Adjunct Principal Research Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2003 to 2019 - Senior Physical Scientist, NOAA Coral Reef Watch (Washington DC/Townsville)
  • 2002 to 2003 - Assistant Professor, Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA)
  • 2001 to 2002 - Assistant Professor, Penn State University (Altoona PA, USA)
Research Disciplines
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 101+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Scott Heron from 1998 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Skyrail Rainforest Foundation - Research Funding

Low-cost Cloud Height Monitoring

Indicative Funding
$2,500 over 1 year
Summary
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is one of the most important environmental regions of northern Queensland - and its ongoing health and the effect of climate change on its ecosystem is of great concern going forward. By monitoring the presence of water vapor over a large time scale it will be possible to detect cloud height patterns and trends potentially damaging changes to the ecosystem. The development of a relatively low-cost monitoring system is important to help acquire field data as many of the current technologies to monitor cloud height are expensive. Providing a low-cost alternative for acquiring these data will allow for further research to be more readily conducted in the future.
Investigators
Samuel Healion, Scott Heron, Owen Kenny, Brendan Calvert and Mark Payne (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Tropical Rainforest; Water vapour content; Wireless sensor networks; Climate Change; Electronic sensor development

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd - Grant

Climate Vulnerability Index Greater Blue Mountains

Indicative Funding
$4,000
Summary
Globally, heritage locations are being impacted by local-scale and global-scale stressors. Climate change poses an existential threat to global heritage. With rising sea-levels, more extreme weather events and aridification, the extensive impacts of climate are evident at heritage sites globally and the pace of this change is startling. In most parts of the world the rate of loss is exceeding adaptive capacity and this deficit is only getting worse. Decisions on conservation and preservation begin with a detailed understanding of a place's vulnerability. The choices made will directly impact that ability to effectively integrate the goals of safeguarding heritage, adapting and mitigating climate change, and driving sustainable development. This project will apply aspects of the Climate Vulnerability Index process to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage property.
Investigators
Scott Heron (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Environmental assessment; Natural heritage; Natural values

Yuku Baja Muliku Landowner & Reserves Ltd - Contract Research

Climate Vulnerability Index - YBM

Indicative Funding
$6,000
Summary
Climate change poses an existential threat to global heritage. With rising sea-levels, more extreme weather events and aridification, the extensive impacts of climate are evident at heritage sites globally and the pace of this change is startling. In most parts of the world the rate of loss is exceeding adaptive capacity and this deficit is only getting worse. Decisions on conservation and preservation begin with a detailed understanding of a place's vulnerability. The choices made will directly impact that ability to effectively integrate the goals of safeguarding heritage, adapting and mitigating climate change, and driving sustainable development. This project will apply the Climate Vulnerability Index process to initiate assessment of the vulnerability of the land and sea country of the Yuku Baja Muliku (YBM) people. There is an urgent need to assess climate vulnerability using community-based methodologies to inform actions taken by decision makers.
Investigators
Scott Heron (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Land and sea country; Climate change; Climate Vulnerability

Seychelles Island Foundation - Contract Research

Climate Vulnerability Index Aldabra

Indicative Funding
$18,575
Summary
Climate change poses an existential threat to global heritage. With rising sea-levels, more extreme weather events and aridification, the extensive impacts of climate are evident at heritage sites globally and the pace of this change is startling. In most parts of the world the rate of loss is exceeding adaptive capacity and this deficit is only getting worse. Decisions on conservation and preservation begin with a detailed understanding of a place's vulnerability. The choices made will directly impact that ability to effectively integrate the goals of safeguarding heritage, adapting and mitigating climate change, and driving sustainable development. This project will apply the Climate Vulnerability Index process to assess the vulnerability of the Aldabra Atoll World Heritage property and its associated communities. There is an urgent need to assess climate vulnerability using community-based methodologies to inform actions taken by decision makers.
Investigators
Scott Heron (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Coral reefs; Sea-surface temperature; Climate change

