Tipping points

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 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who have the required knowledge are often gagged (e.g. alpine grazing) and therefore funding can be threatened to be withdrawn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:

Australia's Climate Action Summit & the media

Vivien presents a collection of interviews from Australia's Climate Action Summit 21- 23 June 2013, focusing on the role of the media. Guests include:

John Kaye, NSW Greens MLC,

Jane Rawson, Author and Energy and Environment Editor for the online journal, The Conversation. The difference with The Conversation is that it's written by academics, not journalists; it is not-for-profit and receives no advertising revenu. 

Larissa Waters, Qld Senator and environmental lawyer.

Prof Ian Simmonds on melting permafrost and the latest climate science

Professor Ian Simmonds of the School of Earth Sciences at The University of Melbourne is an expert in climate science and  atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane budgets. His recent research has focused on the dramatic record melting permafrost in the Arctic and extreme weather events relating to climate change.   

Loss of sea ice contributes to ground level warming while global warming intensifies atmospheric circulation and contributes to increased temperatures higher in the Arctic atmosphere. 

In the past 30 years of satellite data, the amount of sea ice in the Arctic had dropped by 3 million km2. To put this in context, this is almost half the area of Australia which has an area of 7.5 million km2. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) predictions on the loss of sea ice extent have been accurate and even on the conservative side.  

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