By Dr Andrew Johnson
On February 11, 1861, Robert O’Hara Burke reached the Gulf of Carpentaria. He described in his diary the environment as “a considerable portion is rangy but it is well watered and richly grassed”.
More than 150 years after the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, many Australians consider north Australia to be a place of limitless potential. Throughout the 20th century, governments promoted development in the north. With a few notable exceptions, these have ended in failure.
More recently, state and federal governments of both political persuasions have had the foresight and courage to mandate scientific investigations to quantify the capacity of the north’s land and water assets, and to understand constraints to sustainable development presented by market opportunities, transport infrastructure and land tenure.
The passionate commentary demonstrates the diversity of views and the breadth of misunderstanding about the challenges of the tropics. Indeed, there are perhaps more urban myths about northern Australia than any other part of the nation. So let’s get some facts on the table.
Our scientists have identified the capacity to sustainably double or triple the north’s irrigation area using renewable groundwater resources. The potential is even greater if surface water is used. History has shown the challenges. Unlocking investment requires confidence about the scale of opportunities, and knowing the risks. A scarcity of detailed information about soil and water availability made it difficult to establish water storage options or agricultural productivity estimates or establish locations for irrigation. The cost of acquiring reliable soil, water and agricultural productivity estimates has often been an insurmountable barrier to private and public investors.
Underdeveloped transport infrastructure and long distances increase the cost of accessing inputs and selling outputs, as well as reducing the mass, quality and value of commodities.
Inconsistency in land and water regulations across jurisdictions and lack of clarity within them poses significant barriers to investment. Northern Australian tenure systems are complex. There are multiple, often overlapping tenure types for the same piece of land. Administrative arrangements vary across state boundaries. There are new and emergent tenures for water and carbon that are uncertain and are evolving.
Despite this, there are positive developments. In the Gulf country, the federal and Queensland governments, with our researchers, have demonstrated methods for rapidly and economically quantifying water flow and function, identifying water storage options, constructing soil maps of high precision and combining them to establish estimates of regional agricultural production potential. In the east Kimberley, the tireless efforts of government and the community are now driving profound positive change in the Ord. These examples provide a blue print for irrigated agriculture across the north.
The establishment of mosaic irrigation for the beef industry will enable increased productivity by overcoming seasonal feed shortages and intensifying production. This will allow producers to improve long-term viability. A year-round feed supply will also enable more efficient use of existing beef industry infrastructure.
Smarter transport logistics that deliver least-cost pathways for existing infrastructure – critical where rerouting is often required in response to flooding – is essential. A focus on logistics will prioritise investment in strategic infrastructure such as holding yards, rest stops, road configuration, the location of abattoirs and more efficient use of ports.
We also need to address property rights. Changes to land tenure regimes have the potential to transform indigenous communities from welfare dependency to economic participation as well as creating a more positive environment for investment. Changes to tenure arrangements are under way that aim to enable more diverse uses and clarify access and use rights. Future efforts must continue to focus on pastoral lands and in clarifying Indigenous interests in land and water.
Perhaps at no time since Federation has the nation’s interest in the north been so strong. A positive agenda will benefit all Australians, especially indigenous peoples. Whatever the actions taken, many will take time to implement; there are no easy fixes. They require patience, persistence, flexibility and a long-term commitment from all stakeholders.
By Carrie Bengston
Or more accurately, what on the sea floor is rugosity? If you thought rugosity might have something to do with rugs, you’d be close. It’s the ‘bumpiness’ of a surface. Measuring and mapping the rugosity of the sea floor is one of the topics at a video and acoustics data workshop in Hobart this week (11-12 June).
Over two days, scientists from CSIRO, government agencies and universities will discuss how to handle vast streams of acoustic and video data to better manage fisheries and monitor the environment. The workshop will bring together some of Australia’s leading scientists in the cutting edge fields of multibeam sonar data acquisition and analysis, remote video data acquisition and automated recognition.
