Australia Science & Nature
‘Important’ change to Southern Cross recognises Aboriginal astronomy
Dakar Rally: Heavy rains force cancellation of Stage 9
The science behind stunning sunsets and rainbows between clouds
Melbourne hit by afternoon downpours ahead of eventual return to summer
Japanese astronaut tells tall tale - from space
How alcohol damages stem cell DNA and increases cancer risk
Australian tropical fish recorded for the first time inside Maltese waters
Heatwave puts pressure on grid
2018-01-19 07:36:56 Heatwave puts pressure on national electricity grid A number of Victorian and South Australian companies are being paid to reduce their energy consumption this afternoon amid fears of a blackout as soaring temperatures put extreme pressure on the national electricity market. The move by the Australian Energy Market Operator came as rising demand pushed the wholesale spot price past $10,000/MWh in Victoria and $13,000/MWh in South Australia as people sought refuge from temperatures that exceeded 40C in both states   Read More ...
Melbourne weather: Several deaths from heat, Avalon Airport hits 42 degrees
2018-01-19 07:08:33 Extreme heat has caused several deaths across the state, emergency services say. Ambulance Victoria responded to 31 cardiac arrest calls on Thursday, a significant spike, Paul Holman, the agency's state health commander, said on Friday. Several of those people died, he said. "That will be due to the heat. "The vulnerable in our community die as a result of this heat   Read More ...
The Y chromosome is disappearing — so what will happen to men?
2018-01-19 07:05:55 The Y chromosome may be a symbol of masculinity, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is anything but strong and enduring. Although it carries the "master switch" gene, SRY, that determines whether an embryo will develop as male (XY) or female (XX), it contains very few other genes and is the only chromosome not necessary for life. Women, after all, manage just fine without one   Read More ...
Major volcano eruption could be imminent, scientist says
2018-01-19 06:41:03 CANBERRA, Australia - Seismic activity beneath a Papua New Guinea volcano could mean that a major eruption was imminent, a scientist said Thursday. Thousands of people have been evacuated from islands surrounding Kadovar Island off the South Pacific nation's north coast since a volcano there began erupting on Jan. 5, spouting ash. Flights nearby have been canceled due to the risk posed by ash plumes and ships were warned to stay away from the island   Read More ...
Melbourne weather: Several deaths from heat, Avalon Airport hits 42 degrees
2018-01-19 06:38:55 Extreme heat has caused several deaths across the state, emergency services say. Ambulance Victoria responded to 31 cardiac arrest calls on Thursday, a significant spike, Paul Holman, the agency's state health commander, said on Friday. Several of those people died, he said. "That will be due to the heat. "The vulnerable in our community die as a result of this heat   Read More ...
Concern over climate change linked to depression, anxiety: study
2018-01-19 06:36:45 Depression and anxiety are afflicting Americans who are concerned at the fate of the environment, according to a study of the mental health effects of climate change. Those hit hardest are women and people with low incomes who worry about the planet's long-term health, said the study published this week in the journal Global Environmental Change. Symptoms include restless nights, feelings of loneliness and lethargy   Read More ...
As NASA reveals stunning images, Antarctica had record low sea-ice coverage in 2017
2018-01-19 06:35:06 However, Antarctica had a record-low sea ice coverage of 6.61 million square kilometres in 2017, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its latest report. In November last year, NASA conducted two missions as part of its Operation IceBridge, which is in its ninth year of flights to map the snow and ice of Antarctica. On November 4, the IceBridge team flew its "Endurance West" mission, which specifically targets sea ice, Then, on November 12, a high-priority mission was conducted over the Larsen C Ice Shelf, as it had been significantly reshaped a few months earlier after it shed an iceberg that measured 5060 square kilometres   Read More ...
