Australia is on fire

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plodder
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by plodder » Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:04 pm

I'm pretty much always cynical about the wisdom of the ancients stuff. The modern world is almost entirely subject to extremely sophisticated land management that takes into account numerous stakeholders and tries to square multiple circles.

It's self-evident that this needs to adapt and change, because not only are we losing species and habitats hand-over-fist, but we also have severe problems with Nitrates, Phosphorus, soil loss, freshwater, ocean acidification, toxins such as endocrine dirsuptors, perhaps microplastics, and of course good old carbon. However, the ancients would not have a f.cking clue how to deal with that lot.

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bjn
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by bjn » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:33 am

A leaked report from Victoria shows that it's pretty devastating. The fires have mainly burnt through areas of high bio-diversity, significantly impacting a wide range of plants and animals. 31% of Victorian rainforests burnt, some species have had 100% of their range burnt, many other species have had a significant portion of their range burnt. Prospects for bounce back are grim. f.ck.

But at least they can keep mining coal!

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:53 am

Am I right in thinking that this will have a profound effect on the ecosystem, which has undergone a step change?

(Like the Clyde in Glasgow, which due to over-fishing is now stuffed only with billions of langouistines)

Shooting from the hip here and straying into futurology, but this suggests that rather than climate change causing a gradual and predictable decline (I think many people think we'll be able to muddle through) it will also feature a series of sudden, chaotic, dramatic and difficult to manage changes.

Our thinking on adaptation doesn't appear to be taking this into account and I'm honestly not quite sure where you'd start.

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bjn
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by bjn » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:49 pm

Pretty much. Thresholds have been crossed. Australia is going to continue to get drier and hotter, events like this will draw a line between pre climate change eco systems and post climate change systems. Gods know when the post climate change systems will settle into a new equilibrium given the end state of climate change isn’t known yet.

Fuckity f.cking f.ck. What future will our children and grand children have.

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Squeak » Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:49 am

That report is horrifying. To get anything approximating the rainforest of last year back into those areas, you'd need enough of the seeds to have survived and to keep fire out for a few hundred years, in a hotter, drier climate and with invasive, more flammable plants growing up in the immediate term. What do we reckon the chances are of that?

And we need the bits of rainforest that haven't burnt in this year's fires to not get burnt for a very long time, so that we have a comparison/source of seeds for revegetation efforts, if we wanted to try to restore them.

For the seeds, many of the species will survive a low intensity fire but probably not what came through in the last month.

More generally, abso-bl..dy-lutely. We don't really know what the tipping points are for shifting ocean circulation patterns, which drive regional climates to a huge extent. And before we get to such huge shifts, we're likely to get short-term disasters that have long-term ramifications like this one.

A few years ago, I collaborated on a paper that looked at a tiny plant on a subantarctic island that had kept growing continuously for thousands of years (probably tens of thousands) but then had a few years of altered rainfall. The whole system started falling over in the course of a single season as the Azorella dried out, taking everything with it. One too many summers without constant drizzle was enough to tip large areas of the island from vegetated fellfield into gravelly moonscape.

That particular collapse is on a tiny island with stuff-all impact for larger creatures and the broader world, but it feels like the sort of step changes we might expect, rather than just slightly longer/deeper versions of events that we recognise. :(

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Squeak » Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:57 am

To add to that, we had no inkling, even the summer before, that anything was amiss on the island.

I wonder how many other key* species around the world are looking happy right up to the moment that they collapse.

* I know that's an old term but I don't know a better one to describe a species that engineers the environment to create homes for other plants and animals.

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Squeak » Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:57 am

Doppelpost

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Sciolus
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Sciolus » Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:52 pm

The biogeosphere is a fiendishly complex set of positive and negative feedbacks, and the big worry about global warming has always been that it would flip from one metastable state to another. It has done this several times within human history, and it hasn't been that big a deal. The difference now is that human activity has made ecosystems globally far more brittle than they have ever been before. In the past, if the weather got warmer, species could mostly just move to higher latitudes or higher altitudes; but now, natural habitats are mostly confined to tiny nature reserves surrounded by hostile anthroposphere, and there is nowhere for them to move to. (A bit simplistic, but you get the gist.)

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by jimbob » Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:11 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:52 pm
The biogeosphere is a fiendishly complex set of positive and negative feedbacks, and the big worry about global warming has always been that it would flip from one metastable state to another. It has done this several times within human history, and it hasn't been that big a deal. The difference now is that human activity has made ecosystems globally far more brittle than they have ever been before. In the past, if the weather got warmer, species could mostly just move to higher latitudes or higher altitudes; but now, natural habitats are mostly confined to tiny nature reserves surrounded by hostile anthroposphere, and there is nowhere for them to move to. (A bit simplistic, but you get the gist.)
Except possibly the local collapse of civilisations, say in Central America during drought, or possibly the Indus Valley civilsation?
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Martin_B » Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:48 am

An update, partly because what with other news regarding the royal family, Trump, a cash-for-votes scandal, etc, the fires have even been pushed off the front pages down here. The 'torrential' rain (really not that much) and hail storms in Victoria and New South Wales dampened down the fire for a couple of days, but the land has dried out, and the heat is building again, even with the Dipole moving towards a neutral state.

Yesterday one of the C130 fire-fighting planes loaned from the US crashed while fighting fire in the Snowy Mountains, killing three; and another 6 fire-fighters (possibly volunteers) have been taken to hospital following their truck rolling over trying to get to a fire zone through rough terrain.