It’s a sad fact that we know more about the moon’s surface than we do about the surface of the sea floor off our own coast. The sea floor has vast amounts of canyons and ridges that are biodiversity hotspots waiting to be uncovered. And while new acoustic and video technologies are providing vast amounts of data, the challenge is how to analyse and interpret it.
Multibeam Sonar Systems (MBSS) are new tools that use sound waves to measure and map surfaces. They can map the canyons and ridges on the sea floor using acoustic gear mounted to the bottom of a boat. Sonar systems work much like medical ultrasounds which detect the shape of a growing foetus. And of course, in nature, bats use reflected sound waves to detect 3D surfaces in dark caves.
Both multibeam sonar and remote video are relatively new ways of gathering information on marine habitats and communities that are too deep to monitor by divers. They present huge opportunities to better understand the changes in our marine environment, but at the same time they present new challenges in analysing and interpreting the data.
The aim is to highlight these challenges and identify potential solutions, and to apply solutions developed in other areas (such as facial recognition software) into the environmental domain.
So, while the AV guys at the workshop are making sure the lapel mic works and the projector beams the right images, our data gurus will be focused on tackling the challenges of audio and video data from the ocean depths.
In 2000, Stephen Hawking dubbed the 21st century the ‘century of complexity’. UK urban planning expert Prof Michael Batty agrees and argues that as our cities become more complex and interconnected we’ll need to find new ways of making sense of them.
Prof Batty, from University College London, is in Melbourne this week to take part in an international forum ‘Sustainability and the City’. He will be presenting some of the most important developments in urban systems complexity studies and previewing key topics in his upcoming book, The New Science of Cities.
“With the world urbanising faster than ever before, more of what we do will take place in cities,” says Prof Batty.
“As cities become more complex we urgently need new ways of thinking to make sense of how cities are merging and interconnecting globally.”
Organised by CSIRO, with support from the University of Melbourne and the City of Melbourne, the ‘Sustainability and the City’ symposium will examine the latest science developments in urban research and explore the challenges and opportunities of a sustainable urban future.
Those taking part in the conversation include CSIRO science leader Dr Greg Foliente, Prof Peter Newman of the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute and Prof Bob Stimson of the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network.
Prof Newman, who is widely respected for his impact in both academia and practice, will present new ideas based on the ‘theory of urban fabrics’, which underpins the science and practice of planning cities.
Melbourne residents have a rare opportunity to hear and interact with this international panel of urban sustainability experts at the public forum on 12 June, Melbourne Town Hall from 3-7 pm.
More information about the symposium
Chris Johnson – Communication Manager
CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship
Mobile: +61 437 226 011
This week we headed down to CeBIT, one of the world’s biggest IT trade shows. Here are some highlights from the titanic tech-fest:
With the recent spout of online hacks, cyber security was a hot topic of discussion. The experts gave us a friendly reminder to be careful what we share online.
DIY 3D printing
We got a glimpse of the latest range of DIY 3D printers – the ultimate birthday present for any tech lover.
Take a load off
Need to relax? There were plenty of super sturdy cardboard chairs to sit on, and you could even grab a free massage.
It’s getting cloudy
It was all about cloud computing this year, with Minister Stephen Conroy launching the National Cloud Computing Strategy. The popular slogan going around was ‘say no to software’.
Harping on about Harper
Digital campaign guru Harper Reed made a special appearance, giving a captivating talk on his role as Chief Technology Officer for President Obama in 2012.
With so many stylish tech-heads roaming around, it almost felt like we were at Sydney Fashion Week. The top trends in tech fashion this season included kilts, wet-suits, German beer maid outfits and kangaroo costumes.
Food, glorious food
What good would a trade show be without free food! But forget lollies in bowls, we were spoiled with a popcorn machine and frozen slushies.
Hugs with bots
And finally, robot love was definitely in the air. Everyone was lining up to give our newly named museum robot a cuddle – including our own members of parliament. The University of Western Sydney also bought along their cute bots, who busted some killer moves.
Head to our website for more information on our stand at CeBIT.
By Carrie Bengston
For most of us, maps help us get from A to B. Our GPS finds the shortest route to a friend’s house. A state map shows the highway winding up the coast to our camping spot. The city guide shows our conference venue in the CBD.
