Thursday, May 12, 2016

Australia had larger extreme weather events in the distant past

More flooding and longer droughts.  Pesky for the Warmists as CO2 was LOWER at that time (the last 1,000 years)

Australia is systematically underestimating its drought and flood risk because weather records do not capture the full extent of rainfall variability, according to our new research.

Our study, published today in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, uses Antarctic ice core data to reconstruct rainfall for the past 1,000 years for catchments in eastern Australia.

The results show that instrumental rainfall records – available for the past 100 years at best, depending on location – do not represent the full range of abnormally wet and dry periods that have occurred over the centuries.

In other words, significantly longer and more frequent wet and dry periods were experienced in the pre-instrumental period (that is, before the 20th century) compared with the period over which records have been kept.

Reconstructing prehistoric rainfall

There is no direct indicator of rainfall patterns for Australia before weather observations began. But, strange as it may sound, there is a link between eastern Australian rainfall and the summer deposition of sea salt in Antarctic ice. This allowed us to deduce rainfall levels by studying ice cores drilled from Law Dome, a small coastal ice cap in East Antarctica.

It might sound strange, but there’s a direct link between Antarctic ice and Australia’s rainfall patterns.

How can sea salt deposits in an Antarctic ice core possibly be related to rainfall thousands of kilometres away in Australia? It is because the processes associated with rainfall variability in eastern Australia – such as the El NiƱo/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), as well as other ocean cycles like the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) – are also responsible for variations in the wind and circulation patterns that cause sea salt to be deposited in East Antarctica (as outlined in our previous research).

By studying an ice record spanning 1,013 years, our results reveal a clear story of wetter wet periods and drier dry periods than is evident in Australia’s much shorter instrumental weather record.

For example, in the Williams River catchment, which provides water for the Newcastle region of New South Wales, our results showed that the longest dry periods lasted up to 12 years. In contrast, the longest dry spell since 1900 lasted just eight years.

Among wet periods, the difference was even more pronounced. The longest unusually wet spell in our ice record lasted 39 years – almost five times longer than the post-1900 maximum of eight years.


Australia Post parcels doing laps of Australia before delivery

Sack boss Ahmed Fahour!

Australia Post customers are furious at plans to charge them up to $9 if parcels aren't picked up within five days. Courtesy Seven News Melbourne.

Complaints are mounting about Australia Post's parcel delivery service and an automatic scanning system that sends parcels thousands of kilometres in the wrong direction, or refuses to recognise home addresses that have been used for decades.

And a tough approach to under-paid mail has started turning people off letters, with one distressed lady saying she now lumps her beloved postal service "in the same basket as the big banks and electricity companies".

Australia Post introduced a new two-speed letter delivery service earlier this year that was supposed to save money on overnight processing and transportation.

Australia Post has been relying on revenues from the parcel business as letter volumes decline, with parcels contributing half of the group's $6.3 billion revenues. However, new automated parcel systems installed in late 2014 appear to be wasting resources by sending packages the wrong way or failing to recognise established addresses. And after several bad experiences people, Melbourne cartoonist Oslo Davis said he would rather hand-deliver parcels whenever possible. 

"Earlier this year I sent an artwork from Collingwood to South Yarra and it went via western Sydney then Perth then Sunshine [Victoria]. Took thirteen business days. Should have just driven it myself," he told Fairfax Media.

Sydneysider Alexandra Hordern ordered a parcel from South Australia and online tracking service shows it arrived in Chullora, New South Wales on a Thursday, but the next day it went to Sunshine, Victoria, then back to Adelaide. After complaining Miss Hordern was told automatic scanners missed the post code and the parcel could not be manually sorted until it "goes through three times with the post code scanner mis-reading it".

And when one woman bought Christmas gifts for her family, they never arrived because Australia Post no longer recognised the address her parents have been using for several decades. The parcel bounced between Queensland and New South Wales before finally being returned to the retailer. When Amy Stockwell complained, Australia Post said the address her parents had been using for 30 years did not exist. 

"As discussed, [the address] is actually located in Vernor, not Fernvale, so I would recommend providing this address to senders in future," the response read.  Both suburbs share the same postcode and her parents live within five kilometres of Fernvale. They had never used Vernor as an address.   

Problems appear to stem from automatic scanners that do not use common sense. For example, another woman told Fairfax Media she sent out 40 invitations for a work function, but all were returned the next day. She suspects sorting machines read the return addresses as the delivery address, a mistake that a human sorting through dozens of envelopes would be unlikely to make.

