Friday Fish Time

Common name: Sturgeon Whiptail. Scientific name: Mataeocephalus. acipenserinus. Family: Macrouridae.

Common name: Sturgeon Whiptail. Scientific name: Mataeocephalus acipenserinus. Family: Macrouridae.

Sturgeon Whiptail: I was kicking back watching one of those fishing shows on TV the other day and they were somewhere in Canada catching sturgeon – and they were huge.

Think sturgeon. Think caviar.

So, does Australia have any of these? Nup. We have this thing above, but I have got to say they are a huge disappointment. Yeah I know – all creatures great and small – but this Whiptail just doesn’t cut it. They are actually part of the grenadier family and seem to be cashing in on the sturgeon name.

They grown to a maximum length of about 20cm and are found in depths of between 400m and 1300m off the northern Australian coast.

That’s about it – they are small and ugly.

The REAL sturgeons are bottom-feeders and are usually found in river deltas and estuaries. Some are entirely freshwater and a few venture into the open sea beyond near coastal areas. Several species of sturgeons are harvested for their roe, which is made into caviar.

Sturgeons appeared in the fossil record about 200 million years ago, around the very end of the Triassic, making them among the most ancient of actinopterygian fishes. True sturgeons appear in the fossil record during the Upper Cretaceous.

They are slow growing and can live to 100+ years and can grow to over 5m in length. They are partially covered with bony plates called scutes rather than scales. They also have four barbels – the feelers in front of their mouths – which don’t have any teeth. These are used to drag along the bottom to help them find food and navigate.

Now, THIS is a sturgeon!

This was caught in the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada. It came in at 3.6m and an estimated weight of 499kg.

This was caught in the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada. It came in at 3.6m and an estimated weight of 499kg.


How did amateurs compare with pros at the Tour Down Under?

By Ken Taylor, Research Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre

Serge Pauwels (left) rode conservatively during stage 4 of the Tour Down Under. AAP Image/Benjamin Macmahon

Serge Pauwels (left) rode conservatively during stage 4 of the Tour Down Under. AAP Image/Benjamin Macmahon

If you’ve ever watched a professional bike race such as the Tour de France on TV, you might have thought to yourself: “Just how good are the professionals?” And if you do a bit of cycling yourself, you might be inclined to wonder: “How much better are they than me?”

Using data from the 2013 Tour Down Under – held in late January in and around Adelaide – I was able to compare the efforts of amateur recreational cyclists against those of professionals in the race.

On Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under more than 6,500 recreational cyclists took part in the Bupa Challenge Tour, riding along the same route as the professionals just a few hours before the race.

Of the 6,500 cyclists that took part in the recreational event, 950 recorded their ride using the popular “social fitness” website Strava. I was then able to analyse this wealth of shared data to compare the efforts of amateur cyclists with the efforts of professional rider Serge Pauwels from the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team.

Serge Pauwels from the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team. Petit Brun

Serge Pauwels from the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team. Petit Brun

While German sprinter Andre Greipel won that Tour Down Under stage at the head of the peloton, Pauwels finished 42nd as part of the same group. This meant that Pauwels’s time was considered equal to that of Greipel’s.

As Pauwels remained in the peloton all day, riding conservatively, his effort represents the minimum needed to ride with the pros on a fast stage that averaged 41.5km/h.

So how did the non-pro riders perform over the same course?

While there could be a difference in the effort put in by pros and amateurs – for a start, the pros were racing and the public were not – many riders seem to have been giving it their best, particularly the faster amateurs.

As Kalvin Bartlett, the 10th fastest amateur rider on the day (from those on Strava) said: “… some people need to distinguish between a charity ride and a race”.

The amateur riders also had to be motivated enough to turn up and choose the full 127km of Stage 4 rather than one of the shorter alternatives available on the day. This would suggest that the riders in question are all reasonably strong.

(If you didn’t ride in the Bupa Challenge you can get a rough idea of how you would have gone by comparing your average speed over a long ride to that of the amateur field below. You’d have to be able to average a punishing 26km/h including rest stops to make the top half of the amateur field in the Bupa Challenge Tour.)

4bvdjds9-1359956237

The image above shows that Pauwels and the rest of the riders in the pro peloton were 4.4 standard deviations faster than the mean of everyone else and a full 5.7km/h faster than the quickest amateur.

How did they do it?

Well the obvious answer would be “they pedalled harder” but as it turns out, for the best of the amateurs, this isn’t the case.

A cyclist generates power to propel the bike forward, and this is measured by multiplying the force they exert on the pedals by how fast the pedals are rotating. Power is lost to air drag, rolling resistance and fighting gravity as they climb hills.