Common Wadden Sea Secretariat - Contract Research

Climate Vulnerability Index

Indicative Funding
$59,465 over 1 year
Summary
Climate change is the fastest growing threat to World Heritage properties, many of which ?natural, cultural and mixed ? are already being impacted. The Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) is a rapid assessment tool to identify key drivers of vulnerability, opportunities for response and priorities for action across all types of World Heritage properties. The CVI framework considers potential impacts, adaptive capacity, and economic, social and cultural consequences of climate change. Here we propose to apply phase 2 of the CVI process in the Wadden Sea World Heritage property. Continuation of previous project.
Investigators
Scott Heron (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Climate Vulnerability; World Heritage

Global Science & Technology Inc. - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Forecasting coral disease outbreaks across the tropical Pacific Ocean using satellite-derived data

Indicative Funding
$88,532 over 2 years
Summary
The project will develop better models of coral disease outbreak risk across the western tropical Pacific Ocean and embed these into the NOAA Coral Reef Watch decision support system (DSS). The current DSS, at ~50 km SST data, assesses coral disease risk for the Great Barrier Reef and Hawaii for a single disease type. Improvements will be to: increase the spatial resolution to 5 km, and expand to several coral diseases, host species and regions; incorporate short-term SST forecasts; incorporate ocean colour data, where appropriate; and undertake additional targeted coral disease observations.
Investigators
Scott Heron (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Coral Disease; NOAA Coral Reef Watch; NASA Biodiversity and Ecological Forecas; Satellite Data; Pacific Ocean; University of Hawaii

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Developing a mechanistic basis for coral reef conservation

Indicative Funding
$60,000 over 3 years (administered by UNSW)
Summary
The health and reef-building capacity of coral reefs worldwide is challenged by a range of anthropogenic impacts, including global warming, sedimentation, eutrophication and ocean acidification. If coral reef ecosystems are to overcome these environmental challenges and persist into the future, corals must acclimate and/or adapt. This project will provide an evidence base for coral reef conservation to be targeted towards conserving regions that are found to be at greatest risk, and those that have the greatest capacity for resilience, to the projected near future climate change.
Investigators
Tracy Ainsworth, Bill Leggat, Andrew Baird and Scott Heron (The University of New South Wales, The University of Newcastle, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and PortMap Remote Ocean Sensing Pty Ltd)
Keywords
Coral; Coral Reefs; Climate Change

Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences - Contract Research

Norfolk Island baseline reef health assessment

Indicative Funding
$7,500
Summary
Conduct baseline benthic community and coral health surveys (condition and resilience) at Emily Bay/Slaughter Bay and Ball Bay to investigate the structure and health of coral communities.
Investigators
Scott Heron (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Coral Reef; Health Baseline Assessment; Oceanography

Common Wadden Sea Secretariat - Contract Research

Climate Vulnerability Index

Indicative Funding
$15,580
Summary
Climate change is the fastest growing threat to World Heritage properties, many of which - natural, cultural and mixed - are already being impacted. The Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) is a rapid assessment tool to identify key drivers of vulnerability, opportunities for response and priorities for action across all types of World Heritage properties. The CVI framework considers potential impacts, adaptive capacity, and economic, social and cultural consequences of climate change. Here we propose to apply the CVI process in the Wadden Sea World Heritage property.
Investigators
Scott Heron (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Climate Vulnerability; World Heritage
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Improving the current understanding of coral reef thermal dynamics and its implication for predicting coral bleaching (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • A Sea of Voices - Ontological Imaginaires and Making Sense of Climate Change (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • The vulnerability of World Heritage seagrass habitats to climate change. Development and application of a thematic group framework. (Masters , Primary Advisor)
  • Assessing Coral Reef Resilience in Malaysia (Masters , Primary Advisor)
Completed
Data

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.

Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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Email
Phone
Location
  • 14.112, Engineering & Physical Sciences 2 (Townsville campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Primary Advisor
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