And Cathy Coote, a communications manager at an environmental non-profit, says expensive air monitoring equipment ordered from the United States was returned to the sender despite her attempts to collect it from the post office. According to the tracking information Australia Post attempted delivery three times, then gave her only one minute to collect the parcel before switching its status from "awaiting collection" to "returning to sender". Ms Coote says the sender would now re-post it using a different courier service.

A spokeswoman for Australia Post said it was investigating this complaint and would like to speak to Ms Coote, who told Fairfax Media she has been unable to speak to anyone Australia Post despite numerous attempts.

Meanwhile Australia Post continues to hit targets of delivering 94 per cent of mail on time, according to the spokeswoman, who also confirmed they received a temporary bump in complaint numbers following the introduction of two-speed mail.

But Australia Post's own belt tightening was now also discouraging letter writers. Carlton North resident Petra Stock recently sent a letter containing two photographs to her parents in Adelaide. She let her child choose the envelope, but because it was an irregular size she asked how much postage to pay.  A few days later she received a bill for $2.50 for underpaying by $1.

"I was a bit shocked because I had done all the right things and I felt like I would have even preferred they returned the letter than sending this unexpected bill in the post. I felt like the post had suddenly become this nasty corporation," Ms Stock told Fairfax media.

She tried to complain but was told she could only provide feedback through their My Support website, which she was unable to sign up to. The bill could only be paid in a post office or using Australia Post's own Post Billpay service, not Bpay like most other utilities.

"Letter writing is something that I absolutely love and something that I really want my kids to enjoy as well. It doesn't bother me about increasing postage, but now I wonder if my kids will get a bill [after posting a letter]. It has really changed my impression of Australia Post."

The Australia Post spokeswoman said it did not use BPay because it "only offers online payments – even then it is only for those logged on to Internet banking".



Three current reports below

Chinese student enrolments are exploding in Australia

The latest Government data for the three months to March revealed 459,621 international student enrolments over the year to date, for another 12 per cent increase over the past year.

The actual number of international students in Australia so far this year is 421,258, also a 12 per cent increase (students may enrol for more than one course, y’see), while commencements are up even more dramatically by 13 per cent.

46,370 Chinese students have already commenced courses in Aussie educational establishments this year, which is 23 per cent more than this time last year!

Big numbers, yes. Yet it’s the potential cumulative impact of the percentage increases which is the really astonishing thing.

Enrolments have increased by 36 per cent over the past three years alone, with most international students bound for the largest capital cities, drawn like scholarly flies to the bright city lights.

Well, that plus the fact that a lot of the most prestigious Universities, schools and colleges are located close to the centres of the most populous capital cities.

Small wonder, perhaps, that apartment vacancy rates haven’t been rising as fast as had been predicted in Sydney and Melbourne, despite the record construction boom.

Most of the growth in international students is sourced from Asia – a worthy glimpse into Australia’s future – and from China and India in particular.

There was a 23 per cent year-on-year increase in Chinese commencements in the first quarter of 2016, and a 26 per cent increase specifically in the higher education sector.

Meanwhile Chinese students have accounted for some 29.4 per cent of enrolments over the year to date, up from 27.8 per cent in the first three months of 2015.

Records are being shattered all over the show, and far more than could (or should) be mentioned in any one article.

There will doubtless be a few half-hearted noises made about diversification and spreading the love (or at least the concentration of risk).

But let’s face it China has a solidly growing population of about 1,381,000,000 and comparatively speaking there are very few of us. India’s population isn’t far behind at around 1.25 billion.

On balance, It appears unlikely that the supply of willing applicants is likely to dry up any time soon, so provided that education standards are maintained and establishments can facilitate foreign students appropriately, Government forecasts will continue to project nothing short of an explosion in student visas.

There has also been very strong year-on-year growth in Indian student enrolments, which one assumes (with admittedly little statistical support to my assertion) is predominantly a Melbourne thing.

Following the relaxation – ahem, streamlining – of visa rules for international students, tens of thousands of Asian students will in time go on to become permanent residents and Australian citizens.

The good fellows and my former employers at the Green Dot of Deloitte Access & Touche-Ross-Tohmatsu plc (or whatever they’re known as these days) now estimate that the higher education export industry is worth $20 billion per annum to Australia, which is even more than had previously been believed.