The heavier the cyclist, the higher the power they should be able to produce. As such, Serge Pauwels’s weight of 64kg makes his average of 223W more impressive than if he’d been, say, 80kg.

A cyclist can produce high power for short intervals but this will leave them tired. Each cyclist has a maximum amount of power they can produce over any particular interval. These best efforts can be shown in a curve compiled from their highest power over multiple efforts.

The image below compares Pauwels’s previously established best-effort power curve (dashed blue line) against his power curve for stage 4 (dashed red line) and the power curves of the four fastest amateurs (as per Strava) that had power meters during the Bupa Challenge Tour.

Despite going much faster Serge Pauwels produced less power than some other riders. Rider speeds are speed while moving and speed including rest stops. Ken Taylor

Despite going much faster Serge Pauwels produced less power than some other riders. Rider speeds are speed while moving and speed including rest stops. Ken Taylor

This image shows that Pauwels rode at his long-distance best but fairly conservatively – that is, he was well below his best over shorter intervals.

This conservative riding would have helped Pauwels stay fresh enough to achieve strong results in later stages of the six-stage tour. In turn, these strong results allowed him to finish the Tour Down Under in 20th place overall.

Three of the amateurs produced a higher average power than Pauwels, including one who recorded 243W – nearly 10% more than Pauwels’s 223W.

And one of the amateurs, “Spartacus Flying Scotsman”, was able to ride more conservatively (i.e producing less power in short intervals – see figure 3 above) while producing more power overall.

But Pauwels was more efficient, riding at a higher average speed from a lower average power than all of the amateurs.

Just how efficiently Pauwels rode can be seen by plotting speed against power, for all riders who uploaded power meter data to Strava (as seen in figure 4 below). Only 28 of the 950 riders used power meters and of these four were identified as unreliable and excluded.

crsm7syj-1359954352

Power vs speed for the 2013 Bupa Challenge, Tour Down Under Stage 4. Unexpectedly, the relationship is approximately linear for all but the pros despite air drag being proportional to velocity cubed. Ken Taylor

The power required to overcome air drag is proportional to a rider’s velocity cubed (i.e. the drag increases dramatically the faster you go). And yet the power vs speed relationship for the amateurs is approximately linear.

This is unexpected, but because Pauwels is well below the trend, it emphasises just how efficiently he rode.

So, to keep up with the pros, the average Bupa Challenge rider needs to produce an additional 50W – an increase of a little more than a third – and ride much more efficiently to increase their speed by more than 50%.

And for the rest of us, matching the pros is an even more difficult task – most probably couldn’t ride 127km at any speed.

Ken Taylor has previously conducted cycling research funded through a CSIRO and AIS partnership. See http://www.csiro.au/en/Organisation-Structure/Divisions/Materials-Science–Engineering/CSIRO-and-AIS.aspx .

He works for CSIRO.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.


CSIRO resolves to strengthen values and culture

By Chief Executive, Dr Megan Clark

We only really know what we stand for when faced with a challenge and we have to make a choice whether to take the path that reflects our values or not. I have always held health and safety and creating a work place built on trust and respect where people can flourish as key values.

I share a deep concern with the community about any report that staff in CSIRO may have been bullied, harassed or mistreated and I have paused to reflect on how a trusted scientific organisation, held in high esteem globally could be standing accused by some of its former staff of not being able to deal effectively with their issues.

I want to be clear that I, my management team and the Board are committed to providing a positive working environment where all forms of inappropriate behaviour – including discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation or threats– are absolutely not tolerated. It does not fit with our values or our culture.  I know that stopping inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and the fear of it is a challenge. It involves both the complex interactions between people and the role the organisation takes to manage it at the case level and in systems and processes.

At CSIRO we aim to foster a working environment where people are safe, feel valued, are stimulated, encouraged and rewarded, and where they can reach their full potential. This environment is what I, with the CSIRO’s Board and management team, are committed to ensuring we provide for all of our people.

We have set very clear expectations through our values and Code of Conduct of what is appropriate behaviour and we know we will not be successful until everyone goes home safely with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Setting clear expectations and aspirations are not enough if we are to move to a future where our decisions and interactions are guided by our values and we take responsibility for our behaviours.  It also means understanding the impacts of inappropriate behaviour –including bullying and harassment, ensuring we all have the tools and skills to resolve issues as they arise in the workplace in a collaborative manner and learning from our past experiences.

