Work on Australia’s new $120 million Marine National Facility research vessel, Investigator, moved from the drafting table to the shipyard today.
Cutting the steel for the vessel started in Singapore, heralding a new era in marine and atmospheric research for scientists.
Australia’s ocean territory is the third largest in the world and includes unique biodiversity and valuable resources and marine science is critical for the sustainable management of our ocean assets.The Executive Director of the Future Research Vessel Project at CSIRO, Toni Moate, who is attending the steel cutting ceremony in Singapore, said the 93.6 metre research vessel will be capable of conducting marine research from our coastal waters, to the Antarctic ice edge and to the tropical waters to the north.
The contract to design, build and commission the vessel was awarded to Teekay Holdings Australia, which partnered with the Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore because of its track record and strong commitment to new technologies and innovation.
“The equipment on board our new world-class vessel will for the first time allow Australian scientists to carry out advanced atmospheric research on board the Marine National Facility,” Ms Moate said.
“It will also be capable of mapping the seafloor six kilometres below the surface, conducting deep water coring to 24 metres and it will have the latest satellite communications technology.”
Investigator will be operated by CSIRO and will be available to all Australian marine scientists. It replaces the existing Marine National Facility ship, Southern Surveyor, which is 40 years old.
In 2009 the Australian Government committed AU$120 million to the purchase of a new research vessel for the Marine National Facility. The project is an initiative of the Australian Government being conducted as part of the Super Science Initiative and financed from the Education Investment Fund.
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Oceanographers have identified a series of ocean hotspots around the world generated by strengthening wind systems that have driven oceanic currents, including the East Australian Current, polewards beyond their known boundaries.
The hotspots have formed alongside ocean currents that wash the east coast of the major continents and their warming proceeds at a rate far exceeding the average rate of ocean surface warming, according to an international science team whose work is published in the journal Nature Climate Change today.
Paper co-author, CSIRO’s Dr Wenju Cai, said that while the finding has local ecological implications in the region surrounding the hotspots, the major influence is upon the ocean’s ability to take up heat and carbon from the atmosphere.
In Australia’s case, scientists report intensifying east-west winds at high latitudes (45º-55ºS) pushing southward and speeding up the gyre or swirl of currents circulating in the South Pacific, extending from South America to the Australian coast. The resulting changes in ocean circulation patterns have pushed the East Australian Current around 350 kilometres further south, with temperatures east of Tasmania as much as two degrees warmer than they were 60 years ago.
“We would expect natural change in the oceans over decades or centuries but change with such elevated sea surface temperatures in a growing number of locations and in a synchronised manner was definitely not expected,” said CSIRO’s Dr Wenju Cai.
“Detecting these changes has been hindered by limited observations but with a combination of multi-national ocean watch systems and computer simulations we have been able to reconstruct an ocean history in which warming over the past century is 2-3 times faster than the global average ocean warming rate,” says Dr Cai, a climate scientist at CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Research Flagship.
The changes are characterised by a combination of currents pushing nearer to the polar regions and intensify with systematic changes of wind over both hemispheres, attributed to increasing greenhouse gases.
Dr Cai said the increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has been the major driver of the surface warming of the Earth over the 20th century. This is projected to continue.
He said the research points to the need for a long-term monitoring network of the western boundary currents. In March next year, Australian scientists plan to deploy a series of moored ocean sensors across the East Australian Current to observe change season-to-season and year-to-year.
Lead author of the paper was Dr Lixin Wu, of the Ocean University of China, with contributing authors from five countries, many of whom are members of the Pacific Ocean Panel working under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation.
The research was partly funded by a grant from the Australian Climate Change Science Program supported by the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
Below are some questions from readers of this post and some answers from Dr Cai. Hope they help.
Q1: This suggests there has been an acceleration in export of equatorial heat to the mid latitudes. Where did it go? Granted land-based measures are sparse in the the southern hemisphere but there are satellite-based measures for more than half the period described indicating trivial to no southern hemispheric warming.
Given that recent research suggests an acceleration in circumpolar winds and a cooling trend in the Antarctic shouldn’t we see significant warming in the mid-latitudes with increased tropical export and reduced polar transport?
Are we merely looking at a simple rearrangement of earth’s thermal furniture rather than a net increase in temperature?
A: It is a combination of both. We see an increase in global ocean averaged temperature as well.
The reason I distinguish this from “global warming” is that the increased circumpolar circulation could be responsible not only for declining Antarctic temperatures but a slowing of thermal egress from the tropics and hence the warmer Tasman.
