In this issue

Issue 84

Still waters cause a stir at Chaffey
Tamworth's Chaffey Dam is the focus of a three-year, cooperative effort to unravel, understand, and devise ways of managing the mechanisms that cause blue-green algal blooms in warm-climate water storages. Through a series of experiments at Chaffey Dam, researchers aim to discover why attempts to control algal blooms by mixing the water in lakes using a technique called artificial destratification have been largely unsuccessful. They believe the answer may lie in the interplay between physical processes controlling light availability to algae and chemical processes controlling the availability of nutrients.
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Urgent need to conserve Asian fishery
Expertise gained by CSIRO scientists at Sarawak, Malaysia, has led to their involvement in a million-dollar project to assist in the conservation of Bangladesh's hilsa fishery. Most hilsa are caught using drift or gill nets from traditional, non-mechanised wooden boats. The fishery is an integral part of the economy and social life of millions of people in Bangladesh, so it is vital that overfishing and pollution are controlled.
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Rehabilitating the final void
A study centred on seven open-cut coal mines in Queensland's Bowen Basin will help mining companies develop strategies to reduce the long-term impacts of their activities on the environment. Of concern is the quality and quantity of water entering the sites last excavated.
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Cease-fire at Kapalga
Two decades of ecological research drew to a close in May 1995 when CSIRO's Division of Wildlife and Ecology ceased managing Kapalga Research Station in the Kakadu National Park, NT. Kapalga has been at the forefront of research for conservation management in tropical Australia since its establishment by the Division in 1976. Studies have focused on the wildlife of Kakadu's wetlands, the impact of Asian water buffalo, and recently fire - the Top End's most contentious land management issue.
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Learning to live with El Nino
The Climate Variability Program, involving the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology, and other federal and state research agencies aims to contribute to climatic forecasts for events such as El Nino, so plans can be devised to manage the impact of climatic extremes.
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Havoc surrounds a wave called Kelvin
Scientists at CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre are working to develop an ocean-atmosphere model that simulates the El Nino-Southern Oscillation.
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Modellers keep an eye on the future
For over 30 years researchers have tried to simulate the world's climate by computer models that link oceanic and atmospheric processes. The difficulty in predicting sea-surface temperatures is one of many constraints that climate modellers are working to overcome. They also face complications such as: the influence of 'chaos'; the need for enormous computing power; variations in geographical scale; the difficulty of representing convection; and factors beyond the Pacific Basin that affect the climate system.
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A future built on imagination
Computer models which generate predictions of long-term weather sequences are being used to aid studies of the behaviour of environmental systems that are climate-driven. This includes the impact of extreme weather events on large structures and cities, and processes such as erosion and water quality in lakes and streams.
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Climate link may yield fishy secrets
The commercial fishing industry is as susceptible to the vagaries of climate variability as any farmer. An important outcome of climate variability models could be to help fisheries authorities understand the range of variability in marine ecosystems, and how this affects resource management.
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Better warnings a boon for the forest
Australia's forest industry, firefighting agencies, and natural disaster authorities have a mutual interest in improved forecasting of El Nino events. Researchers at the CSIRO Division of Forestry are attempting to tie better prediction of drought or significant rainfall events into information systems that would give fire-control agencies more time to plan for high-risk summers.
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Farm-planning for all seasons
No industry sector in Australia feels the impact of drought earlier or more severely than agriculture. CSIRO's climate variability program aims, in the long term, to give rural communities reliable predictions of climate as far as three seasons ahead, and to develop tools to simplify decision-making. Farmers will use more reliable predictions of seasonal conditions to enhance their agronomic and economic decisions.
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Climate extremes a challenge for pastoralists
In Australia's arid zone the way graziers manage environmental climate variability can magnify or minimise the impact of grazing on the landscape. What makes management challenging is the diversity of climatic regimes in the rangelands.
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Getting the jump on pests
Knowing what is likely to happen to the climate a season ahead could have profound impacts on the way farmers and graziers manage weeds, pests and diseases. Computer software that can predict the response of a plant or insect pest to short-term climate variation is being developed by CSIRO. The prediction will help state agriculture departments and farmers to devise better control strategies for particular weeds or pests thus minimising damage.
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A rare habitat feels the squeeze
Changed fire regimes since European settlement have enabled tropical rainforest in northern Queensland to advance into wet schlerophyll habitat. The encroachment is affecting animals dependent on the sclerophyll forest and creating debate about appropriate management of the forest.
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Joining hands to save birds in the bush
The book, Birds of South-western Australia, presents the results of a community-based observer scheme to map the distribution of birds in Western Australia's south-western agricultural area, to gauge numbers between 1987-1990, and to examine changes to their distribution and abundance this century. It also examines the major agents of change, and suggests ways of incorporating nature conservation into landscape management, so that declining birds may be protected.
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Monumental work with weevils
A profile of entomologist Elwood Zimmerman, whose research work has culminated in the monumental 8 volume work, Australian Weevils.
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Creating a butterfly effect
The endangered Richmond birdwing butterfly has come under increasing pressure from the clearing of remnant rainforest verges in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. 130 schools across the butterfly's former range, between Grafton and Maryborough, have been involved in planting the vine on which the butterfly depends. At the same time, community efforts to remove the imported Dutchman's pipe, which is toxic and poisons the emerging caterpillars which feed on it, are starting to have an impact.
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