EARTH SCIENCE | CLIMATE INDICATORS
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Relevant spatial datasets for mapping pressures were identified and collated. Pressures were categorised as resource extraction and use, pollution, habitat modification, climate, and ‘other’. Pressures included Commonwealth trawl fisheries effort, aquaculture infrastructure, location of oil and gas infrastructure, historical shipping and pollution data, location of historical seismic operations, cyclone intensity, spoil dumping, sewage outfalls, location of ports, and tourism operations. Two main pressure maps were derived i) an additive pressure hotspots map, which gives higher weight to areas with multiple pressures of high risk; and, ii) a multiplicative hotspot pressure map, which gives lower weighting to areas with multiple low risk pressures. Areas of high risk were identified, and thus possibly high benefit for management versus low risk or low associated benefit for mitigation. The information generated needs to be considered alongside robust species distribution data and interaction matrices for effective decision-making.
The Southern Ocean has been disproportionately affected by climate change and is therefore an ideal place to study the influence of changing environmental conditions on ecosystems. Changes in the demography of predator populations are indicators of broader shifts in food-web structure, but long-term data are required to study these effects. Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) from Macquarie Island have consistently decreased in population size while all other major populations across the Southern Ocean have recently stabilised or are increasing. Two long-term mark-recapture studies (1956-1967 and 1993-2009) have monitored this population, which provides an opportunity to investigate demographic performance over a range of climatic conditions. This provides insights on individual vital rates of known-age seals from Macquarie Island over extensively long timeseries.
'Weather@home ANZ' is a global citizen science distributed computing project being run as part of the Oxford-based 'weather@home' project, which is part of 'climateprediction.net'. In this experiment, a detailed limited area (regional) climate model is embedded within the less detailed 'driving' global model. This higher-resolution regional model is able to tell us in unprecedented detail about potential changes to patterns of weather as climate changes. In the initial 'weather@home' experiment launched in 2010, the project team released this regional modelling capability for three regions: Europe, Southern Africa and the Western USA. This capability has been extended to other regions around the world and the first such new region to be developed was the Australasian region encompassing Australia, New Zealand and surrounding areas, which was launched to the public in 2014. This particular part of the project - 'weatherathome ANZ' - has received support from the University of Oxford (U.K.), the U.K. Met. Office, the Universities of Melbourne and Tasmania (Australia), the Tasmanian Partnership for Advanced Computing and the New Zealand National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). 'weather@home' has also been supported by Microsoft Research.