This rearrangement of the thermal furniture can deliver an increase in surface (sensible) heat without necessarily adding a single joule to the net earth system and thus no “global warming” whatsoever, despite increases in locally measured readings.
A: We have unambiguous evidence showing a net increase in ocean heat content due to global warming.
Don’t believe rearranging heat distribution around the globe can dramatically affect apparent temperature? Check out the global variation demonstrated by El Niño and La Niña phases of the ENSO, all achieved without a massive or even measurable change in incoming solar radiation.
Over what period has the study been conducted ?
A: Since 1900. For the first time century-scale trends are calculated showing synchronised warming along major oceanic currents.
Here are some thoughts that could add to your considerations
I think the ozone layer/hole and its origin through UV insulation and its influence on high altitude and high latitude winds has a lot to do with this phenomenon.
A: That is right. Over the period since 1979, ozone depletion dominates. However, before 1979, increasing CO2 played a part.
Climate change is probably in the mix , but from my reading, the incoming charged particles (both solar and Cosmic) are driving the ozone formation/ destruction is more fundamental.
This Nature article got me thinking along these lines
pushing the roaring forties further south is allowing the EAC too move south
It seems that almost any weather phenomenon can be attributed by researchers to greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide. No proof is needed! Whatever happened to the scientific method that I learned about many years ago? Over the last 50 years the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased by 100 ppm. This equates to one ten thousandth part of the atmosphere! Exactly how this can drive the climate has never been demonstrated quantitatively by any scientist. Does anyone think that the great ball of fire in the sky, aka The Sun, could have anything to do with the climate?
Scientists should be starting with the FACTS and deducing their conclusions from them.
A: It is not the percentage of CO2 of the atmosphere that matters. Rather, it is a perturbation to the balance between emission (source) and uptake by the ocean and the terrestrial sinks that matters. When the emission increases, more CO2 stay in the atmosphere, trapping more heat in the atmosphere.
Australian Pineapplefish: Found in caves and under ledges of rocky, occasionally coral-reef habitats. Max length of about 22cm. Found in depths from 6m to 200m.
There are two pits containing bioluminescent bacteria on the lower jaw near the corners of the mouth, which are concealed when the mouth is closed. This photophore is green in young fish and becomes more red as it ages.
At night, this species ventures out onto sandy flats to feed, using its light organs to illuminate small shrimp. The light may also be used to communicate with conspecifics.The light of the pineapplefish is produced by symbiotic colonies of the bacteria Vibrio fischeri within its photophores.
It is not a resilient species and it takes at least 14 years for populations to double. Due to its small fins and rigid armor, the pineapplefish is a weak swimmer.
OK – we are getting in early for the quirky Australia Day angle. The article below is by Dr Damian Frank who is a CSIRO research scientist with Food and Nutritional Sciences.
As you stand around the BBQ this Australia Day, savouring that quintessential aroma of grilling lamb, spare a thought for the selfless service of our unsung national heroes, our estimated 140 million plus sheep (ovis aries).
Since arriving with the first fleet, descendants of this compact ruminant quadruped have been tirelessly producing the wool and meat that have helped make Australia a strong trading nation, building multi-billion dollar industries. The Australian sheep meat industry did not just evolve by chance; it has benefited from decades of dedicated scientific research by organisations such as state departments of primary industry and CSIRO.
Without the diverse innovations of scientists, it is unlikely that that your grilled lamb chops would be quite as fresh, juicy, succulent, tender and deliciously flavoursome.
That’s assuming that the cook has not burnt the meat to within an inch of its life! Thankfully, it seems that today’s palates are more sophisticated; the burnt offerings of the past are less acceptable today, as people demand grilled meat, with a nice pink middle.
Even Sam Kekovitch’s latest effort to boost lamb consumption, a brave reinvention of the place of lamb in contemporary Australia culture, indicates that finally the messages from celebrity chefs are trickling down… we are taking more interest in the subtle flavour of our lamb, basting and marinating and importantly not over cooking it!
Uncooked meat doesn’t have much smell, and eating it raw has generally not caught on. The discovery of fire by our ancestors and its application to meat is probably the oldest form of food processing; during cooking a protein, sugars and unsaturated fats break down and react to form an array of intense flavour and aroma molecules. Our olfactory receptors and brains are hard-wired to like the molecular signature of grilled meat; even dedicated vegetarians can find meat aroma delicious and almost irresistible. Cooking meat remains an important ritual in most cultures; modern Australia is no exception.
Behind the scenes, a lot goes into getting the texture and flavour of your lamb chop right. The genetics and breeding are important for meat texture; but probably the most important variable affecting flavour is what the animal has been chowing-down on pre-slaughter.
