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  • richardmitnick 4:11 pm on December 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientist travels to the end of the world to change the world", , Clothilde Langlais, CSIROscope, , Our oceans are a support system for us all. They influence our climate and provide food for billions of people and are a meaningful part of Aussie culture.,   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM-“Scientist travels to the end of the world, to change the world” Clothilde Langlais 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    2 December 2019
    Natalie Kikken

    1
    Flying the CSIRO flag: Clothilde Langlais is proud to be part of the Homeward Bound cohort for 2019.

    Our oceans are a support system for us all. They influence our climate, provide food for billions of people, and are a meaningful part of Aussie culture.

    But we don’t have to tell that to Clothilde Langlais, one of our leading physical oceanographers. Her passion is how our oceans connect with our climate system, and she’s been delivering some impressive science in this space for the last 15 years.

    Clothilde is currently in one of the most remote parts of the world – Antarctica – to champion women in STEM and build on her climate change knowledge.

    Connecting climate, oceans and people

    Clothilde would be a great asset on any trivia team for questions related to our oceans.

    “Did you know our oceans absorb more than 90 per cent of the excess heat trapped on Earth caused by human-made greenhouse gases? And that our oceans absorb almost 40 per cent of the human-made carbon from the atmosphere? This can impact ocean circulation and our climate,” Clothilde explained.

    She looked at how carbon and heat are soaked up from the atmosphere and stored deep in the Southern Ocean. Now she’s researching the impacts of that on one of Australia’s most valued marine assets – the Great Barrier Reef. She’s also exploring ways to reduce the effects and help the reef adapt to a changing climate.

    “As an oceanographer, I am focused on the pressing challenges facing our coasts. These include warming, sea-level rise, change in circulation, the shifting of habitats, coral bleaching, and ocean acidification. I’ve also researched how climate projections could create change in our marine environment including eddies (circular currents), the Southern Ocean and El Nino.”

    Clothilde really is a walking encyclopedia on ocean science.

    Women in STEM cheerleader

    Building on her scientific career, Clothilde wants to bring her science and knowledge to the wider community. And she is, by taking part in the Homeward Bound leadership program for women in STEM.

    Clothilde will be joining close to 100 women for a voyage to Antarctica (including six of our own scientists). They’ll develop professional and personal skills and build an international network with female leaders in science.

    “Through my science, I want to make a difference. I want to change the world,” she tells us.

    “I am proud to participate in the growing knowledge around climate change. And I want to bring this knowledge far and wide. I want to bring my science to life through visualisation and storytelling, while increasing the presence of women in STEM. Homeward Bound will help me do that, by helping me raising my voice and vision for a brighter future.”

    Behold Mother Nature

    Through Clothilde’s career, she has seen differences in the progress of male and female scientists.

    “There has been variation in the level of opportunities, support and trust in ideas. And being caring was not considered a popular leadership attribute. But things are changing. I am gaining confidence, connecting with other female leaders and creating a strategic path for my science.”

    Clothilde is pleased to be meeting Mother Nature in its wildest and most majestic form. But she recognises that Antarctica is also vulnerable.

    “Science gives us an understanding of why things are the way they are and how our planet works. It also helps us to plan for the future.”

    “I’m excited that my science and participation in Homeward Bound will influence female scientists all around the world to help shape decisions for our planet.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:49 am on November 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What our people pack when visiting Antarctica", Amelia Tandy, CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM “What our people pack when visiting Antarctica” Amelia Tandy 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    28 November 2019
    Natalie Kikken

    1
    It’s a nice view right? Amelia will be seeing something like this every day as part of her Homeward Bound journey.

    Amelia Tandy, Research Assistant with our Climate Science Centre, has lived overseas before. But she’s never been to Antarctica.

    We chatted with Amelia about what she’s packing for the three-week Homeward Bound voyage, a women in science leadership program. We asked her about balancing work and parenting life, and why more diversity in STEM is important.

    2
    Amelia Tandy, a researcher here at CSIRO.

    Knee-high boots for Antarctica

    Amelia works at our Climate Science Centre. She studied marine biology, but her focus is the interface between science and policy.

    “I work closely with government departments to take our science – whether is it climate modelling, oceanography, ecology and marine species research – to help inform decision-making,” she said.

    Amelia will be joining hundreds of other women in STEM on the Homeward Bound voyage from around the globe. And yes, they will all be wearing knee-high boots on the boat.

    “I’ll have special gumboots that can only be worn on the boat and when visiting the shore. They are knee-high so when we venture into shallow waters, our feet won’t freeze off!” she said.

    Why knee-high gumboots? Antarctica has very strict quarantine rules. The boots on the boat, stay on the boat. They need to have never touched land outside the Antarctic.

    With such a remote and precious ecosystem, it is critical that foreign materials and organisms don’t make their way to Antarctica to disrupt the fauna already living there.

    Ice cold Antarctic climate

    For this time of year, Amelia is expecting Antarctica’s weather to be in the minus temperatures. But, as she lives in Canberra, she isn’t too afraid of chilly climes.

    “With so much ice around, we need lots of waterproof gear. We’ll have goose down jackets that go down to our ankles, waterproof trousers, gloves and beanies,” she explained.

    “We’ll also be visiting international research stations – including Argentina, China and the US – to find out more about the research happening in this far-flung area of the world. This includes gender diversity at these stations and the challenges working in such a formidable environment.”