The awareness of the impacts of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace – including bullying and harassment- has grown significantly over the past decade. An issue previously hidden from public view is now known as a significant contributor to workplace stress and one of the drivers of an increasing number of workplace relations claims across Australia.  The feelings of intimidation, anger and injustice that emerge can have long term impact on those affected and their families.  The key issues being raised by former staff include not having contributions to projects and publications adequately recognised, unfair dismissal, intimidation through performance management, unresolved disagreement on ownership of intellectual property, denying scientists “free speech” and failing to take timely and effective management action on issues that have been raised in the work place.

CSIRO treats any claims, from current or former employees, of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously. We work hard to ensure that the systems we have in place to prevent or deal with staff concerns are working properly. If they fail, we are committed to improvement.

So when Comcare found in its recent review of the operations of one of our Canberra Divisions that we needed to improve how we assess and manage the risks relating to psychological ill-health in managing allegations of misconduct we immediately set about addressing those issues.

Although Comcare found that we could make improvements in the way that we do things, they also reported that they had “found no evidence of system deficiencies or a culture within the CSIRO … that enabled or promoted bullying type behaviour”.  This is heartening, however we believe that just as we have matured as an organisation with our safety performance we can also improve in the area of staff welfare because one case of inappropriate behaviour is one case too many.  This means commitment to a multi-year strategy with clear benchmarks on which we can be assessed and held accountable. It also means learning from our experiences and building them into our future strategies.

While a number of issues raised by former staff have previously been the subject of independent review, I have, together with the Board, decided to appoint an eminent and experienced independent person to review claims by former employees, ensure our duty of care has been met to these staff, assess whether previous investigations were adequate and recommend where further action is required and what lessons we can learn to build into our future strategies.  The terms of reference of the review are in the process of being finalised with input from the independent investigator and I will be providing further details about this once they have been finalised.

My lead indicator for success is that more people speak up, I want to hear about concerns and I want our managers to also hear about them. We need to ensure we do this in a way where all those involved are supported and not harmed.  I believe the independent review will help us learn and manage this challenge effectively.

At the core of our culture and values is the integrity of our excellent science. This embraces the highly demanding scientific rigour of ensuring the integrity of data and being clear of the uncertainties, of challenging peers and leaders and in turn accepting the critical review of peers from around the world. That’s a culture we have and in which we take pride.

Our recent staff survey showed 85 per cent of our staff support, and are engaged with CSIRO’s mission to use our science to deliver profound impact to Australia and humanity. This is one of the highest levels of engagement for an Australian organisation.

The ability to transform the lives of Australians is one of the reasons why our people are passionate about who we are and what we do. It’s why Australians trust and respect us. It’s why we are committed to ensuring that CSIRO remains a safe, healthy, productive and rewarding place to work.


Friday Fish Time

Woodward’s Moray, Gymnothorax woodwardi

Woodward’s Moray Eel. Gymnothorax woodwardi.

OK, this is not the most pleasant FFT picture we have had but it is interesting.

One of our regular FFT readers (and the winner of the inagural FFT identifcation quiz) Phillip Clark from Focus Fisheries in WA sent the pictures in. Phillip is a member of a fishing club and another member found the specimen on the flats of the Swan River in Perth.

Apparently there was a bit of debate among other members of the club as to what exactly had been found. There was an even split between those who thought it was an eel and those who had no idea. Finding the fish in the Swan River threw a few off them of track.

While we are not encouraging all and sundry to send in their pictures of  fish they have found, I thought this one was strange enough to send on to our fish ID experts in Hobart.

John Pogonoski who works in fish taxonomy at CSIRO came up with the answer – “It’s Woodward’s Moray Eel, Gymnothorax woodwardi –  described by McCulloch in 1912 – a common species in south-western WA (from about Cape Leeuwin north to about Shark Bay, inshore to at least 250m). I saw plenty of preserved specimens in the Western Australian Museum last year, so must be reasonably common.”

There you have it.

The head of the eel which has had some of the flesh eaten away to expose the upper jaw. The picture right shows the anatomy of the eel's jaw.

The head of the eel which has had some of the flesh eaten away to expose the upper jaw. The picture below shows the anatomy of the eel’s jaw.

Pharyngeal_jaws_of_moray_eels.svg


Greenland ice cores provide vision of the future

Ice cores drilled in the Greenland ice sheet, recounting the history of the last great warming period more than 120,000 years ago, are giving scientists their clearest insight to a world that was warmer than today.

In a paper published today in the journal Nature, scientists have used a 2540 metre long Greenland ice core to reach back to the Eemian period 115-130 thousand years ago and reconstruct the Greenland temperature and ice sheet extent back through the last interglacial. This period is likely to be comparable in several ways to climatic conditions in the future, especially the mean global surface temperature, but without anthropogenic or human influence on the atmospheric composition.

