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.”
Leading grain farmers are guiding climate researchers as part of Australia’s Climate Champion initiative.
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.
Continue reading Australian farmers bring climate research to the paddock
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?
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.
Continue reading Giving farmers more timely weather and climate forecasts
Each year we identify early-career scientists with a discovery and bring them to Melbourne for a communication boot camp. Here are some of their stories.
More at www.freshscience.org.au
Imagine printing your own room lighting, lasers, or solar cells from inks you buy at the local newsagent. Jacek Jasieniak and colleagues at CSIRO, the University of Melbourne and the University of Padua in Italy, have developed liquid inks based on quantum dots that can be used to print such devices and in the first demonstration of their technology have produced tiny lasers. Quantum dots are made of semiconductor material grown as nanometre-sized crystals, around a millionth of a millimetre in diameter. The laser colour they produce can be selectively tuned by varying their size.
High tech cling wraps that ‘sieve out’ carbon dioxide from waste gases can help save the world, says Melbourne University chemical engineer, Colin Scholes who developed the technology. The membranes can be fitted to existing chimneys where they capture CO2 for removal and storage. Not only are the new membranes efficient, they are also relatively cheap to produce. They are already being tested on brown coal power stations in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, Colin says. “We are hoping these membranes will cut emissions from power stations by up to 90 per cent.”
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.