Assessing ageing bridges just got safer and easier, thanks to a high-tech radar device that fits inside a suitcase.
Developed by Dr Lihai Zhang of The University of Melbourne as part of a collaborative research project supported by The Australia-Indonesia Centre, the IBIS-S radar technology can scan a bridge in 15 minutes from a kilometre away with an accuracy of 0.01mm, quickly assessing its condition and stability.
Ninety-nine per cent of all tsunami-related deaths have occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Indonesian and Australian scientists have been working to reduce this figure—by creating artificial earthquakes and tsunamis.
Building off more than 15 years of research from Indonesian, Singaporean, American, and Australian scientists, the team created a collection of scenarios, for earthquakes of different magnitudes and the resulting tsunamis that would affect West Sumatra, Indonesia.
Flash flooding, brought on by sudden torrential rain, killed dozens of people in Australia in 2011. Because of their very nature, it has been difficult to provide effective warnings. And that is a significant gap in Australia’s natural disaster management, according to the submission of RMIT University’s Centre for Risk and Community Safety to the 2011 Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry.
We now have the technology to deliver such warnings, says director of the Centre, Prof John Handmer. “But using it would raise issues about how quickly both the authorities and people at risk are prepared to make critical decisions when they receive the information.”
Fire fighters should identify what are potentially the worst-case events and prepare for them, even if they are extremely unlikely to occur, says Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre psychology researcher Claire Johnson.
“A failure to consider worst-case scenario possibilities has been implicated in a number of high-profile investigations into Australian bushfire disasters,” says Claire, who submitted her PhD thesis on worst-case scenario planning to La Trobe University in Melbourne in March this year.
For instance, the inquiries following the Canberra bushfires in 2003 and the Wangary fires on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula in 2006 both suggested lack of considering the worst contributed to an underestimation of the threat posed. Continue reading Preparing for the worst→
The extreme weather conditions that can turn an already dangerous bushfire into an explosive firestorm can now be better predicted, thanks to the work of a 30-year veteran of the Bureau of Meteorology.
In Australia we call them bushfires. In other parts of the world they are called forest fires, and global climate change and increasing human populations mean they are increasing in frequency and ferocity.
The devastating bushfires in Victoria, Australia on 7 February 2009 resulted in the loss of 173 lives and caused major property and asset damage. The fires are considered to be Australia’s worst peacetime disaster.