Greenland

The Eemian period is referred to as the last interglacial, when warm temperatures continued for several thousand years due mainly to the earth’s orbit allowing more energy to be received from the sun. The world today is considered to be in an interglacial period and that has lasted 11,000 years, and called the Holocene.

“The ice is an archive of past climate and analysis of the core is giving us pointers to the future when the world is likely to be warmer,” said CSIRO’s Dr Mauro Rubino, the Australian scientist working with the North Greenland Eemian ice core research project.

Dr Rubino said the Greenland ice sheet is presently losing mass more quickly than the Antarctic ice sheet. Of particular interest is the extent of the Greenland continental ice sheet at the time of the last interglacial and its contribution to global sea level.

Deciphering the ice core archive proved especially difficult for ice layers formed during the last interglacial because, being close to bedrock, the pressure and friction due to ice movement impacted and re-arranged the ice layering. These deep layers were “re-assembled” in their original formation using careful analysis, particularly of concentrations of trace gases that tie the dating to the more reliable Antarctic ice core records.

DSC_2216

Dr Mauro Rubino: A 2,540 metre long Greenland ice core is reconstructing the Greenland temperature and ice sheet extent back through the last interglacial.

Using dating techniques and analysing the water stable isotopes, the scientists estimated the warmest Greenland surface temperatures during the interglacial period about 130,000 years ago were 8±4oC degrees warmer than the average of the past 1000 years.

At the same time, the thickness of the Greenland ice sheet decreased by 400±250 metres.

“The findings show a modest response of the Greenland ice sheet to the significant warming in the early Eemian and lead to the deduction that Antarctica must have contributed significantly to the six metre higher Eemian sea levels,”  Dr Rubino said.

DSC_2232

The first complete ice core record of the Eemian will help science better understand the current and future warming of Earth that virtually all climate scientists attribute to increases in human-produced greenhouse gases.

Additionally, ice core data at the drilling site reveal frequent melt of the ice sheet surface during the Eemian period.

“During the exceptional heat over Greenland in July 2012 melt layers formed at the site. With additional warming, surface melt might become more common in the future,” the authors said.

The paper is the culmination of several years work by organisations across more than 14 nations.

Dr Rubino said the research results provide new benchmarks for climate and ice sheet scenarios used by scientists in projecting future climate influences.

Media: Craig Macaulay. Ph: +61  3 6232 5219 E: craig.macaulay@csiro.au


Taking the temperature of the Universe

Astronomers using a CSIRO radio telescope have taken the Universe’s temperature, and have found that it has cooled down just the way the Big Bang theory predicts.

Using the CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, NSW, an international team from Sweden, France, Germany and Australia has measured how warm the Universe was when it was half its current age.

temperature picture

Radio waves from a distant quasar pass through another galaxy on their way to Earth. Changes in the radio waves indicate the temperature of the gas. (Image: Onsala Space Observatory)

“This is the most precise measurement ever made of how the Universe has cooled down during its 13.77 billion year history,” said Dr Robert Braun, Chief Scientist at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science.

Because light takes time to travel, when we look out into space we see the Universe as it was in the past — as it was when light left the galaxies we are looking at. So to look back half-way into the Universe’s history, we need to look half-way across the Universe.

How can we measure a temperature at such a great distance?

The astronomers studied gas in an unnamed galaxy 7.2 billion light-years away [a redshift of 0.89].

The only thing keeping this gas warm is the cosmic background radiation — the glow left over from the Big Bang.

By chance, there is another powerful galaxy, a quasar (called PKS 1830-211), lying behind the unnamed galaxy.

Radio waves from this quasar come through the gas of the foreground galaxy. As they do so, the gas molecules absorb some of the energy of the radio waves. This leaves a distinctive “fingerprint” on the radio waves.

From this “fingerprint” the astronomers calculated the gas’s temperature. They found it to be 5.08 Kelvin (-268.07 degrees Celsius): extremely cold, but still warmer than today’s Universe, which is at 2.73 Kelvin (-270.42 degrees Celsius).

CSIRO's Australia Telescope Compact Array. (Photo: David Smyth)

CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array. (Photo: David Smyth)

According to the Big Bang theory, the temperature of the cosmic background radiation drops smoothly as the Universe expands. “That’s just what we see in our measurements. The Universe of a few billion years ago was a few degrees warmer than it is now, exactly as the Big Bang Theory predicts,” said research team leader Dr Sebastien Muller of Onsala Space Observatory at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Publication
“A precise and accurate determination of the cosmic microwave background temperature at z=0.89″, by S. Muller et al. Accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics; online at http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.5456

MEDIA: Helen Sim Ph: +61 2 9372 4251 E: helen.sim@csiro.au


Giving turtles ghost of a chance against drifting killers

By Andrea Wild

No, the problem is not ghost ships on the high seas, but ghostnets. Lost and abandoned fishing gear drifts around the world’s oceans and can continue fishing for decades.