The latest reports are that up to 12 million hectares have been affected by the fires. To give you some perspective, England has a total area of ~13 million hectares.

Chris, Squeak and anyone else over East, stay safe this Invasion Day holiday.
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Chris Preston
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Chris Preston » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:20 am

We are in for some more heat next week.

Current official figures are 10.6 million hectares burnt
over 3,000 homes lost
32 deaths

This is the forecast for next Wednesday afternoon. Thursday and Friday will be the days to watch out for.

Image

Fortunately, it is mostly quiet here except for all those people in lycra gadding about.

This photo was in the paper today.

Image
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Squeak » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:04 am

Thanks Martin and Chris. I'd been thinking I ought to provide a round-up for this thread and hasn't quite managed it.

I suspect the newspapers had rather run out of things to say during the recent break in the weather. Round the clock coverage for weeks left them desperate to talk about anything else.

I guess those poor bastards in the C-130 have them something else to tally about while we wait for the weather conditions to ramp up again.

Tassie is still looking relatively cool for next week, fingers crossed.

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by lpm » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:26 am

Smoke and other aerosols around the world:

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1220451416197730305
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Chris Preston
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Chris Preston » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:45 am

Well something strange happen with the temperature map I posted. It updated itself to some other time.

This is the current forecast for Thursday. Anything purple or darker is over 40 C and that dark blob on the Victoria/NSW border is over 48 C.
Temp Map Thursday.png
Temp Map Thursday.png (225.3 KiB) Viewed 181 times
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Gentleman Jim
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Gentleman Jim » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:59 am

Could be some respite due to thunderstorms?

http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/warnings/index.shtml

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Grumble
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Grumble » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:01 am

lpm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:26 am
Smoke and other aerosols around the world:

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1220451416197730305
OMG the conspiracy nutters especially contrails fuckwits. I wonder if all NASA twitter posts are like that.
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by lpm » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:03 am

Did you read below the line? Why would you do that?
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by Grumble » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:11 am

lpm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:03 am
Did you read below the line? Why would you do that?
Optimistic naivety.
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:20 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:26 am
Smoke and other aerosols around the world:

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1220451416197730305
So are these lovely sunsets and sunrises we're having at the moment related to the fires in Oz?

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:20 pm

Chris Preston wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:45 am
Well something strange happen with the temperature map I posted. It updated itself to some other time.

This is the current forecast for Thursday. Anything purple or darker is over 40 C and that dark blob on the Victoria/NSW border is over 48 C.

Temp Map Thursday.png
I'm amazed there have only been around 30-40 deaths, that's seriously hot. How do the old folks cope?

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by lpm » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:39 pm

plodder wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:20 pm
lpm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:26 am
Smoke and other aerosols around the world:

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1220451416197730305
So are these lovely sunsets and sunrises we're having at the moment related to the fires in Oz?
No. Wouldn't cross the equator.

There are some cross‐equatorial atmospheric winds in the tropics but broadly it's two separate systems. Because the North pumps out most of the pollution - acid rain etc - the climate has a different response in each hemisphere. Likewise, tropical volcanoes have a different impact on climate because they can influence both hemispheres, while northerly/southerly ones don't.

IIRC, the cross‐equatorial winds increased in the 20th C due to the imbalance in the aerosol forcing.

ETA: see also the plot of On the Beach
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by dyqik » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:49 pm

plodder wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:20 pm
Chris Preston wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:45 am
Well something strange happen with the temperature map I posted. It updated itself to some other time.

This is the current forecast for Thursday. Anything purple or darker is over 40 C and that dark blob on the Victoria/NSW border is over 48 C.

Temp Map Thursday.png
I'm amazed there have only been around 30-40 deaths, that's seriously hot. How do the old folks cope?
I think those are the deaths from the fires directly, rather than heat.

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:52 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:39 pm
plodder wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:20 pm
lpm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:26 am
Smoke and other aerosols around the world:

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1220451416197730305
So are these lovely sunsets and sunrises we're having at the moment related to the fires in Oz?
No. Wouldn't cross the equator.

There are some cross‐equatorial atmospheric winds in the tropics but broadly it's two separate systems. Because the North pumps out most of the pollution - acid rain etc - the climate has a different response in each hemisphere. Likewise, tropical volcanoes have a different impact on climate because they can influence both hemispheres, while northerly/southerly ones don't.

IIRC, the cross‐equatorial winds increased in the 20th C due to the imbalance in the aerosol forcing.

ETA: see also the plot of On the Beach
That doesn't seem to be what the NASA graphic is showing

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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by lpm » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:12 pm

?
Australia is in the bottom left. The UK is an insignificant and rather pathetic island near the top. The dust from the Sahara can go south to the Amazon or north and swirl round to Europe. But the Amazon fires don't go to the northern hemisphere.
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Re: Australia is on fire

Post by bjn » Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:18 pm

dyqik wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:49 pm
plodder wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:20 pm
Chris Preston wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:45 am
Well something strange happen with the temperature map I posted. It updated itself to some other time.

This is the current forecast for Thursday. Anything purple or darker is over 40 C and that dark blob on the Victoria/NSW border is over 48 C.

Temp Map Thursday.png
I'm amazed there have only been around 30-40 deaths, that's seriously hot. How do the old folks cope?
I think those are the deaths from the fires directly, rather than heat.
My google-fu is weak. But I swear I heard on a recent ABC* Science Show that there has been a significant uptick in heat related deaths in Australia. Can't find the reference nor remember the exact episode.

*Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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