Scientists are studying changes in gene expression at different life stages. A better understanding of key events in building up muscle meat can help identify how to produce meat that is nutritious, healthy, tender and flavourful. These events occur in the embryo, during growth, in response to changes of food and even after slaughter. The laying down of intramuscular fat, which leads to better texture and flavour in the meat, requires a detailed understanding of the interaction of diet and animal metabolism.
The palpable consequences of global warming and the whims of el niño and la niña, are changes in rainfall patterns and drought. Unlike many other meat producing countries, in Australia animals generally graze on pastures and are not fed in feed lots, although they may be fed during drought. Pasture will vary over climate and seasonal cycles, sometimes lacking in nutrients and energy. A severe drought has an impact on the animal’s growth and well being and, not surprisingly, the meat quality.
Insufficient protein or nutrients affect the growth of muscle tissue and the deposition of fat, impacting on meat tenderness and flavour. In a wet year, when pastures are lush, there may be other problems. Some plants may introduce too much of a good thing into the diet, with high protein levels in the pasture resulting in off-flavours such as a “metallic” or “barnyard” in the final meat.
On the grill, it is the rapid reaction of unsaturated fats and amino acids that create the desirable mouthwatering aroma. How subtle differences in the fat and protein profile due to diet impact on the flavour profile is an important area of investigation. Researchers world-wide have long tried to rationally understand the effects of various pasture diets on positive flavour notes and eating quality of lamb.
Anecdotal evidence from farmers and producers is always vital, but rigorous scientific feeding trials are the mainstay of agricultural progress. In a severe drought year, malnutrition and extensive animal mortality are always a threat to farmers. Access to reliable and cost-efficient “finishing feeds” is essential to get through the extreme years. For example, summer and autumn-active forages, such as brassica plant species, are increasingly being used to supply nutrient-rich forages during periods when pastures are low in nutrient availability.
Anecdotally these forages produce offensive odours during cooking. More scientific evidence is required to support this, to enable the farmer to make informed decisions, without impacting negatively on meat flavour. Finding effective, sustainable, cost-effective solutions is a research priority.
Most Australian’s know we’re onto a good thing with lamb. Slightly fatty, sweet and nutty,lamb aroma can be mouth-watering. If it is too strong, it can be objectionable; especially to those from other cultures, unfamiliar with unique grass-fed Australian lamb aroma. When“mutton is dressed up as lamb”, a strong unpleasant odour is often obvious – the offending compounds reside in the fat; trimming the fat usually reduces them. Not entirely, as the intramuscular fat cannot be removed and some odour will remain.
Sometimes a strong mutton aroma could be desirable and even sought out, especially if a “deadly curry” is on the menu. When feasting on a delicately cooked rack of lamb, overpowering mutton flavour is probably not what you want. Minimising undesirable notes and producing lamb with consistent flavour helps Australian lamb producers succeed in existing and new markets.
Finding the compounds responsible for “mutton flavour” continues to be an important research goal, to which Australian scientists have already made an important contribution. The most likely cause being minute quantities of branched chain fatty acids (BCFA). Normally these increase with animal age, however even low amounts of BCFA in young animals can be a problem.
The relationship between breeding and feeding is a complex area that requires effective collaboration of multidisciplinary teams; plant breeders, animal breeders, farmers, geneticists, molecular biologists, food scientists, flavour chemists and sensory and consumer scientists. With their efforts, lamb should continue to be a central part of Australian BBQ culture and also a winning sustainable export item.
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Food production should play a key role in global climate change negotiations according to a paper from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change.
The paper has just been published in Science and demonstrates how research into agricultural practices can not only address food security, but also provide solutions to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
CSIRO Chief Executive Megan Clark is a co-author of the paper and hopes that the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) in Qatar later this year will recognise that food security and climate change are intimately linked.
You can read the paper HERE.
(Due to technical difficulties – I put the wrong publish date in the computer – Friday Fish Time comes to you on Saturday.)
Murray Cod: The Murray Cod is the largest freshwater fish in Australia, and one of the largest in the world. While it is called a cod – it isn’t and is not related to the northern hemisphere marine cod.
It is found in the Murray-Darling river system. The cod population has declined severely since European settlement Australia due to overfishing, river regulation and habitat degradation.
A long-lived fish, they are carnivorous and mainly eat other fish. The species exhibits a high degree of parental care for their eggs, which are spawned in the spring and are generally laid in hollow logs or on other hard surfaces.
They are large fish, with adults growing regularly to between 80 and 100 cm in length in all but the very smallest waterways. Murray Cod are capable of growing well over 1m and the largest on record was over 1.8m and about 113kg in weight.