But during disasters, like the Tasmanian bushfires last summer and the Queensland floods before that, maps have a whole different purpose. They show which towns are under threat or which roads might be used to bring in emergency supplies or which shopping centres might be too damaged to open.
When a natural disaster strikes, people in particular locations need help quickly. Once the immediate threat has passed, those people need assistance. The quicker this can be provided, the quicker people can get back on their feet and rebuild their communities. Luckily, the Department of Human Services (DHS) provides disaster recovery assistance during the floods, droughts, fires, cyclones and other natural disasters we face in Australia. Map-based information is critical to that response. That’s where ERIC comes in.
ERIC is a web based tool that we’ve developed in partnership with Human Services that generates emergency situation reports for the Department. It brings together information from a range of federal and state government agencies into one easy-to-use interface. Information such as weather warnings and fire details along with population statistics are overlaid on a zoomable web based map. Layer upon layer of information is instantly at hand to assist social services managers in making service delivery decisions.
ERIC, the Emergency Response Intelligence Capability, streamlines the information gathering and integration process from hours down to minutes. By automating some of these manual tasks, the Department’s staff can ensure that resources are directed to areas where they’re the most required.
Robert Power, project leader and member of the Human Services Delivery Research Alliance, says ERIC makes use of new web based technologies and has allowed a step-change in the way the Department deals with emergencies. It improves emergency managers’ productivity and efficiency, directing resources where required.
“I’ve been impressed at how combining information and using some of the latest spatial technologies really adds value when responding to emergencies”, he said.
“It’s great to see how useful ERIC is. The whole is so much bigger than the sum of the parts.”
This week, we’re displaying a prototype of ERIC as part of our display at CeBIT in Sydney. The model has been fine tuned by Human Services who’ve trialed it in a number of recent disasters. Our researchers and experts from the Department will be on hand to talk about it. So, using a good map, make a beeline to Darling Harbour if you’re in the area. And, if you can’t make it, stay at home and try ERIC from your desk.
Media: Dan Chamberlain. P: +61 2 9372 4491. M: 0477 708 849. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sydney’s annual CeBIT conference – it’s kind of like Oscars week for the Australian technology industry. Despite the fact the Exhibition Centre may not seem as enchanting as a Hollywood red carpet or that the showroom has a lot more shiny bits and bytes than glitz and glamour, CeBIT offers us an exciting insight into the most cutting edge technologies and how they may soon impact our lives.
The most significant thing about the future of technology is that it will all soon become invisible. If you consider that your car has at least 50 processors in it, the average person would be hard pressed to think of what a dozen of them actually do. We don’t buy a car looking for an “Intel inside” sticker, we choose cars based on price and performance, function and fashion. With the rollout of next generation broadband networks, this will soon apply to our homes of the future, which will include processors connecting every item and every part of the house. They will be invisible and transform the way we live and what we do in our homes. Information will be shared across all the appliances and devices, changing the way we work, communicate to friends and family, access entertainment and will also enable better healthcare in the home.
Tech me to the clouds above
The idea of cloud services has been with us for a while, and now the power of these services is becoming more apparent. The heady combination of ever increasing data rates and ever more powerful computing brings us to an exciting point. We can now download rich media faster than we can consume it. We can now source information (even high quality video) from the Internet faster than we can source it from our own PC. Combining this with lightening fast online search tools means that now, whenever we want content, we get it from the cloud. There is no need and no point to store it anymore. The clouds are rolling in!
Big Data gets even bigger
There are 1.4bn cows in the world. If every one of these were tagged, this would generate about 35 petabytes of data per year (25kb per cow per day). Extend this to dozens of environmental sensors for each acre of crops, and sensors measuring the health of the environment and the “Internet of Things” starts to emerge as a source of some very big data sets. Once opened up and made accessible, we can change what we know about the world around us and when we know it. Take a look at the Sense-T programme in Tasmania to see just one example of what this could look like.