    Diverse STEM diversity

    Homeward Bound is a year-long program to increase the visibility of female STEM leaders through skills development, strategic capability and collaboration.

    “When I joined the program, my focus was on promoting climate change research. Antarctica is the perfect backdrop to demonstrate the impacts of climate change,” Amelia said.

    “However, as my participation in the program continues, the importance of diversity in the science arena has really come to the forefront.

    “It’s not just about women in STEM that needs more visibility. Diversity also includes cultural backgrounds, sexuality, and different ways of thinking.”

    Leader, mother, human

    Amelia is a mum to two young girls, aged six and four. Being away from them for four weeks with limited communication will be tough.

    “I won’t be able to just pick up the phone and call so I’ll be packing photos and some drawings. I’ve also asked my family and friends to share letters with me,” she said.

    “When I miss them, I will open a letter and feel more connected.”

    Amelia recognises the challenges that come with managing work and being a parent, but she appreciates CSIRO’s flexible work conditions so she can better balance the two.

    “I’m heartened to see societal shifts in flexible opportunities in the workplace for both men and women. There have also been positive steps to increase the visibility and appointments of women in leadership roles,” she said.

    “CSIRO supports the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) program, which has seen a six per cent increase in women in leadership roles in the last couple of years. This is definitely a step in the right direction.”

    Amelia is excited to bring more visibility to her work on her return from Homeward Bound. She’s also very excited about seeing penguins on her trip.

    “But most importantly, I’m looking forward to connecting with an international network of women. Everyone wins when we have diverse teams.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:02 am on November 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Lab to reef: coral eggs provide new life for reef restoration", , CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope: “Lab to reef: coral eggs provide new life for reef restoration” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    27 November 2019
    Christopher Doropoulos
    Pascal Craw
    Lauren Hardiman
    Natalie Kikken

    Armed with a camera, a lab and lots of patience, our researchers are on a scientific mission. They’re on Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef to witness and learn from the annual coral spawning event.

    But it’s a little different to what happens out in the wild.

    Ripe coral colonies ready to spawn – which is when they release egg and sperm bundles – are being collected from the reef and brought into the laboratory at the Heron Island Research Station. It’s here that our scientists are eagerly waiting for the corals to release their eggs.

    1
    Coral spawning usually only happens once a year after a full moon. Image: Christopher Doropoulos

    Don’t stop us now: tracking coral eggs

    Coral spawning typically only occurs once a year in the days following the November full moon. (Although remember this? In some instances, it can happen twice a year!)

    We will be capturing millions of fertile eggs – each one the size of a pinhead – to aid their success in becoming new coral. This will help us develop techniques that will help restore parts of the reef. At a scale that could make a massive difference.

    This builds on our coral spawning research out in the wild. Where last year we conducted a major field campaign to collect and culture wild coral spawn slicks. The operation was epic and a great success.

    In collaboration with Van Oord – an international dredging and marine contractor – we built a 50,000-litre aquaculture system on a tug boat. This was to culture millions of coral larvae to help with reef restoration.

    But don’t stop us now! We are building on our past success by taking the research into the lab. We will be developing ways to track coral larvae so we know where they go once they leave the aquaculture facilities.

    Under pressure: how much pressure can coral larvae can handle?

    We know how to collect, culture, and release wild coral larvae (known as spawn slicks). But we need to know how much stress coral larvae can handle. This way, we’ll know how to set future trial conditions for handling coral larvae for maximum positive impact.

    We’re testing how turbulent conditions and water flow impact the larvae – from unfertilised eggs to fully competent swimming larvae ready to metamorphose onto the reef. Understanding these forces is essential so that we can use models to identify the ideal pressures for pumping larvae as we upscale this research.

    4
    We used a 50,000 litre aquaculture set-up to harvest coral slicks to help restore the Great Barrier Reef.

    Aussie scientists supporting global reefs

    There is a threat from human-driven disturbances to coral reefs throughout the world. This includes those found on the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on the east coast and Ningaloo Reef on the west coast. Coral restoration is being conducted by leading organisations across Australia and all over the world, to kick-start coral recovery.

    We are combining expertise in biology, ecology and marine engineering to scale up our efforts. This means restoration techniques will be more effective for larger areas and can be applied to reefs around the world. Not only will the corals be happier and more resilient. It aims to aid rehabilitation of marine life, food webs and healthy functioning of coral reefs too.

    5
    We are at Heron Island to witness the coral spawning event and to collect coral eggs to help aid Reef recovery. Credit: Lauren Hardiman

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:33 pm on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CSIROscope, , , Undersea volcanic activity has been critical in the evolution of the Coral Sea region.   

    From CSIROscope: “Keeping it plutonic with underwater hot rocks” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    4 November 2019
    Francis Chui
    Edward Clennett
    Karin Orth
    Matt Marrison

    1
    Titans of science! Geologists on board RV Investigator examine rock samples from the underworld.

    CSIRO RV Investigator. CSIRO Australia

    Roman mythology is full of both epic love stories and epic battles. Take Pluto, the god of the underworld. His chief duty was to meet the newly dead after they rowed across the River Styx. He then bound these souls in chains and escorted them to judgement.

    For times of trouble, Pluto had been gifted a helmet of invisibility and would ride into battle on an ebony chariot drawn by four black horses.

