Climate science

Acacia Pepler

Acacia Pepler is a PhD student at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Climate Change Research Centre, where she studies extreme rainfall and East Coast Lows (ECLs), wild storms and their relation to climate change impacts.

Acacia Pepler initially began her career with an interest in Astronomy but her love of Science and Meteorology took over and after completing a Bachelor of Science BSc, she went on to become a PhD student, as she had always been interested also in the weather. So her current research work centres on the East Coast Lows perhaps as they are difficult to predict and can develop quickly.

As we all at times complain about weather forecast (but expect them to be accurate for a week ahead), our desire for an accurate prediction is of personal and probably superficial  nature or even can be a case of saving lives such as  with the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.  

Climate change can affect East Coast Lows in many ways, for example warmer days can make a cyclone more intense, more rising sea levels which are predicted to be about 1 - 1.5 metres (but NASA has predicted as high as 3 metres by 2050), influences by the Great Dividing Range which can intensify lows up and down the Eastern seaboard can also have an effect.  Answers to these questions are being modelled not only by the Bureau of Meteorology but the Universities of Macquarie and Newcastle, whose special study relates to history and dam levels in NSW the latter of which can be related to the important topic of water security.

Whatever the development of ocean warming intense rainfall is expected to  increase with each degree of global warming particularly when interacting with  cold air in the upper atmosphere. 

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre 26/8/16)

Dr Sara Bice

Dr Sara Bice, Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, talks about her new book "Responsible Mining".

"Responsible Mining " - Is it an oxymoron or is it possible?

Dr Bonnie Monteleone

Dr Bonnie Monteleone is Co-founder, Executive Director and Director of Science, Research and Academic Partnerships for Plastic Ocean Project, Inc. whose mission is to educate through field research, implement progressive outreach initiatives, and incubate solutions to address the global plastic pollution problem. 

Dr Bonnie Monteleone is a field scientist, researcher and student supervisor in the Chemistry department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Dr Bonnie is also a 5 Gyres Institute ambassador; part of the Ocean Defenders Alliance; Cape Fear Rise Above Plastic through Surfrider; the UNCW Marine Mammal Stranding Program; Algalita Marine Research Foundation; NC Monofilament Recovery and Recycling receptacles at Johnny Mercer Peer; contributes to the Plastic Ocean Project blog and more! She has collected plastic marine samples globally including 4 of the 5 gyres, the Caribbean, and has extended this work to Pyramid Lake, in a Nevada desert outside of Reno.

The passionate Dr Monteleone joins the Beyond Zero team to talk about plastic leachates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) uptakes, plastic ingestion by marine organisms and the many solutions and projects she is running. She is also an accomplished artist, turning some of the plastic she collects on her  voyages into modern artistic masterpieces.

Dr Stephen Bygrave

AN OVERVIEW OF THE WORK OF BZE OVER THE YEARS
To speak about such a topic, the guest was BZE CEO Dr Stephen Bygrave who is about to embark on a new challenge to join the Queensland government as executive director in the field of environment and climate change.

The work of BZE has encompassed such diverse areas as 100% renewable energy and how soon this may be viable, buildings, battery storage, agriculture including land clearing, industrial processes (such as alternatives in the production of aluminium), and transport to name just a few. In fact BZE has attained worldwide acclaim.

Transport in particular is responsible for 15% of national emissions but the ridiculous dependence on cars in Australia is badly in need of a "mode shift" in favour of public transport and electric cars not forgetting the movement of freight. It is so short-sighted by governments to move freight on the road in lieu of rail which had been achieved in the past. BZE has also written on the topic of high speed rail which has been utilised so successfully in other countries, in particular India and China where there are so many people to accommodate!

So Stephen will perhaps be involved in the different challenges that Queensland can throw up  - none bigger than the Great Barrier Reef and Adani and land clearing!

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre 12/8/16)

Prof Tara P. Dhakal

Beyond Zero speaks to Professor Tara P. Dhakal of Binghamton University, State University of New York, about his research developing high efficiency solar cells. 

Advances in the manufacture of Solar Cells

Prof Tara Dhakal started off with study of Physics and Material Science, working in Kathmandu, Nepal and Japan and later joined the Uni. of Sth. Florida with the aim of making improved thin film solar. He is at present Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the State University of N.Y. and it seems he has always been interested in applied research.

Problems of course with solar is the need to access materials that are abundant, non toxic, reliable and not only cost efficient to manufacture but to install. Approximately 25% of silicon can be converted into electricity and it is fairly expensive to process into wafers.  The Professor discussed the possibility of transparent layers for windows and/or roll-out for roofs.

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre 29/7/16)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Getting more energy from the sun: how to make better solar cells

Dr Ashish Sharma

Dr Ashish Sharma of the University of Notre Dame (US) has completed a report on whether green roofs, which are covered with plants, and cool roofs, which are surfaced with reflective materials, could reduce Urban Heat Islands (UHI) effects in Chicago.

