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→
Why can children learn any language – is it nature or nurture? Using the world’s first magnetoencephalography (MEG) system designed to study cognitive processing in children, Macquarie University Federation Fellow Professor Stephen Crain will investigate whether or not children have innate language ability.
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.
Aboriginal Elders from the Traditional Tribal Groups in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area are collaborating with researchers to produce the first integrated account of the history of human settlement, landscape evolution and past environmental change for Australia’s foremost ‘Ice Age’ archive.
Thirty new languages in China have recently been described by Assoc. Prof. David Bradley and Dr Jamin Pelkey of La Trobe University and reported by the journal Science.
Jamin described 18 new Phula languages based on work carried out from 2005 to 2006 in 41 mountain villages in Yunnan Province, Southwest China for his PhD. They are now recognised by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Indigenous people value rivers in many ways. Rivers provide bush foods and medicines, they are part of a culturally significant landscape, and have the potential to sustain future water-related businesses and employment.
So it’s important to know what impact changing river flow patterns and water allocations could have on Indigenous communities.
Zenobia Jacobs wants to know where we came from, and how we got here. When did our distant ancestors leave Africa and spread across the world? Why? And when was Australia first settled?
These are difficult and controversial questions. But Zenobia has a deep understanding of time and how to measure it. She has developed a way of accurately dating when individual grains of sand were buried with human artefacts. And that technique is transforming our understanding of human evolution.