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APEC-Australia Women in Research
Fellowship 2022
Dr. Olivia Cabrera

Economy: Philippines

Host Institution: University of Western Australia

Project Title: Wave and Tidally Driven Flow Dynamics in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Philippines

Project Outline:

This study thus proposes to develop an atoll-scale numerical model for the TRNP.  A DELFT3D flexible mesh combined wave-flow model will be developed to simulate the hydrodynamics within TRNP. Idealized experiments will isolate the role of waves and tides in the atoll flow and investigate how the two processes interact to control flushing within the atolls and the movement of sediments around the islets. 

Reasons for applying for fellowship:

The Philippine archipelago, together with the multiple arrays of seas and straits within the Maritime Continent, is notoriously difficult to observe and model. The intricate island configuration and the complex bathymetry of the archipelago, as well as the numerous physical processes that vary in multiple spatial and temporal scales, lead to complex flows and patterns that are difficult to resolve. Thus, numerical models must have grid resolution small enough for atolls but with the basin-wide extent to account for non-local or remote forcing. The advent of flexible mesh grids is a recent development in ocean models for cutting-edge research in oceanography. Coupled with atmospheric models, these ocean models can have various applications for disaster resiliency, environmental sustainability and socio-economic development of the Philippines. Such models are not yet fully exploited in our country. The fellowship will provide training in the application of numerical models to predict ocean waves and circulation within coral reef systems, as well as provide knowledge and technical expertise in field observational methods that will support my future work back in the Philippines. As part of the highly diverse Coral Triangle, the Philippines have made progress in the policy and legal framework of marine protected areas (MPA). The project study site, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), is one of the earliest and model MPAs but still shows a long-term decline in coral cover and erosion of its bird islet. Understanding the dynamics of flow and sediment transport will help further our understanding of reef water quality, temperature variability, and material transport between and around the atolls of TRNP.

Past Achievements:

  • Most outstanding PhD graduate in 2012

  • National Academy of Science and Technology the 2021

  • Outstanding Book Award Special Citation for our “2017 Philippine Climate Change Assessment: Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation”

Email address:

LinkedIn URL:  

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