With around 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear lost or discarded each year, ghostnets are a huge problem worldwide. Originating mainly from fisheries and Asia and Australia, ghostnets in Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria are among the highest concentration in the world and are threatening our marine turtles. During a recent cleanup of ghostnets on beaches in the Gulf, 80 per cent of animals found trapped in nets were marine turtles, including Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Green and Flatback turtles.

During a beach cleanup, an Indigenous ranger finds a ghostnet with a turtle entangled.Picture: GhostNets Australia.

During a beach cleanup, an Indigenous ranger finds a ghostnet with a turtle entangled.
Picture: GhostNets Australia.

CSIRO, working with GhostNets Australia and Indigenous rangers, is identifying hotspots in the Gulf where ghostnets and turtles meet.

Using a model of ocean currents and data collected by Indigenous rangers on the number of ghostnets found during beach cleanups, the scientists simulated the likely paths ghostnets take to get to their landing spots on beaches in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Combining this with information about the occurrence of turtles in the area, they found that entanglement risk for turtles is concentrated in an area along the eastern margin of the Gulf and in a wide section in the southwest extending up the west coast.

The research pinpoints where prevention and clean-ups can really make a difference to protecting our biodiversity.

Ghostnets, originating mainly from fisheries in Asia and Australia, are a particular problem in Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria, where they can reach densities of up to three tonnes/km, among the highest recorded worldwide.

“Our research goes beyond discovering where ghostnet fishing is taking place, to actually estimating its impact on biodiversity, in particular on threatened marine turtles,” Dr Denise Hardesty of CSIRO said.

“Using a model of ocean currents and data collected by Indigenous rangers on the number of ghostnets found during beach cleanups, we simulated the likely paths ghostnets take to get to their landing spots on beaches in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

“Combining this with information about the occurrence of turtles in the area, we found that entanglement risk for turtles is concentrated in an area along the eastern margin of the Gulf and in a wide section in the southwest extending up the west coast.

“Most ghostnets enter the Gulf from the northwest and move clockwise along its shore. This means we can help protect biodiversity in the region by intercepting nets as they enter the Gulf, before they reach the high density turtle areas along south and east coastlines.”

Ghostnets are a global problem, capturing seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles worldwide. Lost or abandoned fishing gear makes up only 20 per cent of marine debris but has a disproportionate effect because it is designed to capture wildlife.

“Our research shows that combining models of marine debris with species occurrence data could identify global hot spots for impact, helping pinpoint where prevention and clean-ups could really make a difference to biodiversity,” Dr Hardesty said.

This research used information on ocean currents generated by the BLUElink Ocean Data Assimilation System to simulate the paths of ghostnets.

Media: Andrea Wild. Ph: +61 2 6246 4087 Mb: 0415 199 434 E: andrea.wild@csiro.au


Originally posted on Solar @ CSIRO:

In today’s Newcastle Herald newspaper our blogger Dr Greg Wilson appeared in an article about our cool next generation solar cells made from dyes. We’ve previously shown you how they are made. Greg’s also holding one in the picture below.

We are developing dye-sensitised solar cells (DSC) that can be integrated into the walls, windows and roof top materials of buildings. They need to cover a much larger area to generate the same amount of electricity as the common silicon photovoltaic panel. We can make our DSC pretty colours; one day bill boards and signs might also be made of them (how cool!).

CSIRO EnCntr 202_Greg Wilson_dye cells landscape2 Solar@CSIRO blogger, Greg Wilson holding a dye-sensitised solar cell at the CSIRO Energy Centre in Newcastle. In the background you can see an entire wall made up of the cells. This installation was the largest of its kind back in 2003 when the Centre was built, and…

View original 239 more words


Friday Fish Time

Sea Sweep (Scorpis aequipinnis) hooked by big game fisherboy on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Sea Sweep/Banded Sweep? hooked by big game fisherboy on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Leaning toward a Banded Sweep but not really sure. Anyway, sweeps are grey, often with a tinge of blue, green, or sometimes brown. They both like to get together in schools and are found from the southern coast of New South Wales, around the south of the country and north to the central coast of Western Australia.

The Sea Sweep can grow to about 61cm in length (the one above is just a bit shy of that….) while the Banded Sweep is a bit smaller.

They are found on rocky reefs in coastal waters. Young sweeps hang out in small schools inshore, and the larger adults school in small groups in open waters, often in turbulent areas on coastal reefs to 25m deep.