Can’t make this year’s conference? Don’t worry, we will be tweeting about all of the new gadgets and gizmos live from @CSIROEvents using the #CeBITAUS hash tag.
Click here to find out more information on the new technologies we will be showcasing at the conference.
Media: Dan Chamberlain. P: +61 2 9372 4491. M: 0477 708 849. Email: email@example.com
By Lidija Bosnjak
Galileo did it. So did Da Vinci. Darwin too. It’s science, right? Nope. It’s art. More specifically, art as a tool to communicate science. For centuries, scientists have used diagrams and illustrations to explain their inventions or the intricacy of natural objects.
Today, scientists wanting to communicate about their work can harness the power of technology. They can bring together stunning imagery and gripping narrative, combined with a killer soundtrack. State-of-the-art computer animations, the stuff of Hollywood movies, are now being used to help scientists connect with a wider audience.
To show how, we’re hosting a public event at the VIVID Ideas program (part of VIVID Sydney 2013) on May 30. The evening event at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art is called Connect with Science, and will feature two world-renowned biomedical animators, Graham Johnson (UCSF, USA) and Drew Berry (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne), whose work has received international recognition including a prestigious BAFTA Award (the UK Oscars). Check out one of Drew’s impressive videos below:
Connect with Science is co-organised by VIZBI+, a new project about visualising the future of biomedicine that’s funded by the Federal Government’s Inspiring Australia initiative. The project is training computer animators to bring biological and medical process to life in a way that’s true to the science. It involves the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, and our researchers at CSIRO.
VIZBI+ Project Leader, Sean O’Donoghue is MC and co-organiser of the event which, he says, aims to bring together scientists and the creative community.
“Many biological experiments are now so complicated that we need engagement with the creative community to help visualize, understand, and communicate the data and insights obtained. This event is a fantastic opportunity to do so”, he said.
Sean and his team are looking for more participants. So if your work bridges art and science or you’re a scientist with interest in art and creativity, you have an opportunity to showcase your work to like-minded individuals following the talks on 30 May.
Head to the VIZBI+ website for more details about the event, including how to participate. We’d love to connect with you.
As you can tell, it’s a pretty high-tech setup.
The YouTube video in the post said ‘satellite dish’, but the Compact Array is actually a radio telescope, for doing astronomy.
There’s not just one dish, there’s six of them. They usually work together, as one telescope. And they can be moved around into different arrangements on the ground, like this —
The dishes are so sensitive that a mobile phone signal coming from Pluto would be really strong for them. When the scientists at the observatory want to heat their dinners, they can’t use a microwave oven if the telescope is observing at certain frequencies — any microwaves leaking out of the oven swamp the signals from the cosmos.
The Compact Array turns 25 this year. Come and party with us!
Great technology, great engineers and great scientists have made the Compact Array one of the world’s leading radio telescopes.
And it hasn’t stood still. We’ve upgraded it over the years with new panels, new software, new receiving gear — everything. It’s now better than ever.
Astronomers have to fight to use it. For every six-month observing period, about 600 people (from almost 30 countries) apply to use the telescope. There isn’t enough time for all of them to have a go, so competition is fierce.
That’s despite the telescope working around the clock, seven days a week.
Here are some of the weird and wonderful bits of the Universe the Compact Array has looked at.
Today marks the start of National Heritage Week – a time to celebrate Australia’s unique and fascinating heritage. We are kicking off the festivities by presenting new 3D data from Fort Lytton, one of Queensland’s most significant cultural sites. This pentagonal fortress was built in 1881 to protect Brisbane from potential invasion up until the end of World War II.
Working with the researchers from University of Queensland’s School of Architecture, scientists from our Autonomous Systems Lab are using our Zebedee scanner to capture a 3D point cloud of the national park.
Zebedee is a mobile, handheld 3D laser scanner that swings back and forth on a spring to capture millions of detailed measurements. It gives researchers the ability to reliably map an environment in 3D simply by walking through it.
“This technology is ideal for cultural heritage mapping, which is usually very time consuming and labour intensive. It can often take a whole research team a number weeks or even months to map a site with the accuracy and detail of what we can produce in a few hours,” said Dr Jonathan Roberts, Director of CSIRO’s Autonomous Systems Lab.
