Tag Archives: climate

Feeding the world, and asking where the wind went

Life on land depends on plants. And every plant balances opening its pores to let in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis; and closing its pores to retain water.

Graham Farquhar’s work has transformed our understanding of photosynthesis.

His models of plant biophysics have been used to understand cells, whole plants, whole forests, and to create new water-efficient wheat varieties.

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Mapping a future for Australian birds

Australia’s birds are bright and noisy compared with birds elsewhere, so perhaps it is no surprise they account for over 18 million of the more than 30 million observations in the Atlas of Living Australia; including records from before European settlement.

Now, funded by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), a team led by spatial ecologist Dr Jeremy VanDerWal of the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University (JCU) is developing a website, known as “Edgar”, to clean up existing records and augment them with reliable observations from enthusiastic and knowledgeable bird watchers.

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Australian farmers bring climate research to the paddock

Leading grain farmers are guiding climate researchers as part of Australia’s Climate Champion initiative.

Australian farmers bring climate research to the paddock
Farmer Simon Wallwork has worked with climate scientists on his farm. Credit: GRDC
They hope the results will help farmers to adapt to Australia’s increasingly challenging and variable climate.

Scientists supported by the Managing Climate Variability program asked the farmers about what they needed to know about climate in their areas—what forecasts and predictions would be most helpful and how they should be presented.
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Giving farmers more timely weather and climate forecasts

Seven days. Three months. We can now get accurate rainfall and temperature forecasts for these periods, but what if a farmer had access to quality outlooks that sat between the two—multi-week forecasts?

Giving farmers more timely weather and climate forecasts
Dr Andrew Watkins forecasts for farmers. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology

Multi-week forecasts would allow farmers to make better harvesting and sowing decisions before or after drought or flood events.

Australia’s Managing Climate Variability research and development program is working with the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO scientists to fill this gap.
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Slide back in time and see the Himalayas form

Researchers in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney have developed a computer package that lets scientists record and study the Earth over geological time.

GPlates moves geology into the fourth dimension
GPlates image showing topography (left) and predicted temperature 300 km below surface (right) as India moves towards the Eurasian continent 60mya. Credit: Sabin Zahirovic, EarthByte

Their GPlates software, which they describe as “Google Earth with a time-slider,” contains powerful tools for modelling geological processes. Yet it is simple enough to use in schools or at home, and is freely available. By combining data on continental motion, fossils and sediments, for example, scientists can analyse changes in geography, ocean currents and climate over geological time.
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Animals contribute to greenhouse gases

Smoke-belching coal-fired power stations and factories and fossil fuel-guzzling motor vehicles may be seen as the big villains of the global climate change debate, but they aren’t the only ones contributing to the greenhouse effect.

Australia’s hundreds of millions of cattle, sheep, pigs and other agricultural animals – not to mention our native fauna – also release significant amounts of methane and other gases into the atmosphere.

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Managing tropical fires for greenhouse gas abatement

Tiwi Ranger Leon Puruntatameri lighting experimental fires as part of the Tiwi Carbon Study. Credit: CSIRO Darwin
Tiwi Ranger Leon Puruntatameri lighting experimental fires as part of the Tiwi Carbon Study. Credit: CSIRO Darwin

The economic potential of carbon is the focus of a new fire project on the Tiwi Islands, 80 kilometres north of Darwin in the Northern Territory and home to 2,000 Aboriginal Australians. Nearly half of the Tiwi Islands are burnt every year, resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the extent of fire may provide substantial financial benefits under the emerging carbon economy.

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