Geysers from the Galaxy’s heart

They’re big, powerful and fast. Top to bottom, they measure about half the Galaxy’s diameter. They contain as much energy as a million exploding stars. And they are roaring along at 1000 kilometres a second (yes, a second).

Revealed by our Parkes radio telescope (aka The Dish): they are giant geysers of charged particles shooting out from the centre of our Galaxy.

The finding is reported in today’s issue of Nature.

The “geysers” (in blue) shooting out of the Milky Way. (Optical image – A. Mellinger, U.Central Michigan; radio image – E. Carretti, CSIRO; radio data – S-PASS team; composition – E. Bresser, CSIRO)

The “geysers” (in blue) shooting out of the Milky Way.
Optical image – A. Mellinger, Central Michigan Uni.; radio image – E. Carretti, CSIRO; radio data – S-PASS team; composition – E. Bressert, CSIRO.

“These outflows contain an extraordinary amount of energy — about a million times the energy of an exploding star,” said the research team’s leader, CSIRO’s Dr Ettore Carretti.

But the outflows pose no danger to Earth or the Solar System.

The speed of the outflow is supersonic, about 1000 kilometres a second. “That’s fast, even for astronomers,” Dr Carretti said.

“They are not coming in our direction, but go up and down from the Galactic Plane. We are 30,000 light-years away from the Galactic Centre, in the Plane. They are no danger to us.”

From top to bottom the outflows extend 50,000 light-years [five hundred thousand million million kilometres] out of the Galactic Plane.

That’s equal to half the diameter of our Galaxy (which is 100,000 light-years — a million million million kilometres — across).

Seen from Earth, the outflows stretch about two-thirds across the sky from horizon to horizon.

So how could we have missed them before?

A couple of reasons. The particles are glowing with radio waves, rather than visible light, so seeing the geysers depends on having a telescope tuned to the right frequency (which happens to be 2.3 GHz). And the Galactic Centre is a messy, confusing place where a lot is going on.

VIDEO: Ettore Carretti talks about how the telescope makes maps of the sky.

Our Galaxy has a black hole at its centre, but it’s not that which is powering the geysers. Instead it’s star-power: “winds” from young stars, and massive stars exploding.

About half of all the star-formation that goes on in our Galaxy happens in and near the Galactic Centre. That’s a lot of stars, and a lot of energy.

VIDEO: The Parkes telescope observing as night falls and stars come out and the Milky Way appears overhead.  Credit: Alex Cherney / terrastro.com

MEDIA: Helen Sim. Mb: 0419 635 905. E: helen.sim@csiro.au


Friday Fish Time

There is debate if the Giant Lobster at Kingston In South Australia has the head of a female and the body of a male - or the other way around. Either way - a shining example of Australian Big and its..... you decide.

There is debate if the Giant Lobster at Kingston In South Australia has the head of a female and the body of a male – or the other way around.
Either way – a cracker example of Australian Big……

Southern RockLobster: I know its not a fish but it is getting close to Christmas and a lot of people will be eating one of these in between slinging insults across the lunch table. Who knows? Maybe some small, retained facts from this post can calm the situation before the flaming brandy is tossed toward Uncle Phil from Newcastle.

They are a species of spiny lobster found throughout coastal waters of southern Australia and New Zealand including the Chatham Islands.

They resemble lobsters (look HERE for difference), but lack the large characteristic pincers on the first pair of walking legs.  They are carnivorous and like to feed during the night. They live in and around reefs at depths ranging from 5m to 200m.

Adults are sexually mature at between seven and 11 years. Eggs develop on females, which carry between 100,000 and 500,000 eggs which are fertilised and held below the tail on hairs on the female’s abdomen. The eggs develop there for up to five months. The eggs then metamorphose into larva which leave the female and are free swimming plankton which migrate towards the surface.

Not sure if there will be FFT next week – will see how I am going before heading off for small holiday. Anyway, thanks for reading FFT and have a good Christmas.

Common name: Southern Rocklobster. Scientific name: Jasus edwardsii. Family: Palinuridae.

Common name: Southern Rocklobster. Scientific name: Jasus edwardsii. Family: Palinuridae.


Ocean science robot revolution hits symbolic millionth milestone

An innovative global observing system based on drifting sensors cycling from the surface to the ocean mid-depths is being celebrated by scientists today after reaching a major milestone – one million incredibly valuable ocean observations.

From 10 drifting robotic sensors deployed by Australia in the Indian Ocean in late 1999, the international research program has been quietly building up a global array which is now enabling new insights into the ocean’s central influence on global climate and marine ecosystems.