“Zebedee has allowed us to capture a detailed record of several key cultural heritage sites ranging from those which are fragile and at risk of damage from natural disasters, to those which are remote and difficult to get to,” said Kelly Greenop, from the School of Architecture at The University of Queensland.
“We’re looking to use these maps in the future to create an archive of rich data about cultural heritage sites, which will allow us to analyse them without costly and time consuming hand measuring. From this, we have already analysed important aspects of Australian history. For example, the detailed map of Peel Island’s many small buildings allowed us to analyse architecture used to racially segregate people within the leper colony. The point cloud data clearly depicts how cramped and crowded the living quarters for Indigenous people were, when compared to the non-Indigenous people who lived in their own huts with scenic verandas,” she said.
Not only can this tool help us to understand the past, but it can also measure change over time.
“What’s exciting about this project is that we can overlay historic data with current data. This means we can view the site over a period of time, which is something that we’ve never been able to do before,” says Queensland historian Brian Rough.
This means that in the future anyone with internet access could soon discover the secrets of the Fort, along with many other fragile or remote environments, from the comfort of their own home.
Check out this video for more information on the project:
And why not join in the celebrations this week to commemorate the remarkable sites that helped shape our nation.
Media: Dan Chamberlain. P: +61 2 9372 4491. M: 0477 708 849. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘An eclipse adventure in Far North Queensland’, by Robert Hollow
I’ve just experienced a long-held desire to observe one of the most stunning events in astronomy, a total solar eclipse. Yesterday’s eclipse was only visible as a total eclipse in Far North Queensland, with most spectators lining the coast from Cairns to Port Douglas. Not for me the delights of the beach, though, as I was well inland, west of the divide on Maitland Downs cattle station.
What made the event even more special was that I was able to share it with a fantastic, keen bunch of school students from across the region taking part in “Under a Darkened Star” Student Astronomy Conference. Organised by the irrepressible David Platz, teacher and astronomy educator at Atherton State High School and supported by a cast of astronomers, amateur and professional from across Australia, the US and France, the four-day conference took us to the most likely spot along the centre line of the eclipse to have clear skies.
We arrived late Tuesday afternoon and within a short time had an impressive line of canopies erected for the students to sleep under whilst a dedicated team of parent volunteers had the barbecue underway. With dinner out the way, we spent a few hours exploring the dark night skies with a range of telescopes. It was lovely change to be observing without the need to rug up against the cold or battle mosquitoes.
Up before 5am for a final setup a check of our telescopes and cameras, a bright Venus greeted us in the pre-dawn sky. As the sky lightened the anticipation grew. The Sun would already be in the early stages of the eclipse as it rose above the ridgeline opposite our viewing site. At last it was visible! Silhouetting the trees the top left edge of the Sun appeared eclipsed by the Moon.
As the Sun rose the Moon continued its trek across the face. Four sunspot groups added to the spectacle. The students were able to view the eclipse through a variety of telescopes and experimented photographing it with their cameras and smartphones held up to the eyepieces. A video camera connected to a projector allowed us to project a large image on a screen too.
With totality approaching at 6.38am we could feel the temperature drop, the lighting change and the birds stopped singing. Things started happening quickly. The students assembled in a group with instructions to remove their eclipse glasses and view the total eclipse on a whistle blast.
There was a collective gasp on seeing the Sun’s corona and the total eclipse. A truly memorable moment. We had a fraction over two minutes of totality. Never enough, but we made the most of the time. Venus and stars came out and we could see red solar prominences through an unfiltered telescope.
I was able to get a few photos before having to replace the solar filter on my telescope and camera lens. Fortunately, my last photo captured the moment known as the “diamond ring”, a stunning effect.
With another whistle blast the glasses went back on, leaving us another hour to follow the passage of the Moon across the Sun.
By the time it ended it already felt like a much longer day, though in fact we were yet to have breakfast. Fortified with some bacon and eggs and a cup of tea the camp was soon packed up, telescopes disassembled and the students were all back on the buses. It was a sleepy but happy ride back to our base at Lake Tinaroo for the rest of the conference.