Dr. Ashish Sharma, doing post-doctural research in Environmental Change Initiative at University of Notre Dame whose research interests include Atmospheric Sciences and land-ocean atmosphere.  He achieved his PhD in Climate Science 2012.

Dr. Sharma spoke of "green" and "cool" roofs - the former having more benefits but of course needing water and a strong roof structure and useful in cities and populated areas probably producing vegetation. Could sustain urban bees and/or provide shade, and can have a pollutant-cleansing effect.

Whereas "cool" roof is basically a reflective roof, for example "Thermoshield" which can be painted on and has both reflective and insulating properties, and can reflect Infra Red.  Today's podcast follows on from last week's Beyond Zero Radio interview with Thermoshield, an Australian cool roof paint product which is headquartered in Dandenong, Victoria.

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Green and cool roofs provide relief for hot cities, but should be sited carefully

ND Report: Cooling down Chicago: How green and cool roofs could impact urban climate

Prof Andrew Blakers

From Stars to the Sun

Professor Andrew Blakers is a professor engineering at the Australian National University. He works in the area of photovoltaics. His original goal was to be an astronomer studying Maths and Physics but while bushwalking  he was struck by so many places under threat - and that was as far back as the 70s!

He believes Australia receives thousands of times more solar energy than all the fossil fuels combined so why not be involved in solar and wind? He is a member of ARENA but fears the organisation, with the present political situation may lose the capacity to award grants. 

An interesting account of Andrew's life and work can be accessed on the ABC's Conversation Hour (13/6) and more details on the usual BZE podcast which mentions sliver, PERC technologies and silicon with its non-toxic properties. 

He has no doubt that Australia could become 100% renewable before long - and that is not just "pie in the sky"!

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Wind and solar PV have won the race – it’s too late for other clean energy technologies

More articels at The Conversation

Hannah Aulby

Transition from Coal

Hannah Aulby grew up in Tasmania and she said she had an "environmentally aware youth" and her family were interested in environment matters .Since then she has travelled extensively globally, worked with Nick McKim, been Fundraising manager for BZE, Lock the Gate to mention a few. She is now Clean Energy Campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

She mentioned the problem of mine rehabilitation where there is a big need for money to be available for mines at the end of their use. For example Hazelwood (Australia's dirtiest coal fired power station) whose owners are "considering" closure with insufficient funds to so. But there are many who merely desert mines and just leave without legal redress. So it seems then the taxpayer would have to foot the bill. There is also a need too for the communities to plan and have some alternative transition to alternative employment. There is of course too much coal in the system at present.

Hannah concluded by reminding listeners of the Forum - Coral, Coal and Climate Change forum on 16th June at Box Hill Town Hall with Lighter Footprints and  ECAM ( Eastern Climate Action Melb.) as joint hosts. Local candidates and politicians to attend with Rod Quantock as M.C. One can only wonder how/if he can make an endangered Great Barrier Reef light hearted!

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Dr Aaswath Raman

Dr Aaswath Raman of Standford University is cofounder of a startup called SkyCool Systems. They are one of several groups commercializing an energy-efficient cooling approach that takes advantage of the coldness of space, based on relatively recent advances in the ability to manipulate light at the nanoscale.

In 2014, Aaswath's group published a paper in Nature in which they showed that a device designed to combine the optical properties of three different materials, arranged in stack of multiple layers, cooled to nearly 5 °C below the ambient air temperature. This proved that “the cold darkness of the Universe” can be used as a renewable resource, “even during the hottest hours of the day,” wrote the researchers.

The Sky may hold the secret to Efficient Air-conditioning

Nature: Passive radiative cooling below ambient air temperature under direct sunlight

Dr Euan Ritchie concerning biodiversity

Dr Euan Ritchie joined the BZE radio team, speaking about the need to recognise we have a biodiversity crisis in Australia. Over the years we have lost 30 of our mammal species.We invest very little in our natural environment and there are many reasons for this:

-The government (and people) do not realise the economic value of nature e.g, every dollar spent on management can equal $75 that can be recouped on tourism.

-Those in government departments, who have the required knowledge are often gagged (e.g. alpine grazing) and therefore funding can be threatened to be withdrawn

-Short election cycles and vested interests and governments which are not practised at long term decisions

-Population moves from country to city so then people do not have a daily experience of nature

What to do: If we have open spaces this can help to reduce stress (and sometimes then reduce crime) and improve health. Perhaps excessive population growth plays a part as we live on a finite planet but it is more important to recognise and be aware of reducing our per capita consumption and not to live beyond our means. The Greens are pivotal but there is a need for cooperation between parties so there is a national focus rather than merely political.

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

Syndicate content