    But the underworld wasn’t all bad. The Romans recognised that many good things came from under the earth – such as gold, silver, and their crops. So Pluto and his domain were not considered to be all that terrible.

    Jump forward a few thousand years (stick with us on this one) and we find new gods of the underworld at the centre of our story – marine geologists. Instead of a helmet of invisibility and a chariot, our marine geologists have a rock dredge and a high-horsepower research vessel.

    It’s an epic story of a different kind. One in which our rockstars uncover underwater rocks.

    So, let’s look at what was dredged up on RV Investigator’s recent voyage to the Coral Sea.

    Studying the underwater underworld

    In some locations on Earth, the underworld is much closer to the surface than others. In these places, hot molten rock rises as plumes from deep within the Earth’s mantle to create hotspots. These hotspots often create volcanic chains on the surface as tectonic plates move over them. Where this happens underwater, chains of seamounts – undersea volcanic mountains – can form across the seafloor.

    Undersea volcanic activity has been critical in the evolution of the Coral Sea region. So, scientists on our RV Investigator set sail to study it in August 2019.

    Scientists tested competing hypotheses for how hotspots had influenced the evolution of the Australian plate.

    Associate Professor Jo Whittaker from the University of Tasmania led this team. They set about uncovering the story of the epic battles between tectonic plates as they jostled and fought like Titans on our planet’s surface.

    2
    Voyage Chief Scientist, Assoc Prof Jo Whittaker, UTas and Prof Simon Williams with their helmets of health and safety.

    A sudden feeling of dredge

    Our story takes place at the site of Dredge 37. This location is a gateway to our underwater underworld, being the junction between the deep Pocklington Trough and the wide Louisiade Plateau near Papua New Guinea.

    The Pocklington Trough is a trench 850 kilometers long and around 5200 meters deep. It marks a meeting of worlds between the northern margin of the Coral Sea and the southern margin of the Woodlark Basin and Papuan Peninsula. There is no evidence of the plate currently being dragged into the underworld (known as subduction). It’s actually thought to be a relict trench from where the Australian plate drove beneath Papua New Guinea.

    3
    Map to the underwater underworld studied during the voyage.

    Our geologist’s chariot, RV Investigator, has advanced instruments for mapping and measuring the seafloor’s depth. These instruments work by emitting sound pulses through the water and recording the echoes from that signal. It allows scientists to calculate the water’s depth and interpret the seafloor’s structure.

    Target sites for dredging are first mapped and then reviewed by scientists on board. When they find a suitable site for sampling rocks, the location is given to the bridge and deck crew standby to release the rock dredge. The vessel meanwhile is carefully manoeuvred into position to begin its dredge run.

    The rock dredge is a simple but trusty tool. It’s got a chain net mounted to a sturdy steel mouth, filled with large triangular teeth. The dredge is lowered thousands of metres to the target site, where is it then crashed into the seafloor to bite chunks of seafloor rock to capture for the geologists above.

    Dredge 37 yielded a bounty of rocks from the underworld. This is where our story starts to heat up.

    4
    Behold! The mighty rock dredge used to sample the underworld.

    I like you but not in that way – igneous rocks

    Our boy Pluto gives his name to plutonic rocks. They’re igneous rocks formed from molten rock deep in the Earth’s underworld. Don’t confuse them with platonic rocks though! They’re rocks that you have strong feelings for but not in a romantic way (your ‘friend zone’ rocks).

    There wasn’t a lot of love for plutonic rocks on this voyage. It was their extrusive cousins (molten rock that flowed and formed on the surface) which hold the secrets, history and formation of the Coral Sea region. Within the matrix of these extrusive rocks are minerals researchers can use to date the age of the seafloor. They do this using the Argon-Argon dating technique.

    The most prized rock within a sample is basalt. A dredge containing fresh volcanic basalt is prize greater than diamonds or gold for our marine geologists!

    Dredge 37 gave up some of this precious rock. The altered basalts collected indicated some fierce battles had taken place after they formed. Many of the basalts were fractured, with a variety of veins and infill, including calcite, zeolite, and quartz.

    Other igneous rocks in the dredge showed the scars of similar underworld battles. Plutonic dolerite, which forms at great depths, was altered with infiltration by quartz veins. This is a possible sign of hydrothermal activity where hot fluids flow through the already formed rock.

    5
    Altered basalt, a prized haul for our geologists. Image: Science team.

    This relationship is going nowhere – sedimentary rocks

    In contrast to the rocks formed in underworld fires, the dredge also brought forth rocks that formed during the slow settling of sediments and other materials. This included rudstone, carbonate mudstone and volcanic breccia.

    6
    Volcanic breccia containing many different types of rock. Image: Science team.

    The rudstone and carbonate mudstone were white and dark grey, indicating the presence of calcium carbonate. Rocks containing white calcium carbonate may point to a time the seafloor was above or closer to sea level, even though it may now be many kilometres below the surface today.

    Breccia generally has a more violent origin. It’s made up of different rock fragments cemented together and can tell us about past volcanic eruptions. This provides context for the type of eruption that occurred. They’re either effusive with flowing lava, or explosive where lava and rock fragments were blasted up into the air and water.

    Breccia samples from this location contained more than one rock type within them (termed polymictic volcanic breccias). These point to a mixing of sediments and materials from nearby volcanic eruptions.