STEM graduates most likely to get jobs, earn more money

STEM graduates earn more money and are more likely to land a job. This was the message from The Good Education Group, which released its first Good Careers Guide today.

Figures showed people with science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) qualifications — whether from university or a vocational trainer — fared better than their non-STEM counterparts.

For university graduates, the highest average starting salaries were in dentistry ($77,000), medicine ($62,624), engineering ($62,102), surveying ($60,049) and rehabilitation ($59,603). This compared to a $52,840 average.

For vocational graduates, the highest average starting salaries were in information technology ($51,700), engineering ($51,100), education ($49,500), architecture and building ($48,200) and health ($47,400). This compared to a $46,900 average.

Good Education Group data manager Ross White said STEM graduates typically had more specialised and transferable skills so were in demand across more industries yet not enough people pursued these fields.

He said there were more people with business and management degrees alone than people with computing and IT, engineering and technology, mathematics and science degrees combined.

STEM careers also had higher employment rates.

University graduates most likely to have a job after university were in medicine (97 per cent), pharmacy (91 per cent), surveying (78 per cent), dentistry (77 per cent) and nursing/rehabilitation (76 per cent).

Meanwhile, those most likely to have a job after vocational training were in education (86 per cent), architecture and building (86 per cent), engineering (83 per cent), agriculture, environmental and related studies (81 per cent) and health (79 per cent).

Good Education Group chief executive Chris Lester said it was important more students explored STEM careers.

“With the government’s renewed focus on the importance of studying STEM subjects, it seems students would do well to consider these fields — both for positive employment and salary outcomes,” he said.

University of Adelaide Careers Service manager Sue Hervey said students took many factors into consideration when choosing a degree and starting salary was only one of them.

“In the most recent annual survey by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers, graduates listed long-term career prospects, reputation of an employer, training and development, and work content as the most important factors for them. Salary was listed by only one per cent of graduates as being the most important factor.”

Final year dental student Austin Yoo, 22, was surprised that dentists earned so much in their first year after graduation.

He said salary was not a consideration when he chose his undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide.

“With dentistry, you have to really enjoy what you are doing because you will be doing it for a significant part of your life,” he said. “Money doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness.

“If you choose it for the possibility of earning a higher salary, you are better off choosing something you have an interest in.”

Dr Yastira Lalla, who has a Bachelor of Dental Science, Master of Philosophy in Oral Oncology and is now studying a Doctorate of Clinical Dentistry in Dento-Maxillofacial Radiology at the University of Queensland, said salary didn’t factor into her career decision. “I knew that dentistry was a stable job but I never chased the money,” she said. “I always believed in following an area (I) already had interest in.

“Study has (been) challenging — it seems to increase as I move further up the academic ladder — but pursuing STEM comes with unique rewards, such as seeing your hard work published in journals, presenting your work at conferences to show others what you have achieved and of course graduation.”


Blacks attack teachers trying to help them

I have said many times that more police are what Aboriginal settlements need most.  Without security, nothing else is possible

A CAPE York school has been temporarily shut down and extra police have been rushed to the town to deal with unrest as more than 20 teachers were on Tuesday ordered to evacuate amid fears for their safety.

Education Minister Kate Jones said she was deeply concerned for the safety of teachers at the Aurukun campus of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy and promised the department would review its infrastructure and security in the town immediately.

Five extra police were sent in as reinforcements on Tuesday following an incident at the weekend in which the school’s principal was allegedly threatened with an axe and had his car stolen by a group of males aged under 19.

It was the tipping point for a union meeting of teaching staff on Monday night in which they expressed fear and called for their removal from the community on full pay while a safety strategy was negotiated.

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, who founded CYAAA, last night strongly backed the decision to evacuate the staff to Cairns, saying the employees did a “heroic job” amid unrest which had plagued the community “for too long”.

“(There are disturbances) with fights among community members, unruly youths returning from detention and all of these problems have been rolling on for several years,” he said.

In an email obtained by The Courier-Mail, staff demanded plans for construction of a “teacher community safe precinct” to start by the end of the year, increased incentives for staff working in Aurukun, and housing needs including 24-hour security and fences being concreted in the ground.

Ms Jones ordered the Education Department temporarily move 25 staff to Cairns on Tuesday.

“The safety and wellbeing of our staff has to be our number one priority,” she said.

“After considering these concerns and resolutions put forward by staff I have given my full support to the executive principal’s decision to temporarily close the Aurukun campus of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy for a period of five school days.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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