Why is a banana leaf a million times bigger than a common heather leaf? Why are leaves generally much larger in tropical jungles than in temperate forests and deserts? The textbooks say it’s a balance between water availability and overheating.
But it’s not that simple.
A global team of researchers, led by Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, revealed that in much of the world the key limiting factor for leaf size is night temperature and the risk of frost damage to leaves.
Mapping reefs with drones; robots destroying crown-of-thorns starfish; coral as a rain-maker; and more—researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are investigating new technologies to protect Australia’s reefs.
How can cities grow and thrive in an era of climate change? This is a challenge faced by both Australia and Indonesia. With ever-increasing population shifts towards urban environments, it is crucial to make cities sustainable.
Australian cities are adopting water sensitive approaches. Melbourne Water, for example, has created over 10,000 raingardens. But progress is slow, in part because of the existing massive traditional water infrastructure.
Twenty hectares of old, abandoned fish ponds have been rehabilitated into mangrove forests in Tiwoho, in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi.
Their efficiency in capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere is being put to the test by researchers, in the hopes the rehabilitation process can help mitigate the effects of climate change and restore the provision of ecosystem services, such as fisheries, provided by healthy mangroves.
We know the Southern Ocean plays a big role in our climate, but there’s much to learn about how and where clouds form over the sea, how they influence global temperatures, and how the wind affects cloud formation and how much carbon dioxide our oceans can absorb.
Now a 60m ‘wave pool in a wind tunnel’ built by Associate Professor Jason Monty is allowing researchers from The University of Melbourne, Swinburne, and Monash University to find out.
“We know that small eddies at the surface of the ocean affect how evaporation occurs and gasses are exchanged, but this turbulence is not included in climate models, as no one has been able to measure it,” Jason says.
“Trait-based ecology” enables Macquarie University’s Mark Westoby to explain patterns of species occurrence and abundance and to understand the impacts of climate change and changing patterns of land use. He received the $55,000 NSW Scientist of the Year.
Nanocapsules for drugs delivery: Frank Caruso is making miniature capsules that could better deliver drugs for cancer, AIDS and cardiovascular diseases. He won one of the 2014 Victoria Prizes for Science & Innovation worth $50,000.