    It’s time for a change – metamorphic rocks

    Dredge 37 also recovered the beautiful serpentinite. Not to be confused with Pluto’s wife, the beautiful Proserpine, who he kidnapped and took to the underworld to live with him.

    Serpentinite is a metamorphic rock. It forms when certain rocks (ultramafic for those playing at home) are altered in underwater environments near the Earth’s surface. Its formation can point to a battle between worlds, as grinding tectonic plates open fractures into the underworld, allowing fluids to penetrate and alter the dry rocks beneath.

    7
    The beautiful serpentinite formed by water percolating through the dry underworld. Image: Science team.

    How will this all end?

    The underworld is the source of many stories that both captured the imagination and guided the ancient Romans in their daily lives. The research on this voyage into our underwater underworld of the Coral Sea is no different.

    It will increase our understanding of the age and evolution of the Coral Sea’s seafloor, and the chains of seamounts formed. It will also help define the extent of Australian continental crust in the Coral Sea – where one world ends and the next begins.

    Scientists from all over the world will now work on these rocks, giving them the material to tell the story of our underworld, creating a new understanding of the battles that took place to form the surface of our planet – above and below the waves – in bygone eras.

    Modern-day bards of the internet will tell the tale of this voyage for years to come!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:42 am on October 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: As collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities becomes commonplace so does the blending of two different knowledge systems., CSIROscope, Mibu Fischer-a Quandamooka woman, ,   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM-“Saltwater science and sea country research” Mibu Fischer 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    25 October 2019
    Mibu Fischer

    1
    Mibu Fisher, Quandamooka woman and CSIRO scientist.

    “There was a calming connection for me when I woke in the early hours of our departure. The ship was being quietly guided through Moreton Bay, home to the Quandamooka People. I myself am a saltwater woman, a Quandamooka woman, with connections to all three clan groups. I am also a marine scientist with Oceans and Atmosphere here at CSIRO.”

    Saltwater scientists

    Coastal and marine researchers are increasingly aware of the marine rights and interests that Traditional Owners have. As collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities becomes commonplace, so does the blending of two different knowledge systems.

    There is a growing demand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners to lead sea country research. Traditional Owners should also be appropriately acknowledged for their involvement in collaborative projects.

    Many, including the Marine National Facility, are exploring the ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can and currently engage in marine science.

    Those with a connection to sea country, from marine scientists to sea rangers, know the management, conservation and understanding of Australian coastal systems with both knowledge systems only enhances all Australians’ livelihoods.

    2
    Mibu testing water on RV Investigator.

    Indigenous engagement a first

    RV Investigator’s recent Brisbane to Darwin voyage provided the opportunity for some of its first Indigenous engagement and science on board.

    A project, led by Dr Rachel Przeslawski of Geoscience Australia, included detailed habitat mapping in Wessel Marine Park.

    Researchers have only mapped around 3 per cent of the seafloor in this area. It’s relatively data-poor yet is culturally significant and home to many endangered species like the Mududhu (Olive Ridley Turtle) Wirrwakunha (Hawksbill Turtle).

    The area is recognised as sea country for the Yolngu people and managed by the Gummur Marthakal rangers. From the beginning, researchers consulted local ranger and Traditional Owner groups to inform them of the research’s direction.

    Jane Garrutju Gandangu is one of the Golpa Traditional Owners of this area.

    I met with Jane in Darwin after the mapping work was undertaken where we showed her through the RV Investigator. She also met members of the project team on board, who showed her the mapping of the area and video from the underwater camera.

    Part of the area surveyed includes a ‘hole’ in the seafloor recognised as a sacred site – an area Jane already knew from songlines. Traditional Owners have sung these stories and passed them down through the generations from when the land was dry. Golpa walked on that land more than 10,000 years ago.

    The project team are continuing to work with the Golpa and sea rangers to enable the valuable information gathered to support the management of their sea country.

    3
    Deepsea Country, piece by Shara Delaney. Her work hangs up in RV Investigator.

    A voyage to collaboration

    The link between both knowledge systems was even clearer on RV Investigator’s latest voyage.

    The Marine National Facility commissioned a piece by Aboriginal artist Shara Delaney. Shara is an Aboriginal contemporary artist from Quandamooka Country, inspired by stories of her Elders, the generation of One Mile. Her piece reflected the strong connections that Quandamooka People have with the ocean as Saltwater People.

    A copy of the artwork takes pride of place on board the vessel while the original hangs at our office in Hobart.

    Future careers

    While it’s good to promote what we’re doing with Traditional Owners, we’re hoping to extend the opportunity for other Indigenous scientists.

    The Marine National Facility has developed an Indigenous Time at Sea Scholarship program. It aims to increase engagement and capability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to participate in the ship’s scientific voyages.

    This program will enable practical experience and expose students to connecting with experienced researchers and like-minded students.

    It has been wonderful to see how we’re identifying opportunities for partnerships, education, engagement and employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in saltwater science, recognising the value of this shared knowledge.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:13 am on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Tropical ocean bacteria help pump CO2 out of the atmosphere", , CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope: “Tropical ocean bacteria help pump CO2 out of the atmosphere” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    24 October 2019
    Pearse James Buchanan, University of Liverpool
    Richard Matear, CSIRO
    Zanna Chase, University of Tasmania

    1
    Close-up of a marine nitrogen fixer colony. Credit: Angelicque White, Author provided

    What will our climate look like in 200 years? The answer to this question depends on our emissions of greenhouse gases, but also on all the complex and interlinked physical and biological processes that make up the climate system. One of these processes has a surprising source: tiny bacteria living in tropical oceans. Our latest research [Nature Communications] shows how important some special bacteria, called nitrogen fixers, are to the global process of pulling carbon dioxide (CO₂) out of the atmosphere.

