Research Field: Coastal Geomorphology and Climate Change
Currently scientists think that as sea level rises and weather worsens reef islands will suffer from widespread erosion. Understanding how these islands will respond to rising sea level and/or increased storminess is a critical, but a poorly understood. Dr O’Leary’s work aims to identify the gaps in the scientific understanding of reef island formation and change and then to investigate these missing areas.
His studies include investigating the processes associated with deposition of biological material made on reefs (coral fragments, shells, etc) and their contribution to the development and stability of reef islands. As a climate change researcher, Michael has many unusual opportunities to share his work. He participated in the Big Issue Climate Forum presenting to a fairly polarized general public audience in terms of their views on climate change. He also participated in a Media Watch program helping to show how commentators are skewing research findings to suit their viewpoint on climate change.