I’m no longer an eclipse novice but I think I may have caught the bug.
Robert Hollow would like to thank David Platz, Atherton State High School and the “Under the Darkened Star” Student Astronomy Conference for the opportunity to view the eclipse.
By Fiona Henderson
With summer just around the corner, many of us will be shaking out our beach towels, grabbing our buckets and spades, and heading to the beach. But sand and surf may not be all you find at the beach this summer.
Marine debris. It’s ugly, pervasive and threatening our ocean critters. Thank the stars for Dr Denise Hardesty.
Denise leads a team of scientists, school students and community members who have been working their way around the Australian coastline taking note of the garbage that has washed up on the beach.
From light globes to cigarette butts, you name it, they’ve probably found it. And now Denise is offering her time to talk about the project LIVE on the CSIRO events Ustream channel from 10am till 10.30am AEDST tomorrow, Friday 16th November.
“Marine debris is a major threat to Australia’s wildlife,” said Denise. “So that we can better manage this problem, we’re studying its sources and effects.”
One such effect is ocean birds carrying 7% of their body weight in plastic that is eaten off the ocean surface, as this ABC Catalyst video explains:
As a result of their research the team are hoping to achieve three things.
- Compile a list of which species are more or less likely to be affected by marine rubbish
- Estimate the effects that things like currents, local population, council and state waste management policies (e.g. rubbish bins and bottle refunds) and other factors have on the amount of rubbish in the ocean; and
- Identify a set of sites that can be used to monitor both marine rubbish and its impacts on wildlife over the long-term and at a low-cost.
“Our goal is to support people, both politicians and consumers, in making decisions about their behaviour and their investments that are based on scientific information,” said Denise.
Interested to learn more? Get your questions ready and join us on our Ustream channel tomorrow from 10am till 10.30am AEDST. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter with #marinedebris. All you need is a computer and internet connection, so no excuses.
Contact: Fiona Henderson
The national marine debris research is part of TeachWild, a national three-year research and education program developed by Earthwatch Australia together with CSIRO and Founding Partner Shell.
Australian horse owners and the equine industry receive an important boost in their fight against the deadly Hendra virus today, with the introduction of Equivac® HeV vaccine.
The vaccine, available under permit from registered veterinarians, is for use only in horses and aims to protect the Australian equine population against this killer disease. With a high mortality rate, Hendra virus has claimed the lives of more than 60 horses, including nine deaths in 2012 alone.
The threat of Hendra virus extends well beyond horses with four out of the seven people infected with the virus dying as a result of the infection. With no known cure, the Equivac HeV vaccine is set to become the most effective defence against this disease.
‘The vaccine is a major win for people working in veterinary practice, who are at great risk of Hendra infection,’ Dr Ben Gardiner, President, Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) said. ‘This vaccine significantly decreases the risk to horse owners, handlers and veterinarians.’
The Equivac HeV vaccine was developed in collaboration with four international organisations. In Australia, CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) worked in close partnership with Pfizer Animal Health. Additionally, US organisations, the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences (USU) and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (HJF) have also contributed to the development of this important vaccine.
Pfizer Animal Health was involved from early on in the process, contributing to formulation, industrialisation, production and distribution of the vaccine.
“Our involvement in the collaboration to develop Equivac HeV speaks to our determination to support the veterinary community and equine industry with effective vaccines to aid in the control of potentially life-threatening diseases such as the Hendra virus,” said Mike van Blommestein, Division Director, Pfizer Animal Health Australia.
Additionally, it has also managed the formal regulatory approval process including those safety and efficacy trials required by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for the granting of permit approval, as well as fulfilling the requirements of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
CSIRO has maintained a significant program of Hendra virus research since it was first identified and has contributed critical technical knowhow and advice on the virus to the partnership. CSIRO also provided the safe handling of Hendra virus and testing of the Equivac HeV at its high containment facility in Geelong, Victoria – the only laboratory in the world capable of such high-risk work.