Global locations for Argo robotic sensors – 4 December 2012.

Global locations for Argo robotic sensors – 4 December 2012.

The initial objective was to maintain a network of 3000 sensors, in ice-free open ocean areas, providing both real-time data and higher quality delayed mode data and analyses to underpin a new generation of ocean and climate services. The program is called Argo.

“We’re still about 50 years behind the space community and its mission to reach the moon,” says Argo co-Chair and CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship scientist, Dr Susan Wijffels.

“The world’s deep ocean environment is as hostile as that in space, but because it holds so many clues to our climate future exploring it with the Argo observing network is a real turning point for science.

“In its short life the Argo data set has become an essential mainstay of climate and ocean researchers complementing information from earth observing satellites and uniquely providing subsurface information giving new insights into changes in the earth’s hydrological warming rates and opening the possibility of longer term climate forecasting,” Dr Wijffels said.

Although the one millionth profile of the upper ocean, measured from the surface to a depth of two kilometres, was achieved in early November, oceanographers around the world are today celebrating this critical benchmark in ocean monitoring which delivers data to a scientist’s desk within 24 hours of sampling.

Celebrations included a series of high-level international presentations by senior scientists involving Dr Wijffels, her Argo co-Chair Prof Dean Roemmich from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, oceanographer Dr Josh Willis from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Dr Jim Cummings from the US Naval Research Laboratory.

The Argo array has risen to now number more than 3500 sensors, the largest there has ever been. The average lifetime of the floats has improved in the past decade greatly increasing the efficiency of the operation.

Presently 28 countries contribute to the annual A$25M cost of operating the program. The US is the largest provider of sensors to the network, with Australia, led by CSIRO with the Integrated Marine Observing System and the Bureau of Meteorology, maintaining more than 300 profilers for deployment mainly in the Indian and Southern Oceans, and Tasman Sea.

The 1.5 metre tall robotic sensors cycle vertically every 10 days, sampling temperature and salinity. At the surface, the sensors despatches its data via satellite to national centres across the globe, where analysts then check it, package it and send it to synchronous assembly centres in France and the US.  The sensor’s ascent and descent is regulated by a hydraulic pump, powered with lithium batteries. Their life expectancy is between 4-9 years, averaging more than 200 profiles per sensor as they drift with the currents and eddies.

Data are collected at the impressive rate of one profile approximately every four minutes, (360 profiles per day or 11000 per month) and on 4 November 2012 Argo passed the symbolic milestone of collecting its one millionth profile. To put this achievement in context, since the start of deep sea oceanography in the late 19th century, ships have collected just over half a million temperature and salinity profiles to a depth of 1km and only 200000 to 2km.  At the present rate of data collection Argo will take only eight years to collect its next million profiles.

Dr Wijffels said almost 1200 scientific papers based on or incorporating Argo data have been generated since the start of the program. Prominent findings include:

  • Analysis of ocean salinity patterns that suggests a substantial (16 to 24%) intensification of the global water cycle will occur in a future 2° to 3° warmer world.
  • A more detailed view of the world’s largest ocean current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.
  • An insight into changing bodies of water in the Southern Ocean and the way in which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.
  • Isolating the effect of ocean warming and thermal expansion on the global energy and sea level budget.

Dr Wijffels said Argo data is now also being widely used in operational services for the community, including weather and climate prediction and ocean forecasting for environmental emergency response, shipping, defence, and safety at sea.

Media: Craig Macaulay Ph: +61 3 6232 5219 Mb: 04199 966 465 E: Craig.Macaulay@csiro.au


Friday Fish Time (Fishy Friday)

Common name: Old Wife. Scientific name: Enoplosus armatus. Family: Enoplosidae.

Common name: Old Wife. Scientific name: Enoplosus armatus. Family: Enoplosidae.

(Disclaimer – These are the words of others and I will not be held responsible for any offense.)

Old Wife: It has a deep and compressed body and concave forehead. The name – old wife – refers to the sound caused by it grinding its teeth when caught (or the Old Man comes home from the pub smelling of grog and cheap perfume).

It has the same features as other butterfly fish but the old wife is easily distinguished by its silver-and-black, vertical zebra-striped coloration, and by its two large dorsal fins. The dorsal fins have bony, knife-like spines. These have no obvious venom groove nor gland but the spines are widely considered to inflict a painful venom.

The fish grows up to 50 cm long and is found in the temperate waters around Australia.

It is one of the earliest fish described in Australian. In 1790, John White in his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales originally named it the long-spined chaetodon.

In 1836, closely related fossils were found in Europe. The well preserved fossils show the basic body plan and even the zebra pattern of colouring have not changed significantly over the past 50 million years.