A 20-metre South African yacht chartered by CSIRO has completed an epic voyage around the Indian Ocean deploying 55 ocean profiling robots to gather ocean and climate data.
The Lady Amber reached Fremantle last week ending a six-month voyage during which she deployed the profiling Argo robotic sensors that will communicate as mid-ocean climate sentinels for at least the next 5-7 years.
Additional sensors have also been deployed during this period by the Royal Australian Navy and US Navy east of the Horn of Africa in a region of the Indian Ocean frequented by pirates. Story HERE.
Although the Argo project offers significant shipping and defence benefits, its primary objective is to monitor ocean heat and salinity patterns that drive the climate and monsoonal systems which bring rain to Australia. The Indian Ocean is a critical source of rainfall for southern and western Australia, and CSIRO has responsibility for deployment of the robotic instruments in much of the Indian Ocean.
Over 30 nations contribute to the multimillion dollar Argo project, in which over 3000 robotic instruments provide near real-time observations of conditions such as heat and salinity in the top 2000 metres of the ocean.
At nearly two metres in length the drifting profilers, or ‘floats’, are programmed to drift at 1000m for 10 days, then descend to 2000m and then sample as they ascend to the surface to upload their data to satellites.
The program is managed through the UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organisation – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology. CSIRO’s contribution is through the Wealth from Oceans Research Flagship.
The Perth-based head of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission office in Australia, Dr Nick D’Adamo said Lady Amber’s contribution to scientific understanding of ocean and climate processes cannot be overstated.
“These Indian Ocean observations also dovetail with Australia’s own Integrated Marine Observing System and play a vital role in supporting State-based marine scientific programs critical for Western Australia, across both public and private industry imperatives.
“Australia is the second largest national contributor to the global Argo program deploying more than 490 sensors in the Indian and Southern Oceans and Tasman Sea and providing an infrastructure cornerstone for this innovative but critical research program.”
CSIRO’s Dr Ann Thresher, who leads the deployment project, said the program is heavily reliant on commercial shipping and research and chartered vessels to deploy the instruments.
“This project has become a significant source of data recording change in ocean conditions relevant to climate but our biggest challenge is finding the vessels from which we can deploy the instruments in locations where we can fill gaps that open up,” Dr Thresher said.
“In this case, the Lady Amber provides us with a flexible option supplementing the support we receive in the region from commercial, naval and research vessels.”
Captain Flanagan considers the charter voyage as payback for a good life at sea.
“I’ve been on the sea for 48 years and the sea has looked after me,” Captain Flanagan said.
” This is a chance to give something back that will contribute substantially to international science and what we understand of our oceans and how they behave and respond.
“In doing so, we’ve experienced every kind of sea imaginable to fill in the gaps for the Argo program so science can continue receiving real-time ocean information.”
The charter was arranged through French scientist, Mathieu Belbeoch, based in Toulouse, France where he coordinates the global Argo program through JCOMM.
This work is part of the Australian Climate Change Science Program, funded jointly by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.
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A previously un-named species of horse fly whose appearance is dominated by its glamorous golden lower abdomen has been named in honour of American pop diva, Beyoncé.
According to the Australian National Insect Collection researcher responsible for officially ‘describing’ the fly as Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae, CSIRO’s Bryan Lessard, the fly’s spectacular gold colour makes it the “all time diva of flies”.
“It was the unique dense golden hairs on the fly’s abdomen that led me to name this fly in honour of the performer Beyoncé as well as giving me the chance to demonstrate the fun side of taxonomy – the naming of species,” Mr Lessard said.
“Although often considered a pest, many species of horse fly are extremely important pollinators of many plants.”
“Horse flies act like hummingbirds during the day, drinking nectar from their favourite varieties of grevillea, tea trees and eucalypts.”
The rare Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae species of horse fly was collected in 1981, the year that Beyoncé was born, from north-east Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands together with two other previously unknown specimens.
“Most Australian Scaptia species have been described, however, these five ‘new’ species of a sub-group (Plinthina) have been housed in Australian collections since the group was last studied in the 1960s,” Mr Lessard said.
According to Mr Lessard’s paper, published in the Australian Journal of Entomology, this discovery has doubled the known size of the Scaptia (Plinthina) subgenus and extended the known distribution of Scaptia into the Northern Territory and north-western Australia where they were previously thought not to exist.
Almost 4400 species of horse flies have been described from all biogeographic regions of the world.
news@CSIRO has sought a response from Beyoncé about the great honour bestowed upon her but is yet to recieve a response. A member of the former group Destiny’s Child, that recorded the 2001 hit single, Bootylicious, Beyoncé has recently had her first larva, sorry, child, and may be too busy to respond.