    The story begins with another type of single-celled microbe known as phytoplankton. Like plants, phytoplankton create their own food using sunlight and CO₂, absorbing much of the CO₂ as they grow. When they die, they sink to the deep ocean, taking the CO₂ with them.

    The constant removal of CO₂ from the air to the surface of the water and then to the deep ocean is termed the “biological pump”. The stronger the collective biological pump action of phytoplankton, the less CO₂ in the atmosphere and the cooler the planet.

    2
    The cold ocean of an Ice Age drew carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Credit: Pearse J. Buchanan

    The cold climate of the Earth’s ice ages was due in part to a more vigorous biological pumping [Treatise on Geochemistry (Second Edition)]. At these times, global temperatures were 5°C lower than today. Glaciers covered the Siberian, European and North American landmasses, and sea level dropped more than 100 metres. These extreme conditions were brought about by a decline in atmospheric CO₂ of about 100 parts per million.

    We know that the ocean absorbed the CO₂, and that the increase in drawdown came partly from a change in ocean circulation [AGU]. The ability of the ocean to hold CO₂ depends on how it circulates, with some modes of circulation enabling more storage than others. But this only explains between a third and two-thirds of the CO₂ drawdown. The rest was due to a strengthening of the biological pump.

    Dust and nitrogen fixers

    For years, scientists have tried to explain this strengthening by looking at what happened to cold-water phytoplankton living in places such as the Southern Ocean. This ocean tends to be starved of iron, a nutrient essential for photosynthesis. The climate during the ice ages contained a lot of iron-rich dust, so there is strong evidence that this stimulated the growth of cold-water phytoplankton.

    But recent climate modelling [Geophysical Research Letters] has shown that fertilisation of the Southern Ocean with iron didn’t lead to enough CO₂ absorption to explain the ice ages. So, along with our colleagues Steven Phipps and Nathan Bindoff, we investigated the role of phytoplankton that live in the warm, tropical ocean.

    Tropical phytoplankton tend to be starved of nitrogen, not iron. But these waters also contain a special group of bacteria that can “fix” nitrogen, turning nitrogen gas into forms that can be used by living things. The presence of nitrogen-fixing bacteria therefore fertilises warm-water phytoplankton, enabling their growth and strengthening the biological pump.

    3
    A dust storm blows over the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: NASA

    But much like cold-water phytoplankton, nitrogen fixers also need iron. In fact, nitrogen fixation is an iron-hungry process, and colonies made up of millions of nitrogen fixers work together to capture and extract the iron from dust particles. Realising the potential of nitrogen fixers, we added them to an ocean climate model and found that they played a pivotal role in strengthening the biological pump when the ocean is fertilised with iron, as during the ice ages.

    This finding reveals how the biological pump could have been strengthened everywhere, in both the Southern Ocean and the tropics. Only a global view of the biological pump can explain the full drawdown of CO₂ during the ice ages.

    Climate change today

    Given our current need to reduce the amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere, it may seem tempting to try fertilising the ocean with iron in order strengthen the biological pump again. Realistically, a lot more research would need to be done to determine the potential and the risks of this action.

    But even if we don’t try to geoengineer the planet, changes in the biological pump may be coming our way. There is some evidence [phys.org] that nitrogen fixation has been increasing since the industrial revolution, a sign of a strengthening biological pump.

    One thing is clear, the biological pump will help determine the long-term trajectory of Earth’s climate. If (and hopefully when) we stop our emissions, the biological pump will come to the forefront as a major control of atmospheric CO₂. How it responds will either amplify or ameliorate our greenhouse problem, and so it is imperative that we continue to build our understanding.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:22 pm on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A chance encounter with a pulsar", , , , , CSIROscope, Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars,   

    From CSIROscope: “A chance encounter with a pulsar” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    22 October 2019
    Louise Jeckells

    1
    The ASKAP radio telescope in all it’s glory.

    When you think you’ve seen it all, look again – there might be a pulsar staring back at you.

    Our scientists accidentally stumbled upon a pulsar, which is not an easy, or simple, task.

    Ok, hold on – what is a pulsar?

    When a giant star explodes, the core it leaves behind is a neutron star
    Neutron stars are roughly 10 km in radius and about 1.4 times heavier than the Sun
    A teaspoon of neutron star material would weigh about 10 million tons
    A highly-magnetized rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation (think of a lighthouse) is a pulsar.

    Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the first pulsar in 1967.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Today, astronomers have discovered most of the brighter and slower pulsars using large telescopes like our Parkes Radio Telescope (aka The Dish).

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    Emil Lenc is a research scientist with our Astronomy and Space Science team. He’s not a pulsar astronomer. Emil works on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in remote Western Australia. His job is to put the telescope through its paces. To experiment with innovative ways to process telescope data.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    But Emil, alongside a group of other scientists, discovered one of these highly-magnetized rotating neutron stars. It’s called PSR J1431-6328. Very creative.