Leading the specialist team from CSIRO, Dr Deborah Middleton,a veterinary pathologist, has a deep understanding of the need for an equine vaccine to aid in the prevention of the spread of Hendra virus.
‘As a veterinarian, I have seen firsthand how Hendra virus has created difficult working conditions for my colleagues and any Australian who works with horses,’ Dr Middleton said.
‘A horse vaccine is crucial to breaking the cycle of Hendra virus transmission from flying foxes to horses and then to people, as it can prevent both the horse developing the disease and passing it on.
‘For the first time, we have a Hendra virus specific tool that provides vets with a greater level of safety when they come into contact with sick horses.’
US partners, HJF and USU, also played an important role in the initial stages of the development of Equivac HeV vaccine. A research team at USU, led by Dr Christopher Broder, worked for more than a decade to find preventive treatments for both Hendra and Nipah virus infections.
Contributing to this work, HJF provided intellectual property advice and guidance to Dr Broder’s team to ensure the Hendra virus vaccine moved from the military to the civilian world.
Pfizer Animal Health is now working to supply Equivac HeV vaccine to those areas with the greatest need across Australia.
They will also oversee the training and accreditation of veterinarians working with the vaccine as well as the supply and maintenance of a national vaccine register for horses, requiring veterinarians to record details of a horse’s location and vaccination status.
While the introduction of a vaccine represents a significant step in countering the Hendra virus, it is still important that veterinarians and those who work with horses take precautions to safeguard against infection.
‘Although Equivac HeV will provide enormous reassurance for Australians in contact with horses, owners should still take caution around places flying foxes congregate. Anyone handling a sick horse should continue to take precautions,’ Dr Gardiner added. ‘Simple measures such as using personal protective equipment and clothing, quarantining sick horses from other animals and people and following good hygiene practices as a matter of routine, can greatly reduce the risk of the disease.’
CSIRO has maintained a significant program of research on the deadly Hendra virus, since the virus was first identified in 1994. This work is part of CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship’s commitment to protecting the health of our animals and people from biosecurity disease threats.
The Hendra virus horse vaccine project has received significant funding from State and Federal governments over the years. Most recently, in 2011, the Intergovernmental Hendra Virus Taskforce was formed and additional funding was provided through the National Hendra Virus Research Program to ensure critical timelines for vaccine development were maintained.
For further information, pre-recorded video footage or an interview, please contact:
Emma Wilkins, CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship
0409 031 658
Katherine Barbeler, Weber Shandwick:
0439 941 632
For more information about the Equivac HeV vaccine, visit health4horses
Read more news@CSIRO posts about the Hendra Virus
World-renowned scientists are meeting today at the Emerging Infectious Diseases Symposium (EIDS2012), in Geelong, Victoria, to help improve our ability to protect people and animals from increasing biosecurity threats, such as Hendra virus and dengue fever.
The Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID) is hosting the two-day Symposium, which is bringing together the critical areas of One Health – a combined approach to animal, human and environmental health.
According to Professor Martyn Jeggo, the director of CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), emerging infectious diseases are a serious concern.
“In Australia we have seen the damage a Hendra virus outbreak can cause, and globally we witnessed the emergence of SARS and how rapidly it spread from animals to people, and then around the world,” Professor Jeggo said.
“This meeting is providing us with an opportunity to share research into new diagnostic tools, drivers for emergence of disease and innovative control strategies that will allow us to not only respond to disease outbreaks more effectively but explore ways to predict where and when the next pandemic might strike.”
One of the meeting highlights includes updates on the progress of Hendra virus research projects that were funded by the Intergovernmental Hendra Virus Taskforce in 2011, under the National Hendra Virus Research Program. This will include work on bat ecology, surveillance tools, pathogenesis and Hendra virus vaccines.
“While much of this research is in the early stages, we need to maintain and continue adding to the number of tools that we have to help effectively manage the risks from this devastating virus,” Professor Jeggo said.
Conference host GCEID is an innovative research partnership between CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Barwon Health and Deakin University focused on identifying, monitoring and developing treatments for new infectious diseases as they spread between animals and people.