Hot meets cold on sea ice research and energy efficiency
2018-01-18 12:26:44 The Director of the Australian Antarctic Division Dr Nick Gales has announced a collaboration with Masdar - a Future Energy Company based in Abu Dhabi - and the Masdar Institute, part of the Khalifa University of Science and Technology. The collaboration will involve sea ice research and investigating more efficient use of energy on Australia’s Antarctic research stations. The collaboration has been formally agreed through the signing of a Letter of Intent by Chief Executive Officer of Masdar Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi; Australia’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Mr Arthur Spyrou on behalf of the Australian Antarctic Division, and Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Interim Executive Vice President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology   Read More ...
'Make or break': UN environment head Erik Solheim warns against coal projects
2018-01-18 09:11:05 The world's coral reefs are at a "make or break point" and every nation should think twice about developing new coal mines, including those planned for Queensland, the United Nations environment chief Erik Solheim said. Mr Solheim, in Australia on a whirlwind trip to meet coral experts and visit the Great Barrier Reef, said coral reefs were one of the planet's most important ecosystems, home to a quarter of the oceans' biodiversity in just 1 per cent of the area   Read More ...
Expert says major eruption in Papua New Guinea could be soon
2018-01-18 06:07:54 CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Seismic activity beneath a Papua New Guinea volcano could mean that a major eruption was imminent, a volcanologist said on Thursday. Thousands of people have been evacuated from islands surrounding Kadovar Island off the South Pacific nation's north coast since a volcano there began erupting on Jan. 5, spouting ash. Flights nearby have been canceled due to the risk posed by ash plumes and ships were warned to stay away from the island   Read More ...
Expert says major eruption in Papua New Guinea could be soon
2018-01-18 04:39:59 CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Seismic activity beneath a Papua New Guinea volcano could mean that a major eruption was imminent, a volcanologist said on Thursday. Thousands of people have been evacuated from islands surrounding Kadovar Island off the South Pacific nation's north coast since a volcano there began erupting on Jan. 5, spouting ash. Flights nearby have been canceled due to the risk posed by ash plumes and ships were warned to stay away from the island   Read More ...
Heatwaves are Australia's deadliest natural hazard and many of us are unprepared
2018-01-18 04:08:56 Heatwaves are Australia's deadliest natural hazard, but a recent survey has found that many vulnerable people do not have plans to cope with extreme heat. Working with the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre and the Bureau of Meteorology, my colleagues and I surveyed 250 residents and 60 business managers in Western Sydney and the NSW North Coast. We found that 45 per cent of those at risk — including the elderly, ill and very young — did not proactively respond to heatwave warnings as they did not think it necessary or did not know what to do   Read More ...
Expert says major eruption in Papua New Guinea could be soon
2018-01-18 02:37:59 CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Seismic activity beneath a Papua New Guinea volcano could mean that a major eruption was imminent, a volcanologist said on Thursday. Thousands of people have been evacuated from islands surrounding Kadovar Island off the South Pacific nation's north coast since a volcano there began erupting on Jan. 5, spouting ash. Flights nearby have been canceled due to the risk posed by ash plumes and ships were warned to stay away from the island   Read More ...
Biggest flooded cave on the planet found in Mexico
2018-01-18 00:14:45 Sac Actun cave system in Mexico could help shed new light on ancient Mayan civilisation A group of divers has connected two underwater caverns in eastern Mexico to reveal what is believed to be the biggest flooded cave on the planet, a discovery that could help shed new light on the ancient Mayan civilisation. Key points: Divers discover 347-kilometre cave in Mexico The finding was made by the Gran Acuifero Maya project The cave could shed more light on the history of the region The Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM), a project dedicated to the study and preservation of the subterranean waters of the Yucatan peninsula, said the 347-kilometre cave was identified after months of exploring a maze of underwater channels   Read More ...
Nuclear war, extreme weather top list of 2018 global threats
2018-01-17 20:27:39 London: Nuclear war, cyber attacks and environmental disasters top the list of man-made threats to global stability in 2018, according to a survey of 1000 international leaders from business, government, education and service groups. The threat of another global financial meltdown, more likely in past years, has ebbed because of economic expansions underway worldwide, the annual World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report found   Read More ...