    3
    The densely packed matter of a pulsar spins at incredible speeds, and emit radio waves that can be observed from Earth. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions/CAASTRO.

    The accidental discovery

    In May, PhD student Andrew Zic planned to observe the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri – the closest star to the Sun. He wanted to better understand the flaring process and the implications for life on exoplanets around that star. But his four-day observation helped discovered something new.

    During the Proxima Centauri observation, Emil wanted to test a new feature on ASKAP. The feature gave ASKAP the ability to see in circular polarisation. This is where the wave component of light from a source rotates in a circular motion. This form of light is not common in astronomical sources but can be seen in flaring stars and some pulsars.

    “Our eyes can’t distinguish between circularly polarised light and unpolarised light. But ASKAP has the equivalent of polaroid sunglasses that can help highlight such sources against the glare of thousands of unpolarised sources,” Emil said.

    “It worked a treat. Proxima Centauri stood out like a sore thumb. But I noticed another weaker source at the edge of the image. I had one of those ‘hmm, that’s weird’ moments.”

    Emil let the Variable and Slow Transients (VAST) team that he collaborates with know of the potential discovery. They gathered clues from any previous observations to track down the culprit. Was it a flare star, a new pulsar, or perhaps something else?

    “My colleague Shi Dai used the Parkes Radio Telescope to confirm that our mystery source had periodic pulses and was indeed a newly discovered pulsar.”

    A rare sighting

    Not only was this the first pulsar discovered with ASKAP but also the first pulsar revealed by its circular polarisation. As it turns out, it’s also in the top 90 fastest spinning pulsars (out of about 2700 known pulsars). And it’s spinning at a rate of around 360 times a second!

    “When you’re looking at the sky for the first time through a new instrument, you’re bound to find something fascinating. In this case, there was nothing else in the field. It’s very rare you have something that sticks out so much.”

    “There are hints the pulsar we discovered is part of a binary system,” Emil explained.

    A binary system is simply one in which two objects orbit around a common centre of mass. That is, they are gravitationally bound to each other. Binary systems with pulsars are of immense importance to astronomers as they allow them to test our understanding of gravity.

    “Being part of this system would affect the timing of the pulsar ever so slightly depending on whether it is heading towards us or away from us during its orbit around a companion.”

    The team has been given extra time with the Parkes Radio Telescope to get a better estimate of the timing. And to see if they can find evidence of its companion.

    If you’d like to read more, these findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:50 am on October 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Chasing the sun with the World Solar Challenge", , CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope: “Chasing the sun with the World Solar Challenge” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    7 October 2019
    Kate Cranney

    1

    When you think of road-tripping through central Australia, what kind of vehicle do you picture? A beat-up campervan with faded curtains? A caravan with funky decor and a funkier smell? How about a sleek, futuristic machine that’s powered by the sun?

    Every two years, teams of university and high school students from around the world descend on Darwin for a very different kind of road trip… the World Solar Challenge!

    2
    The World Solar Challenge chases the sunshine along the Stuart Highway (Image: WSC)

    World Solar Challenge: 3000 kilometres of sunshine and speed

    It’s a solar-powered journey through Australia’s red centre.

    Since 1987, the World Solar Challenge has pushed the boundaries of vehicle technology. The event has a star-studded list of alumni, including Larry Page (Google co-founder) and JB Straubel (Tesla co-founder and Chief Technical Officer), who says the event was a “key thing at the beginning of Tesla” and that he hired most of the initial Tesla staff from his World Solar Challenge team!

    This year, nearly 50 teams (some of them with 40 members), will drive their sleek solar-powered machines from Darwin to Adelaide. That’s over 1500 participants from around the world, who will be watched by a global audience of 25 million. It’s certainly not your average drive through the countryside!

    3
    No scientists were injured in the taking of this photo! Scrutineering in full flight at the Convention Centre in Darwin. (Image: World Solar Challenge)

    Who ya gonna call?! (If there’s something strange under your hood …)

    Our scientists have played a key role in the World Solar Challenge since it began in 1987.

    Apart from overseeing the scrutineering, we travel with the teams, providing expert advice and helping with technical problems; we oversee the electric vehicle chargers along the journey; and our scientist, Dr Glenn Platt, will be on the expert panel at the event finale—the Smart Grid Pitch in Adelaide.

    At the finish line, Dr David Rand AM will be checking the vehicles’ batteries as they arrive into Adelaide, to make sure they’re still within regulations. David has worked with CSIRO for 50 years. He is now the chief energy scientist at the World Solar Challenge, and he’s been involved in the event since it began some 32 years ago.

    It’s a big call, but we might be the world’s biggest fans of the world’s biggest solar challenge!

    What’s under the bonnet? Scrutineering in the Top End

    This week, the teams will gather for a week in Darwin, where scientists will scrutineer the vehicles ahead of the journey. It’s a heady start to the event. The students have spent months designing and building their cars, and our scientists will be there to make sure everything is up to scratch.

    4
    Scrutineering in action. The ‘white shirts’ (event officials) inspecting a concentrating solar collector from their 2013 car. From left to right: Prof John Storey (UNSW), Dr David Rand (CSIRO) & Dr John K Ward (CSIRO) (Photo: JLousberg).

