Let’s talk about the weather - or more precisely, extreme weather events, such as fire, floods, droughts and cyclones. Yes, Australia has always been a country of extremes, but all indicators are pointing to likely increases in frequency and/or intensity of extreme events in coming decades. What do we need to be better prepared? This is a timely conversation for Australians to be having.
In just the first couple of months of 2014 across this country, Cyclone Christine caused several days’ losses of economic productivity in mines and ports in the Pilbara, significant heatwaves caused spikes in numbers of people being admitted to hospital in capital cities, and even stopped play at the Australian Open, and extensive fires caused significant damage to ecosystems and property, including loss of lives. In the last week of January, another cyclone bore down on north Queensland, and heatwaves and fires again afflicted the southern half of our continent.
Science can’t prevent extreme events. But good ecosystem science - underpinned by collaborative research infrastructure such as that being delivered through TERN - is a demonstrably cost-effective way to increase our understanding of the complexities of their impacts, and therefore better inform preparedness and adaptation by communities, industries and management agencies.
How? Collected here is an impressive range of examples of scientists and managers using TERN’s research infrastructure to attack problems associated with fires, cyclones, droughts, dust storms, heatwaves and floods. Among them:
- Long-term observations of cyclone impacts in the Wet Tropics has enabled local management groups to be more cost-effective and efficient in their response and recovery efforts
- How are repeated heatwaves affecting our ecosystems? A team of researchers is gaining novel insights
- New perspectives on the complexities of arid Australia’s climatic extremes
- Improved community and scientific understanding of the risks associated with dust storms
On Monday 10th February 2014 leading TERN researchers presented some of the latest scientific insights and products relevant to managing and recovering from extreme events, such as fire, floods, drought and cyclones. This free public briefing was kindly hosted by the Bureau of Meteorology and all the presentations can be viewed here.
On this page you will find regularly updated links describing the efforts of TERN and our many partners to understand the science of extreme weather events.