Study narrows range of Earth's warming response as greenhouse gases rise
2018-01-17 19:18:52 New research has sharply narrowed the likely estimate of how much the Earth will warm with a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, potentially honing estimates that have stood for a quarter century. The long-standing estimate for the so-called equilibrium climate sensitivity used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had been that surface temperatures would rise between 1.5 and 4   Read More ...
‘Important’ change to Southern Cross recognises Aboriginal astronomy
2018-01-17 16:37:30 The five stars of the most famous constellation to grace our skies, the Southern Cross, have had a name revision and one has had a traditional Aboriginal name officially recognised by the international naming authority. The smallest star in the well-recognised configuration has been officially named Ginan, the name by which the Wardaman people of the Northern Territory have been referring to it for thousands of years   Read More ...
The five renewable energy predictions for 2018
2018-01-17 06:34:22 Solar power, batteries and electric vehicles will be the big stories of 2018, as clean energy technology continues to grow rapidly. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysts have outlined the ten factors that will be leading the sustainable energy transition. The Bloomberg team predict Australia will play a major role in the world's energy transition. Solar and wind power generation will continue to grow, with renewables playing a greater role in the world’s energy generation mix, while battery developments will boost renewable energy reliability and aid the spread of electric vehicles   Read More ...
Itsy bitsy, bungee-jumping peacock spiders discovered in the Grampians
2018-01-16 09:08:40 The Grampians is set to become a destination for spider enthusiasts after five species of colourful peacock spiders were discovered there. Of the species, one had never been observed in Victoria and one had never been observed outside Tasmania, making the find quite a coup. Peacock spiders, which are only a few millimetres long, have captured the public imagination recently due to the brightly coloured patterns on the male's abdomen, which it erects and use as part of a dance to woo females   Read More ...
Perth weather: Wild rain thwarts overnight landings at Perth Airport
2018-01-16 04:09:49 It was business as usual at Perth Airport on Tuesday morning following overnight chaos that saw planes delayed due to record wild weather. The city experienced its second wettest January day on record thanks to the remnants of Cyclone Joyce dumping 96mm on the metropolitan area in 24 hours. Torrential rain, coupled with wind speeds in excess of 60 kilometres per hour, led to several flight delays and two aborted landings   Read More ...
Four months of rain in a day as ex-Cyclone Joyce saturates Perth
2018-01-16 04:08:50 Perth saturated as ex-Cyclone Joyce brings four months of rain in a day The remains of ex-tropical Cyclone Joyce has dumped more than four months' worth of rain on Perth in less than 24 hours, leading to power blackouts, flooding and causing havoc for planes trying to land at the city's airport. The conditions were caused by the remnants of ex-tropical Cyclone Joyce, which pummelled Perth with heavy rain for much of Monday   Read More ...
500 years later, scientists think they’ve solved germ mystery that nearly wiped out Mexican population
2018-01-16 03:08:43 IN 1545, disaster struck Mexico’s Aztec nation when people started coming down with high fevers and headaches, bleeding from the eyes, mouth and nose. Death generally followed in three or four days. Within five years, as many as 15 million people — an estimated 80 per cent of the population — were wiped out in an epidemic the locals named “cocoliztli”   Read More ...
Torrential rain in Perth from ex-Cyclone Joyce forces planes to abort landings at Perth Airport
2018-01-16 02:08:12 Hundreds of airline passengers endured nervous moments on Monday as planes bound for Perth were forced to abort landings at the city's airport as an ex-tropical cyclone dumped more than four months' worth of rain on the city in 24 hours. Almost 100 millimetres of rain was dumped on the city overnight as the remains of Cyclone Joyce tracked south over the city   Read More ...
Fossil of 'rainbow' dinosaur with iridescent feathers and Velociraptor-like skull found in China
2018-01-16 02:08:05 Scientists have announced the discovery of a crow-sized, bird-like dinosaur with colourful feathers from north-eastern China that lived 161 million years ago during the Jurassic period. Key points: Caihong was a two-legged predator with a Velociraptor-like skull and sharp teeth It is the earliest-known creature with asymmetrical feathers Plumage could have attracted mates while also providing insulation They named it Caihong, the Mandarin word for rainbow   Read More ...