    Dr John Ward is the assistant chief scrutineer. In other words, this week he’ll be making sure the cars are above board. During the ‘static scrutineering’, the cars will be pulled apart to be inspected, to make sure they’re roadworthy, safe, and that they abide by regulations.

    John started volunteering with the event in 2005. Back in Newcastle, he leads one of our research team that tackles the challenges of integrating large amounts of intermittent renewable energy into Australia’s electricity networks. But out on the road, he’ll be something of a solar-car doctor on call. He’ll be there to help teams out if things go wrong, if there’s are any curly situations.

    “Some of the most interesting stories have been the overcoming of the challenges or problems,” John says. “One year, a car caught fire not long out of Darwin [no-one was hurt]. We had to put it on a trailer to Alice Springs. Then Glenn [Platt], myself and other volunteers all descended on the car, stayed up all night and we rebuilt this car and got it back on the road.”

    High-tech science in outback Australia

    “These cars are always at the forefront of the best solar cells, the highest efficiency electric motors, highest specific energy storage,” says John. He adds that if you want a glimpse into the future of solar-powered cars, “This is where you can see it.”

    The World Solar Challenge shows the promise of solar and batteries for our energy future. The event has been happening since 1987, so we know these technologies work. We also know solar technology works because we’ve now exceeded 2 million rooftop installations in Australia, well beyond what anyone predicted! Demonstration events like this drive innovation along.

    But how do we transition these technologies into the broader energy network? That’s something our researchers are working on by, for instance, modelling renewable energy in the grid.

    5
    The World Solar Challenge parade at Victoria Square in Adelaide. (Image: Susan Sun Nunamaker and Sunisthefuture)

    Join the solar-powered celebrations!

    No matter where you live in Australia, we have you covered for this year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. We’ll be updating you on what’s happening on the way via our @CSIROevents twitter.

    If you live in Darwin, Adelaide or anywhere in between, you can come and see the world’s most advanced solar cars for yourself! You can event meet the team members … future Tesla creators, perhaps …

    Check out the program here for more information.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on October 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CSIROscope, , ,   

    From CSIROscope: “Home and array: Investigator shedding light on the EAC” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    1 October 2019
    Dr Thomas Moore

    CSIRO RV Investigator. CSIRO Australia

    1
    Our RV Investigator leaves the shelter of Moreton Bay, steaming for the core of the East Australian Current. Photo: Dr Thomas Moore

    Australia is an ocean nation – we’re girt by 10 million square kilometres of water. Whether you live near the coast or far from the shore, there’s no doubt the oceans are central to your life. From our weather and climate, to our food and energy, right down to our overall lifestyle and wellbeing.

    But much of our surrounding ocean and our four major currents, including the East Australian Current (EAC) remain a mystery. Therefore, scientists are getting out there to see what it’s all about.

    Deepening our understanding of these colossal currents is core business for the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and its Deep Water Moorings Facility, led by our very own Dr Bernadette Sloyan.

    Wait – what exactly is the EAC?

    Bernadette and her science and engineering team have been continuously observing a key slice of the EAC since 2015. We chatted to the Bernadette to break down what the EAC is all about. She’s just returned from a three-week voyage aboard our research vessel Investigator in the Coral Sea.

    “The EAC is the largest ocean feature off Australia’s east coast,” Bernadette said.

    “Changes in the EAC just beyond our beaches impact our coastal industries and communities. Over in Australia’s regional and rural centres, life beats to a drum of climate conditions that is partly influenced by our dynamic ocean and its relationship with the atmosphere.”

    From Queensland to Tasmania, the powerful EAC is up to 100 kilometres wide, 1.5 kilometres deep. And it can carry up to 40 million cubic metres of water each second. That’s 70 billion pint glasses, refilled at sixty times a minute – it’s HUGE!

    Bernadette explained that the EAC serves an important role beyond its powerful flow.

    “It also acts as a kind of salty delivery van. Transporting warm water and nutrients that fertilise our ocean ecosystems,” she said.

    “The EAC is also very fickle, hugging the coast one day and then flowing hundreds of kilometres out to sea the next. This unstable behaviour renews fish stocks, impacts water quality and weather, and sets the water temperature for swimmers and surfers.”

    2
    Dr Bernadette Sloyan, a Chief Research Scientist with our Oceans and Atmosphere team and leader of the IMOS Australian Bluewater Observing System facility, explains her voyage plans to Drs Océane Richet and Violaine Pellichero. Photo: Dr Thomas Moore

    Keeping tabs on the EAC

    In order to monitor how the EAC is changing over time, we use an array of deep-water moorings.

    3
    Deep water mooring at Totten Glacier. Image credit: Steve Rintoul, CSIRO and ACE CRC.

    Consequently, IMOS has established a network of advanced marine equipment that tracks changes in the EAC. It’s currently lined up, across and down the slope of seabed near Moreton Bay, Queensland. This underwater observatory continuously monitors the EAC’s complex and highly energetic nature, discovering links to changes in our climate and coastal ecosystems.

    But, nothing lasts forever. Like a new smartphone, their advanced sensors and tiny computers working away under the waves need to be recharged. As a result, the mooring’s “batteries” go flat about every year and a half.

    The good news is that Bernadette and her team recovered the six deep-water moorings on this latest voyage. They boosted their batteries, downloaded their data, and have put the gear back to work for Australian science.