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Rainbow Trout: Now that is one good looking fish. However, it is not a native of Australia and along with its cousin, the Brown Trout, has caused a lot of environmental damage.
Rainbow trout are native to North America and were introduced to New South Wales from New Zealand (where thay had been previously established) in 1894. Then introduced to Victoria and Tasmania.
Trout have been implicated in the decline of several native fish species as well as the spotted tree frog.
Inhabits cold headwaters, creeks, small to large rivers, and lakes. Stocked in almost all water bodies as lakes, rivers and streams, usually not stocked in water reaching summer temperatures above 25°C or ponds with very low oxygen concentrations. Feeds on a variety of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and small fishes. At the sea, preys on fish and cephalopods. Undertakes short spawning migrations. Used fresh, smoked, canned, and frozen; eaten steamed, fried, grilled, boiled, microwaved and baked. Cultured in many countries and is often hatched and stocked into rivers and lakes especially to attract recreational fishers.
Some Trout science from Wikipedia: As rainbow trout grow, they lengthen and increase in mass. The relationship between length and mass is not linear. The relationship between total length (L, in inches) and total mass (W, in pounds) for steelhead and nearly all other fish can be expressed by an equation of the form:
The factor b is close to 3.0 for all species, and c is a constant that varies among species. For lentic rainbow trout, b = 2.990 and c = 0.000426, and for lotic rainbow trout, b = 3.024 and c = 0.000370.
The relationship described in this section suggests a 33 cm lentic rainbow trout weighs about 0.45 kg, while an 46 cm lentic rainbow trout weighs about 1.1 kg.
Mmmm..Not sure what all that means, but I do know they taste nice.
Volunteers (guinea pigs) needed in Adelaide for “Health benefits of Probiotics and Citrus Nutrients” studyPosted: January 10, 2012
Probiotics: Composite of the Latin preposition pro (“for”) and the Greek adjective βιωτικός (biotic), the latter deriving from the noun βίος (bios, “life”).
They are live microorganisms thought to be beneficial to the host organism.
According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be helpful. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt, soy yogurt, or as dietary supplements.
So, are you:
- Aged between 18 and 70 years, healthy and a non-smoker?
- Able to attend the CSIRO Clinical Research Unit on Kintore Ave in the city on four occasions over seven weeks, and prepared to change/monitor your diet for part of this time?
- Enjoy a healthy diet and have a stable body weight?
If this sounds like you, and you do not regularly consume probiotic supplements or foods containing probiotics, we would love to hear from you.
For further information, call 08 8303 8863, or email: Vanessa.Courage@csiro.au
You will be given a $250 gift voucher in recognition of completing the study.
To register your interest for other studies, please visit the CSIRO Nutrition Trials page HERE.
A team of CSIRO scientists is embarking on a month long research voyage to the Antarctic to investigate the impact of climate change on the Southern Ocean.
CSIRO’s Dr Steve Rintoul will be leading the scientific mission aboard the Aurora Australis and recorded an interview HERE with CSIRO before he left.
There is also an ABC radio interview with Steve about high mercury levels in the Southern Ocean HERE
The Aurora Australis is Australia’s Antarctic Flagship, designed as a multi-purpose research and resupply ship. On New Year’s Eve the Aurora set sail for the Southern Ocean, taking a team of scientists to investigate how the Southern Ocean is changing, and to discover what impact those changes will have on climate, sea level, and marine life.
The month long voyage will see the research team retrieve current monitoring equipment, and deploy deep diving robots, known as Argos, beneath the Antarctic’s Ross Sea winter sea ice.
Southern Bluefin Tuna: The first Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) of the 2012 season were towed into Port Lincoln, South Australia today. According to ABC News reports – the 500 tonnes recorded is the best start to the season in decades.
Max length : 245 cm; common length : 160 cm; max. published weight: 260.0 kg; max. reported age: 20 years.
They live in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, mainly between 30°S and 50°S, to nearly 60°S. During spawning, large fish migrate to tropical seas, off the west coast of Australia, up to 10°S. Highly migratory species.
Lower sides and belly silvery white with colourless transverse lines alternating with rows of colourless dots. The first dorsal fin is yellow or bluish; the anal fin and finlets are dusky yellow edged with black; the median caudal keel is yellow in adults.
Spawning fish and larvae are encountered in waters with surface temperatures between 20° and 30°C. An opportunistic feeder, preying on a wide variety of fishes, crustaceans, cephalopods, salps, and other marine animals. Mostly canned.
In Japan it is highly prized for the sashimi markets.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an expt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.