A major university just went all in on solar power
2018-01-16 00:19:25 A major Australian university is set to achieve carbon neutrality on its energy use and will have all of its energy needs met by solar photovoltaics (solar PV). The University of New South Wales (UNSW) announced Monday that it had entered into a "tripartite arrangement" with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy for an offsite solar PV corporate power purchase agreement   Read More ...
Summer rain smashes Perth weather records with wettest January in 18 years
2018-01-16 00:17:48 Perth has had its wettest January days in 18 years, copping almost 10 times the average rainfall for the month in one single day. Perth recorded 96 millimetres of rain since 9am on Monday, courtesy to the remnants of ex-Cyclone Joyce making its way down from the North-West. On average January receives just 9.7 millimetres. Rottnest Island received 142 millimetres and Swanbourne 139 millimetres as the massive low-pressure front rolled over the city   Read More ...
New tennis stats predict winners, chokers and hardest workers
2018-01-15 22:12:10 The Australian Open is underway and that means one thing is inevitable: commentators dissecting tennis statistics. You're probably familiar with a few of them, at least: how often a player lands their first and second serves, number of winning points, maybe forced and unforced errors. But do they really tell you anything about the game? Many data and sports scientists think not   Read More ...
Philippines raises Mayon volcano alert level after lava flow
2018-01-15 20:24:55 Manila: The Philippines has raised the alert level at its rumbling Mayon volcano to "level 3" after detecting lava flow and indications of activity that could lead to eruptions of magma. More than 9000 people have been evacuated from villages near Mayon, a tourist attraction because of its near-perfect cone shape, following a "steam-driven eruption" on Saturday. People within the slope of the volcano, but outside the established "danger zones", were told to take precautionary measures against possible roof collapses due to accumulated ash and rainwater, and "lahar", an Indonesian term for a volcanic mudflow   Read More ...
Papua New Guinea evacuates thousands threatened by volcano
2018-01-15 13:11:34 CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Authorities in Papua New Guinea are evacuating thousands of people at risk of a volcanic eruption in the South Pacific Island nation's north, the government said Monday. Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said he had directed all relevant state resources be made available to support the evacuation of people at risk due to volcanic eruptions on Kadovar Island in the East Sepik region   Read More ...
Dakar Rally: Heavy rains force cancellation of Stage 9
2018-01-15 08:33:33 DAKAR Rally organisers have decided to cancel Stage 9 of the event, from Tupiza in Bolivia to Salta in Argentina, on safety grounds. DAKAR Rally organisers have decided to cancel Stage 9 of the event on safety grounds. The ninth stage of the event was set to comprise a 755km trek from Tupiza in Bolivia to Salta in Argentina, including a 242km competitive section   Read More ...
Alinta plans rapid expansion into renewable energy
2018-01-15 06:13:18 Alinta Energy wants at least one in five of its customers powered entirely by renewable energy by 2020. The company says it plans to bring a gigawatt of new renewable energy online following its acquisition of Victoria’s Loy Yang B brown coal-fired power station late last year. It finalised the $1 billion acquisition of Loy Yang B on Monday, ensuring that the plant – which supplies nearly a fifth of Victoria’s energy – continues to operate, and is now targeting a rapid expansion of its renewable energy assets by 2020   Read More ...
The science behind stunning sunsets and rainbows between clouds
2018-01-15 06:09:08 Rainbows between clouds, stunning sunsets and other spectacular light shows explained It's a vision of pure glory: thick banks of cloud and a setting sun lighting up the sky in colours from pastel pink to chimney red. In Darwin's steamy wet season, it is not uncommon to find people gazing outwards from camp chairs on the shoreline, where the open harbour mouth offers uninterrupted views of these vivid light displays over rippled water   Read More ...
Perth braces for summer rain from ex-tropical Cyclone Joyce as firefighters contain hills blaze
2018-01-15 02:07:13 The Perth metropolitan area has been warned to brace for up to three months' worth of rain in one day as the remnants of tropical Cyclone Joyce continues to move over the southern half of the state. The category one system crossed the Pilbara coast on Saturday afternoon, dumping heavy rain in the region including 70 millimetres of rain on Mullewa — east of Geraldton — as it moved south   Read More ...