    4
    Blue-water deck work is a unique and critical capability of CSIRO’s Mooring Sensor Systems team. Jamie Derrick directs the winch driver as a syntactic float with current sensor is recovered from the ocean. Photo: Dr Thomas Moore

    Biologists and oceanographers, unite!

    Our oceanographers were also accompanied on board by biological specialists – collaborators from both University of New South Wales and Griffith University.

    The ecologists were exploring how the EAC and ocean eddies (big ocean whirlpools) that weave their way through it can support abundant and diverse communities of larval fish and sea jellies.

    5
    Paloma, one of the ecologists, examines larval fish. The IMOS Larval Fish & Deep Water Mooring programs link ocean physics to ecosystems driven by a dynamic East Australian Current.

    The voyagers deployed scientific equipment and net systems off Investigator in order to sample the ecology of this ever-changing region off the shore of Brisbane.

    This cooperation between ocean physics and marine biology boffins will help connect the dots between the apparent chaos of a mammoth ocean current and its often-unappreciated impact on our lives.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:40 pm on September 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Saving baby turtles one nest at a time", , CSIROscope, , Predation on turtle nests   

    From CSIROscope: “Saving baby turtles one nest at a time” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    16 September 2019
    Louise Jeckells

    1
    Every year thousands of sea turtles come to the beaches of the western Cape to nest. Photo by Gina Zimny

    When baby sea turtles, or hatchlings, break free from their eggs they have to make a long and difficult journey to the ocean. These tiny newborns face a number of threats just trying to make it to the water’s edge. This running of the gauntlet is critical for their survival and the continuation of the species.

    But before they even leave the nest they’re already under threat. Predators taking eggs from the nest is one of the most significant threats to marine turtles. Feral pigs, goannas and dingoes are disturbing turtle nests in parts of Queensland’s western Cape York Peninsula. Before our research scientist Dr Justin Perry and Indigenous rangers from Aak Puul Ngangtam (APN Cape York) started working in the area, there was 100 per cent predation on turtle nests. No baby turtles were reaching the ocean.

    We’ve been working with the local community since 2008 to understand the impacts of feral animals on the ecological and economic values of northern Australia. Justin and his team focussed on a biocultural assessment to understand the impacts on turtles and to collaboratively design a solution with local people.

    “This was a big problem and the management actions being applied weren’t working,” Justin said.

    “The science and monitoring was separated from the management, and management was separated from the community.”

    2
    Turtles survey team on Cape York beach. Photo by Gina Zimny

    Forging a pig plan together

    “We brought together the regional bodies that were responsible for managing pigs and turtles to create the Northern Nest Project. This was when we started to look at the turtle problem in a holistic way,” Justin said.

    The working group decided to tackle the problem using a targeted control method. They trialed a baiting system to target the specific pigs that were coming onto the beach and eating the eggs.

    This control method was not popular with Traditional Owners as the effects on other species such as dingoes and birds were unknown. The scientists ran a very small-scale project, monitoring every bait station with cameras and providing regular reports. The efforts were rewarded. The following year there was a 100 per cent success rate for baby turtles hatching and reaching the ocean.

    2
    Turtle measurements are essential to improving our understanding. The data is collected at night. Photo by Gina Zimny

    Specific predation plans

    After this success, we (through the Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub project) and APN funded a full-time researcher to patrol the beach during the turtle nesting season. This provided a complete overview of the predation events and turtle nesting habits across the year. Once the team started measuring the pig impacts, they could see the impact of other predators in the area.

    Another Indigenous group had been using cages to stop feral pigs. But the aluminum cages were heavy and hard to manage. So Justin and his team decided to test the effectiveness of inexpensive and easy to carry garden mesh for protecting nests from predators. APN’s resident scientist, Gina Zimny, meshed hundreds of nests across the season. When the team tallied up the impact, it was clear that this method was only stopping a handful of predators. The mesh protected nests from hungry dingoes but only stopped around 10 per cent of goannas. And they were helpless against the destructive power of feral pigs.

    4
    Mesh protects turtle hatchlings from predation but still enables them to head for the ocean. Photo by Gina Zimny

    Protecting the nests of marine turtles from raids by pigs, dingoes and goannas requires species-specific management strategies. To tackle this challenge, we designed an interactive dashboard that combined all the data that had been collected for the past four years. This way rangers could see how effective their management efforts had been.

    On target

    Justin said the most efficient way of controlling predation was linking the monitoring data with management.

    “Everyone agreed that the value was getting more baby turtles into the ocean. And turtle experts had set a target of 70 per cent of nests hatching to maintain a healthy population.

    “To hit this metric of success, we knew we had to apply an adaptive management process to the problem,” Justin said.

    5
    Cape York. Photo by Gina Zimny

    “We’re working towards providing an immediate feedback loop on predation. The idea is to link an iPad application with a cloud server. Then when the rangers return every night, a summary dashboard updates and provides all the data required to react to the situation.

    “It’s such a vast landscape so the only way to win is to tackle one small task at a time. Trying to control the entire pig population is not feasible. But targeting the egg-eating individuals can be done and we have shown that it works,” Justin said.

    This year we are working on automating the data analysis and summaries so that rangers get to see what’s happening on their beaches in real-time. Having real-time data linked with planned management responses will close the adaptive management loop. And it will give the baby turtles the best chance of making it from nest to ocean.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
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