Climate: Study links deadly 2010-2011 Australia floods with long-term ocean warming


A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows swollen rivers in northwestern Australia during record-setting floods in 2010-2011. Visit this NASA page for more info.

‘Take action to forestall global warming …’

Staff Report

Deadly floods that swept across Australia in 2010 and 2011 were at least partly fueled by long-term warming in the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to a new study that highlights some of threats posed by human-caused climate change.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that ocean warming can have profound effects on atmospheric circulation, delivering huge amounts of moisture to land areas under certain conditions. Continue reading

Study sees huge climate threat to tropical cloud forests

No place to go …


Tropical mountain forests in Australia could be nearly wiped out by global warming before the end of the century. Photo via the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Australia.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists have long warned that mountain ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change, because as temperatures warm, species adapted to living atop mountains just won’t have anywhere to go.

A new study by Australian scientists appears to confirm those fears, concluding that the cloud forests in tropical forests are the most at risk. Many tropical, mountaintop plants won’t survive global warming, even under the best-case climate scenario. Continue reading

Report: Australia’s humpback whales are thriving

A humpback whale near Hawaii. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A humpback whale near Hawaii. Photo courtesy NOAA.

FRISCO — While many Australian animal species are being pushed toward extinction, humpback whales off both the country’s east and west coasts are making a strong comeback from the whaling era.

Recent research suggests humpback populations are growing at about 10 percent annually, and that populations have recovered to between 60 and 90 percent of pre-whaling numbers, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Policy. Continue reading

Study: Cultural shift and centralized planning helped Melbourne adapt to Australia’s Millennium Drought


Australia’s blistering Millennium Drought spurred wholesale changes in water use.

Regional water czar directed coordinated drought response

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Drought-prone cities and regions around the world can look to Melbourne, Australia to get an idea of what it takes to tackle water shortages during extended dry spells — and to prepare for future droughts, which are projected to become more frequent in some regions as global warming intensifies.

As the worst drought in Australia’s history took hold during the late 1990s, the city’s 4.3 million residents were able to cut their daily water use by half, to just 41 gallons per per person, according to a new study. Continue reading

Environment: How to save the Great Barrier Reef


A section of the Great Barrier Reef photographed from the International Space Station.

Australian scientists offer common-sense plan to restore coral reef ecosystem

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a 40-year span when the Great Barrier Reef lost half its coral cover, and with global warming looming for the future, Australian scientists say fundamental changes are needed to protect the reef.

Better policies focusing on science, protection and conservation are the key, a team of leading researchers wrote this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, arguing that all the stressors on the Reef need to be reduced for it to recover. Continue reading

Australian scientists find largest-ever meteor impact zone


Earth hs often been marked by meteor impacts, and a new impact zone in Australia may the largest ever. Photo via USGS.

Geothermal exploration leads to unexpected discovery

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists exploring deep underground for geothermal resources in Australia got more than they bargained for when they found signs of an ancient 400-kilometer-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth.

The crater from the impact millions of years ago has long disappeared. But a team of geophysicists has found the twin scars of the impacts — the largest impact zone ever found on Earth — hidden deep in the earth’s crust. Continue reading

Climate: New ice core data help show long-term rainfall record for parts of Australia


A recent weather satellite image of Australia, via NASA.

‘The Millennium Drought was far from an exceptional event for eastern Australia during the past thousand years …’

FRISCO — Even without the added factor of global warming, eastern Australia is susceptible to climate extremes, including long-lasting droughts that could put a huge strain on water storage and delivery systems.

Researchers say a 1,000-year ice core record from Antarctica shows the recent “Millennium Drought” actually wasn’t all that unusual in the context of Australia’s long-term climate history. Continue reading


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