Deadly earthquake measuring 7.1 hits southern Peru
2018-01-14 17:09:35 Lima: A strong magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the coast of southern Peru on Sunday morning, leaving two dead, 17 missing and several dozen injured, while causing homes and roads to collapse. The quake hit offshore at 4.18am local time at a depth of around 36 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said. Its epicentre was in the Pacific Ocean 40 kilometres from the town of Acari   Read More ...
PNG Governor orders evacuation of second volcano as eruption fears mount
2018-01-14 10:12:01 Papua New Guinea authorities have ordered the evacuation of some 3,000 people from Biem Island amid fears of a volcanic eruption, as the country's Prime Minister directed national resources to neighbouring Kadovar island. Key points: The Governor of PNG's East Sepik province has ordered 5,000 people be evacuated from three islands Volcanologists are unsure whether new reports of seismic activity on Biem island are cause for concern The country's Prime Minister has warned people to be ready for a possible tsunami if the Kadovar volcano erupts Biem Island is only around 12 kilometres west of Kadovar Island, where giant plumes of ash and cloud have forced around 700 people to be evacuated in the past week   Read More ...
FSANZ apologises to nanotechnology experts for misrepresenting views about nanoparticles in baby formula
2018-01-13 14:08:08 Australia's food regulator had to apologise to its own advisory group of nanotechnology experts after it "misrepresented" the group's views in its public slapdown of a study that found needle-like nanoparticles in baby formula, internal emails reveal. Fairfax Media reported last year that tests by an Arizona State University team showed the presence of needle-shaped hydroxyapatite nanoparticles – which the European Union's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety had concluded was potentially toxic – in two formula products   Read More ...
Melbourne hit by afternoon downpours ahead of eventual return to summer
2018-01-13 10:11:43 Sunny skies across Melbourne were broken upby thunderstorms amid heavy afternoon downpours on Saturday. Following a humid Friday, Melbourne struggled to crack the 20-degree mark, making it to 20.9 degrees just after midday. While showers did fall across the city on Friday afternoon, rainfall in the 24 hours to 9am was mostly confined to southern and eastern Victoria. The cooler temperatures are expected to coincide with more thunderstorms over the east and even some snow flurries over the Victorian alps tonight   Read More ...
Perth to get a soaking as ex-tropical cyclone moves south
2018-01-13 05:39:30 The state's north no longer risks destruction as ex-Tropical Cyclone Joyce weakens, but severe weather warnings remain in the Pilbara, while Perth can expect a soaking on Sunday and Monday. Reigning Big Bash League champions the Perth Scorchers could even be affected by Joyce; overnight rain and squalls in Alice Springs appear likely to force the cancellation of their top-of-the-table match on Saturday, the first ever BBL match in the Alice   Read More ...
Melbourne bracing for possible afternoon storm ahead of summer return
2018-01-13 05:39:24 Sunny skies across Melbourne could soon be swallowed by thunderstorms as warnings are issued for a possible afternoon downpour. Following a humid Friday, Melbourne was struggling to crack the 20-degree mark by noon on Saturday, nudging towards a predicted top of 21 degrees. While showers did fall across the city on Friday afternoon, rainfall in the 24 hours to 9am was mostly confined to southern and eastern Victoria   Read More ...
Fossil of dinosaur swept away in ancient Australian river found
2018-01-12 12:17:13 In sandstone next to the high tide mark at the edge of Bass Strait in south-eastern Australia, scientists have unearthed fossils of a two-legged, turkey-sized, plant-eating dinosaur apparently swept away in a large, powerful ancient river. Palaeontologists said the partial skeleton of the previously unknown creature, named Diluvicursor pickeringi, that lived about 113 million years ago provides insight into the array of dinosaurs that inhabited Australia during the Cretaceous Period when it was still connected to Antarctica   Read More ...