Compound interest

What happens when disaster builds on disaster

Climate change will bring hotter weather and rising seas, but what it means for natural disasters such as floods and fires is less clear.

Part of the difficulty is that such catastrophes are often “compound events” in which multiple factors combine to wreak havoc.

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3D printing carbon fibre at industrial scale

Swinburne University researchers have developed a way to bring 3D printing with carbon fibre composites to an industrial scale.

Strong, lightweight carbon fibre composites can be used to make everything from aeroplanes and high-end race cars to sports equipment, and they are in high demand.

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Sharing knowledge, fighting fires

Southern Australia and Mediterranean Europe’s common problem: bushfires

Bushfires are becoming more intense and increasing their range—so European and Australian researchers have initiated a five-year joint project to combat the threat.

“New regions are becoming affected by recurrent fires,” says Associate Professor Marc Demange from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

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How much carbon can we dig in?

Healthy soil for a healthy planet

To rein in global warming, scientists believe it will not be enough to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions: we will also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Soils are an important reservoir for carbon, as they contain nearly double that found in the atmosphere and vegetation combined. Agricultural practices have degraded soil carbon stocks, so there is a large potential for atmospheric carbon to be sequestered in soils.

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Spying on the denizens of the Southern Ocean

Sonar and satellites reveal the fish and other creatures that live far below the surface.

The depths of the ocean still hold great mysteries. At depths between 200 and 1,000 metres live creatures that, taken altogether, weigh as much as 10 billion tonnes.

Rudy Kloser, an expert on echo sounding and deep-sea ecosystems at CSIRO in Hobart, says these creatures are vital but poorly understood. Continue reading Spying on the denizens of the Southern Ocean

Big data for life

Australian and European researchers are finding the secrets of cancer and the immune system hiding in the numbers.

From his lab at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Irish-born researcher David Lynn is combining computational and big data analysis with experimental approaches to unpicking biological networks at the molecular level. Continue reading Big data for life

Making wine in a warming world

South Australian winemakers are looking to Europe as the climate—and what drinkers want—is changing.

Grapes don’t ripen the way they used to. As temperatures climb, they are getting sweeter faster.

Winemakers find that by the time the crop achieves the right colour or level of tannins, the grapes contain more sugar. More sugar means heavier, more alcoholic wine. At the same time, drinkers are preferring lighter wines Continue reading Making wine in a warming world

Australian mirrors helping to power Cyprus

Australian-made mirrors are helping the Mediterranean country of Cyprus move to renewable energy and secure its supply of drinking water.

Though Cyprus is blessed with plentiful sunshine, rainfall is low and the country depends on energy-intensive desalination plants for its drinking water. Continue reading Australian mirrors helping to power Cyprus

Hypersonic travel

Brussels to Sydney in less than three hours

A passenger jet could one day fly halfway around the world in just a few hours. That’s the goal of the HEXAFLY project (High-speed Experimental FLY): going beyond the supersonic realm pioneered by the now-defunct Concorde to reach hypersonic speeds more than five times as fast as sound.

Led by the European Space Agency, the project has now brought on international collaborators to prepare for an early stage test flight planned for 2020.

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