To further promote effective national collaboration and coordination of emerging infectious disease research, scientists from CSIRO’s Biosecurity Flagship, along with representatives from GCEID, the Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Sydney Emerging Infections and Biosecurity Institute will present their work.
The following experts are among the EIDS2012 key note speakers:
- W. Ian Lipkin – Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and Professor of Neurology and Pathology at College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, USA
- Ralph Tripp – Centre for Disease Intervention, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, USA
- Ashley St John – Emerging Infectious Diseases Program, Duke National University of Singapore, Singapore.
For further information please visit the official website: EIDS2012 (Emerging Infectious Diseases Symposium) [wiki site].
Media: Emma Wilkins. Ph: +61 3 5227 5123. Alt Ph: +61 2 409 031 658. E: email@example.com
By Lisa Harvey-Smith, CSIRO
Today, after several years of design and construction, CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is officially open.
The A$140m facility, built in the remote Murchison Shire of Western Australia, has a dual role as a cutting-edge radio telescope to study the universe and as a technology demonstrator for the planned A$2 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
ASKAP comprises 36 radio dishes, each with a diameter of 12 metres, making the telescope sensitive to faint radiation from the Milky Way and giving it the ability to detect very distant galaxies. It is also a remarkably complex telescope.
A new receiver technology called a phased array feed, developed in Australia by CSIRO, gives ASKAP an unrivalled capability to survey large volumes of the cosmos.
These special cameras increase the area of sky visible to the telescope at any one time by a factor of 30 over existing technology. This increases the scale of the resulting photographs of the radio sky from the size of the full moon to an area larger than the Southern Cross.
The addition of this wide-angle camera boosts the survey speed of ASKAP, allowing astronomers to carry out large “drift-net” surveys, to trawl the sky and gather information on hundreds of millions of galaxies.
By working in this way, the telescope is able to tackle big-ticket research areas such as cosmology and dark energy and gather enough statistical information to study the fascinating life stories of galaxies.
Researchers from around the world are already lining up to use the facility with ten ASKAP science survey teams, totalling more than 700 astronomers, ready and waiting.
These teams are working with CSIRO to design and maximise the scientific value of the surveys, some of which will take around two years to complete. Science verification has begun and some science projects are expected to be underway by the end of 2013.
CSIRO and the science teams are also tackling head-on the challenges involved in extracting – in real-time – scientific knowledge from an extremely large (72 Terabit per second) raw data stream. That’s enough to fill 120 million Blu-ray discs per day.
Dealing with such data volumes is something radio astronomers will have to get used to. In the era of the SKA we will find ourselves interacting less with real telescopes and more often mining online data stores and “virtual observatories”. Not only is the technology changing, the way in which we do our science is also being transformed.
One of the aims of the SKA Pathfinders (the others being the MeerKAT facility in South Africa and the Murchison Widefield Array) is to ensure the next generation of astronomers is ready for this new challenge.
The official opening of ASKAP and the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) marks the beginning of a new chapter for radio astronomy in Australia. Following the announcement earlier this year of a dual-site arrangement for the SKA, we now know the MRO will host two complementary astronomical instruments during Phase 1 of the project.
One will study low-frequency radio waves emanating from cold gas in the early universe and will build on the scientific and technical expertise gained from the Murchison Widefield Array project. The other will be an array of almost 100 dishes built on the capabilities of ASKAP. This instrument will be used to survey unprecedented volumes of our universe and delve even deeper into it’s secrets.
Over the coming decade the number and capabilities of telescopes available to radio astronomers will grow enormously. Along with the Murchison Widefield Array, ASKAP is leading the way in prototyping cutting-edge SKA technologies at the most radio-quiet observatory on Earth.
It truly is an exciting time to be a radio astronomer!
CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamatji people as the traditional owners of the land on which the observatory was built.
Lisa Harvey-Smith works for CSIRO and is project scientist for ASKAP.
Australia is home to over 600,000 species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Sadly, we also have one of the world’s worst mammal extinction rates. We need to chat about biodiversity.
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