Our changing beaches – scientists look for a break in the surf zone

A small team of oceanographers from CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship is using a suite of sensors, radar and video cameras, to monitor beach change at Secret Harbour.

The project is part of Australia’s ocean forecasting system, BLUElink, a joint initiative of CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Royal Australian Navy, that aims to provide forecasts of ocean currents and eddies, and surface and subsurface ocean properties.

“Ultimately, we are trying to build a capability to forecast changes in surf zone sand bars and gutters as sea, wind and wave conditions change,” says CSIRO’s Dr Graham Symonds.

A suite of sensors are monitoring coastal change at Secret Harbour, near Perth.

A suite of sensors are monitoring coastal change at Secret Harbour, near Perth.

Dr Symonds said Australia’s beaches and shorelines are continually changing with varying wave conditions and sea level.

He said regular beach goers would be familiar with changes in beach shape and shoreline position, for example erosion following storms, or rocky sections exposed during winter and covered with sand during summer. Long term residents may be aware of progressive changes in their local beach over periods of many years.

“In the face of changing sea level, the effects of potential inundation and coastal erosion will continue to be a focus of coastal councils and communities for the foreseeable future.

“Our intention is to harness the data we are acquiring here at Secret Harbour and construct a computer model capable of predicting beach shape and shoreline position under the full range of wave conditions.”

“There’s an immediate application for this research by the Royal Australian Navy with amphibious landings, however it can also be applied to improve beach safety, monitoring coastal erosion and understanding of how beaches might respond to climate change,” said Dr Symonds.

Secret Harbour beach was chosen because it is a relatively straight beach that is typical of some of the Perth metropolitan beaches. In an experiment running since May 2011, the CSIRO science team has constructed a beach tower, installed a radar system, in-water current meters and pressure sensors, and a video camera system, focussing on an area of beach about 1 km long and extending offshore about 500m.

“Waves break over shallow sandbars so video and radar observations of breaking waves provide a measure of the underlying bathymetry. Gaps in the surf zone are associated with deeper water where the waves don’t break and often indicate the location of rip currents.”

Dr Symonds said the laptop-based ocean modelling system for the surf-zone will provide wave and current forecasts several times a day for use by the Royal Australian Navy, and will also be relevant for rescue agencies, environmental protection and recreational marine activities such as fishing and surfing.

The project will help develop a core capacity in wave and near-shore dynamics comparable with that available in ocean and atmosphere dynamics in Australia.

MEDIA: Craig Macaulay. Ph: +61 3 6232 5219. Mb: 0419 996 6465. E: Craig.Macaulay@csiro.au


The widening gap between present emissions and the two-degree target

Carbon dioxide emission reductions required to limit global warming to 2°C are becoming a receding goal based on new figures reported today in the latest Global Carbon Project (GCP) calculations published today in the advanced online edition of Nature Climate Change.

“A shift to a 2°C pathway requires an immediate, large, and sustained global mitigation effort,” GCP executive-director and CSIRO co-author of the paper, Dr Pep Canadell said.

Pep Canadell

Pep Canadell

Global CO2 emissions have increased by 58 per cent since 1990, rising 3 per cent in 2011, and 2.6 per cent in 2012. The most recent figure is estimated from a 3.3 per cent growth in global gross domestic product and a 0.7 per cent improvement in the carbon intensity of the economy.

Dr Canadell said the latest carbon dioxide emissions continue to track at the high end of a range of emission scenarios, expanding the gap between current trends and the course of mitigation needed to keep global warming below 2°C.

He said on-going international climate negotiations need to recognise and act upon the growing gap between the current pathway of global greenhouse emissions and the likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The research, led by Dr Glen Peters from CICERO, Norway, compared recent carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and gas flaring with emission scenarios used to project climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“We need a sustained global CO2 mitigation rate of at least 3 per cent if global emissions are to peak before 2020 and follow an emission pathway that can keep the temperature increase below 2˚C,” Dr Peters said.

“Mitigation requires energy transition led by the largest emitters of China, the US, the European Union and India”.

He said that remaining below a 2°C rise above pre-industrial levels will require a commitment to technological, social and political innovations and an increasing need to rely on net negative emissions in future.

The Global Carbon Project, supported by CSIRO and the Australian Climate Change Science Program, generates annual emission summaries contributing to a process of informing policies and decisions on adaptation, mitigation, and their associated costs. The summaries are linked to long-term emission scenarios based on the degree of action taken to limit emissions.

Media: Craig Macaulay Ph: +61 3 6232 5219 Alt Ph: +61 4 1996 6465 E: Craig.Macaulay@csiro.au


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,031 other followers