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Heavy Rainfall Set to Drench Australia’s Fire-Ravaged Lands This Week

Relief is finally on the way!

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Heavy Rainfall Australia
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(TMU) — Relief is finally on the way to Australia in the form of heavy rainfall expected this week.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting “widespread rainfall,” according to ABC. The rain is expected to start sometime on Wednesday and last through the weekend with rainfall totals reaching 30-80 mm (1.8-3.15 inches) in the east.

Sarah Scully, BOM’s extreme weather forecaster, said that the monsoon trough in the tropical north is bringing humidity and moisture to the island nation. While the news is welcome, the rain is not expected to be enough to end the bushfire threat.

Scully explained:

As well as that, over eastern Australia we’ve had a high-pressure system that’s been sitting in the Tasman Sea.

That’s been directing a moist onshore flow over the eastern part of Australia over the last few days.”

Those unfamiliar with Australia may be likewise unfamiliar with the country’s size and usual weather patterns. While bushfires are ravaging certain areas of the island, other areas have been greeted with record-breaking rainfall after a dry 2019.

On Friday, the island of Dum In Mirrie broke records with 562 mm (22 inches) in just 24 hours and Wagait Beach received 515 mm (20.2 inches) of rain in 24-hour period as well. Residents of Wagait Beach and other areas said the deluge was “like nothing they’d seen in years.”

According to Scully, the rain from the north is expected to collide with a low-pressure trough that will develop over parts of fire-ravaged New South Wales (NWS) and will extend down to Victoria as it develops. Thankfully, the trough is currently expected to move slowly, providing ample opportunity for showers and storms to drench the area.

So with the instability that’s created by this trough, plus the increased humidity, all those ingredients go together to create a really unstable environment with increased showers and thunderstorms,” Scully said.

While the storms won’t be enough to completely extinguish the current bushfires, some of them may be contained following the rainfall and new fires may be prevented.

The best-case scenario, with the ongoing showers and storms from Wednesday onwards, is that they can really impact and help to extinguish some of the fires,” Scully said.

At least with this heavy rainfall the ground will be more moist and it’ll be harder to ignite.”

Even the Rural Fire Service is getting excited.

The excitement sure is warranted. According to the forecast, it is clear that there will be increase in shows and thunderstorms. However, Scully says that due to the nature of such storms it is “difficult to say is the exact location where the heaviest totals are going to be accumulated.”

Due to the increased moisture expected, any lightening associated with the storms is not expected to light new fires. There are, however, other risks to keep in mind.

The saturated ground can be an additional hazard for those fighting fires and rescuing animals. In addition to surfaces simply being more slippery than normal, saturated grounds can become unstable and especially hazardous when dealing with large equipment used for firefighting. And strong winds that often come with thunderstorms may further damage trees and structures damaged by the bushfires.

There’s a risk of flash flooding and landslips with any heavy bursts of rainfall, particularly over the dry and burnt out areas of NSW and eastern Victoria,” Scully said.

Flash floods wreaked havoc across California’s fire-ravaged areas during the deadly, record-breaking wildfire season of 2018. The floodwaters were blackened by ash and carried debris from the fires.

Unfortunately South Australia and southern Western Australia will missing out on the forecasted precipitation but all hope is not lost Tropical Cyclone Claudia is currently spinning off the the coast of West Australia and may bring additional rain to the country.

It’s still a number of days away, but it does look like some of the moisture from Tropical Cyclone Claudia may be picked up by the passage of a frontal system,” Scully said.

Map of Australia, mostly grey. Some green (indicating above average rain) in west but some orange (below average) in east

(Bureau of Meteorology)

 

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral

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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Environment

Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History

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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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Environment

South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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