Tropical Environmental Change (TEC)

The Research Group


The Tropical Environmental Change (TEC) research group in the Department of Geography, NUS, currently comprises around 35 faculty and graduate research students. The interests of group members, though diverse, cluster around the general theme of environmental change, and in particular the dynamic nature of geo-ecological processes and the human dimensions of low latitude (tropical) regimes. Such regimes are amongst the least studied and therefore most poorly understood on Earth. Environmental change is occurring as a result of both non-human (natural) and human (anthropogenic) forces: the pervasiveness and primacy of anthropogenic contributions, and of the critical importance of low latitude environments, to planetary scale-changes on Earth are increasingly accepted.

Read More


Academic staff

Research Projects

 Geographically, research activities of members of TEC focus on low latitude parts of Asia, increasingly seen as the most rapidly changing part of Earth’s surface, and an important driver of global scale changes in climate, environmental quality, land cover and socio-economic conditions.  A focus on Asia takes advantage of NUS’s physical location and recognises the many contributions that researchers can make towards improving understanding of dynamic processes and the environmental consequences of rapid development, land cover transformation and climate change across the range of local to global scales. Members of the research group have spearheaded projects in the region concerned with sediment and water quality dynamics; forest hydrology and biogeochemical cycles; rainfall-runoff relationships; behaviour of extreme hydro-climatic events and their geomorphic signatures; microclimatology and urban climates; vegetation change; human-environment interactions, including environment and health; and the impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 on coastal systems, settlements and livelihoods.  Beyond Asia, members of the group have extensive experience of environmental change research in other low latitude locations, notably eastern Africa and the Pacific Islands.

TEC researchers have access to improved Earth Science and GIS/Remote Sensing laboratories in the Department of Geography following substantial investments over the last decade.  These facilities continue to be the focus of new investment, providing improved levels of research-focused laboratory and field-based support in Geography.   TEC researchers also participate actively in numerous international research networks, groupings and projects; are members of the editorial boards of several internationally-regarded journals; and frequently host workshops and regional and international conferences.  Moreover, many members of TEC engage in crosscutting research programmes hosted in the research group – details of these can be found via the links to members of academic staff involved in TEC. 


GIS/Remote sensing/geo-techniques

  • A Singapore Historical GIS Analysis: The Transformation of Chinese Institutions (Kenneth Dean, Chinese Studies; Feng Chen-Chieh, Wang Yi-Chen; Ong Chang-Woei, Koh Khee Heong, Chinese Studies; Arthur Tay, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Lily Kong, Feng Yikang, NUS Library)
  • Unified China and divided Europe: The Causes and Consequences of Political Centralization and Fragmentation in the Pre-modern World (Sng Tuan Hwee, Economy; Feng Chen-Chieh, Wang Yi-Chen; Ko Chiu Yu, Economy)
  • Experiential Learning using Sandboxes and Augmented Reality in Natural Sciences (2015-2016) (Nawaz Muhammad, Sandeep Kundu)


Urban climatology

  • Evaluating the thermal regulation of Singapore’s urban green spaces: a multi-method investigation (2016-2018) (Winston Chow)
  • Investigating the resilience of Singapore's water supply to meteorological drought (2016-2017) (Winston Chow)
  • Creating Cooler Parks in the Future (2016-2019) (Winston Chow; Rachel Oh, Cybil Kho, National Parks Board)
  • Cooling Singapore: Urban Heat Island Mitigation (2017-2020) (Winston Chow, Matthias Roth; Peter Edwards, Gerhard Schmitt, Future Cities Lab; Leslie Norford, Singapore-MIT Alliance; Alois Knoll, TUM-CREATE)
  • Three-dimensional observation and modelling of small-scale urban climates in Singapore (2013-2016) (Winston Chow)
  • Integrated, multi-dimensional measurements of temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide in Singapore (10/2014-09/2017) (Tier1; PI Matthias Roth, Winston Chow)
  • Assessing the impact of key climate processes over Singapore (04/2016-04/2018)  (RCA with NEA; PI Matthias Roth, Andrés Simon; with collaborators in Center for Climate Research Singapore)    
  • Energy balance and carbon dioxide exchange over a residential neighbourhood (Matthias Roth; Erik Velasco, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology)
  • Spatial and temporal variability of the urban heat island in Singapore (Matthias Roth; Reuben Li, University of Tokyo)


