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Wenchao Cao

PhD candidate (Geosciences)
Wenchao is currently researching environmental modelling, climate change and geodynamics. He is building computer models and animations to describe changes in the earth surface over space and time.

After completing a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Geology at China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, Wenchao began his PhD with the EarthByte research group at the University of Sydney in 2015.

Wenchao Cao on campus

My research

My interests extend from the Earth’s surface environmental modelling, climate change to geodynamics. I have built computer models that describe how the Earth’s surface environments have changed through deep time and how deep processes below the Earth’s crust and global sea level change have influenced surface topography. I also have mapped sediment distributions on the Earth’s surface through time and have studied how they have changed in response to plate motion, life evolution and green/icehouse conditions.

Understanding the Earth’s geological records is the key to understanding our future. Paleogeographic maps, documenting the changing surface environments on our planet over millions of years, are key components required for climate models over geological time. I have made my digital global paleogeographic maps available as an open resource.

This provides the scientific community with the opportunity to better simulate both past and also future climate change. My studies also will help us to better understand Earth’s tectonic evolution, past sea level change, ocean circulation, deep Earth resources and the role of mantle convection in shaping long-wavelength topography.

My experience

I was strongly interested in research in the fields of plate tectonics, paleobiology and climate change. The EarthByte research group at the University of Sydney is a world-leading Earth modelling group, aimed at understanding the planet’s plate tectonic, deep and surface processes by synthesising big and complex geodata through space and time.

I believed that this group would provide me with opportunities to learn cutting-edge technologies, promote my capabilities and develop my interests. In addition, this university is a world-renowned, historic and beautiful university. Studying at the university has been a very enjoyable and intellectually inspiring experience.