UCL Department of Geography


Freshwater research in Guangzhou

8 February 2019

Roger Flower invited to new university

Freshwater research in Guangzhou

Professor Roger Flower visited China’s Guangzhou University in late 2018 at the invitation of Professor Xuhui Dong, in the School of Geographic Sciences, who gained his PhD in UCL Geography in 2010.

Although less than 20 years old, the university, based in the rapidly developing southern sector of the mega-city of Guangzhou (population over 13 million), now has almost 30,000 students.

Roger’s visit included informal discussions about developing freshwater research in the region. He presented two lectures on the implications of environmental change for freshwater management and attended a one-day workshop. This discussed work on lake modelling, palaeolimnological accounts of climate change in relation to pollution in Chinese lakes, and several estuarine studies.

A visit was also paid to Wu Cong, a diatom specialist at the Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey, with whom Roger has co-authored two papers on the diatom genus Amphorotia. These describe several new species of this biogeographically restricted genus discovered in sediment drill core samples from the Pearl River estuarine delta system.

Roger’s overall impression was of a new Geography Department well placed to expand environmental change and freshwater research in the region.

The visit was also rewarding in several other ways. The city area of southern Guangzhou is surprisingly well-planned, with wide new roads, efficient bus routes and a highly computerized underground transport system. Being sub-tropical, air pollution appeared to be relatively low, with conspicuous urban vegetation, including well-maintained inner city parks filled with colourful bougainvillaea and palms.  Nevertheless, artificial urban lakes, although well presented, were suffering from water quality problems.