Hydrology/geomorphology/coastal environments

  • An ecosystem services framework for sustainable coastal management in Singapore (2014-2017) (Dan Friess)
  • Carbon cycles in large Asian rivers (2015-2018) (Lu Xi Xi)
  • Anthropogenic perturbations to carbon export and greenhouse gas evasion from Asian river systems (Ji-Hyung Park, Ewha Womans University, Korea; Lu XX; with 10 collaborators from USA, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, and Bangladeshi)
  • Influence of land-use change on the aquatic carbon loss from the Rajang River (Moritz Muller, Swinburne University of Technology, Kuching, Malaysia; Aazani Mujahid, UNIMAS, Kuching, Malaysia; Massimo Lupascu; Denise Muller, University of Bremen, Germany; Bradley Eyre, Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia; Gonzalo Garrasco, NTU, Singapore; Jing Zhang, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
  • Surface and subsurface elemental dynamics in threatened mangroves of SE Asia (2015-2017) (Ziegler AD)
  • Reconstruction of palaeoflood histories on mainland rivers (R-109-000-174-646) (2014-2016) (Ziegler AD, RJ Wasson)
  • High-resolution late Quaternary environmental and climate change from south-eastern Australia (Chris Gouramanis; Chris Turney, UNSW; John Tibby, University of Adelaide; Peter Kershaw, Monash University).
  • Sedimentological, geochemical, ground penetrating radar, genomic and geostatistical analysis of recent storm and tsunami deposits along the western Thai coastlines (Chris Gouramanis; Adam Switzer, Federico Lauro, NTU; Kruawan Jankaew, Chulalongkorn Univeristy; Charlie Bristow, Birkbeck College, UCL).
  • Discriminating storm and tsunami deposits using sedimentology, geochemistry, micropalaeontology, ground penetrating radar and geostatistical analyses from south-east India (Chris Gouramanis; Adam Switzer, NTU; Seshachalam Srinivasalu, Anna University; Harry Jol, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire).
  • Coastal evolution and storm history of central Vietnam (Adam Switzer, NTU; Charlie Bristow, Birkbeck College, UCL; Chris Gouramanis; Barbara Mauz, University of Liverpool; Doan Dinh Lam, VAST).


Human-nature interactions (including ecology and environments)

  • Use of carbon sequestration to finance reforestation of poor farmers’ marginal farmland: A case study of China (Claudio Delang, Hong Kong Baptist University; Lu Xi Xi; with 2 collaborators from China and Germany)
  • Impacts of Landscape Patterns on Urban Ecology and Sustainability (Wang Yi-Chen).
  • Reconciling agricultural expansion and forest conservation in the new Myanmar (01/2016-01/2019) (Webb EL, LR Carrasco, M Rao, AD Ziegler)
  • Ecological Mangrove Restoration surveys at Pulau Ubin (Dan Friess; Germaine Leng, National Parks Board; with members of the RUM Initiative)
  • Australian ostracod ecology, biogeography and geochemistry (Chris Gouramanis; Stuart Halse, Bennelongia Pty. Ltd.; Patrick De Deckker, ANU).
  • Ecosystem functioning in one of the last pristine peat forest of SE Asia (Charles Harvey, MIT, USA; Alex Cobb, SMART-MIT, Singapore; Massimo Lupascu)
  • Peat susceptibility to fires in a non-land use setting in Brunei (Charles Harvey, MIT, USA; Alex Cobb, SMART-MIT, Singapore; Massimo Lupascu)
  • Mitigation of Climate Change through Fire Management in Regional Peatswamp Forests (Catherine Yule, School of Science Tropical Medicine and Biology; Massimo Lupascu)
  • Multidisciplinary Platform, Monash University (Chris Austin, School of Science TMBMP, MUM; Stephanie Evers, Liverpool John Moores University, UK; Thomas Smith, Kings College London; Helena Varkkey, University Malaya; Faizal Parish, Kuala Lumpur; Massimo Lupascu; Claudia Czimczik, University of California, Irvine, USA)
  • A Pan-Arctic Synthesis of Carbon Emissions During the Nongrowing Season (Susan Natali, Woods Hole Research Center; Helen Genet, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Massimo Lupascu; with the NGS Respiration PCN Working Group)


In addition, several researchers in the group also maintain webpages relating to their research programmes or do projects they are currently working on/are interested in developing further (in collaboration with other researchers, including graduate research students and research staff).  The following is a sample of these webpages:



Visiting Professors

Prof Tim Oke, University of British Columbia (Jan to Apr 2002)


Patricia Gober, Arizona State University (2 to 13 Oct 2015)

Prof Gan Thian Yew, University of Alberta, Canada (1 to 22 March 2014)

Prof Padraig Carmody, Trinity College Dublin (8 Sep to 28 Sep 2013)
James Goff, University of New South Wales  (2 Feb to 22 Feb 2013)

Dirk De Boer, University of Saskatchewan (10 Aug to 8 Sep 2012)
David Mark, State University of New York (3 to 15 February, 2012)

Anthony Brazel, Arizona State University (10 Jan to 2 Feb 2011)

Gary Brierley, University of Auckland (19 Nov to 8 Jan 2010)

Daniel Sui, Texas A&M University (25 Feb to 4 Mar 2008)
Per Christer Jansson, Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm (4 Apr to 8 May 2008)




Editorial Board

Lu, Xixi

  1. International Journal of Sediment Research, Associate Editor, (2010- present)
  1. Quaternary International
  2. Hydrological Processes
  3. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
  4. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Roth, Matthias

  1. International Journal of Climatology, Associate Editor
  1. Urban Climate
  2. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Taylor, David


  1. The Holocene
  2. The Anthropocene
  3. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Graduate Research

Members of TEC are keen to recruit graduate research students who have the potential to be outstanding researchers in their chosen field in the future. For further details, please contact the Chair of TEC (Professor Lu Xi Xi) or one of the academic staff listed below. Please also consult the Department of Geography’s Graduate Studies webpages for further information on studying at NUS and living in Singapore.

Download here information on possible PhD topics in the Tropical Environmental Change research group.