School of Earth Sciences - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 336
CH4-N-2 in the Maldon gold deposit, central Victoria, Australia
(ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2014-04-01)
The Maldon gold deposit in central Victoria has geological, geochronological and fluid chemistry characteristics that distinguish it from typical vein-hosted, 'orogenic' gold deposits in this region. The deposit lies within the thermal aureole of the Late Devonian Harcourt Granite and associated granitic dykes that postdate regional metamorphism (similar to 445 Ma) and large gold deposits such as Bendigo. The fluid inclusions are characterised by the presence of non-aqueous (i.e. carbonic) fluids, which exhibit complex freezing and heating behaviour, as well as mixed CO2-low-salinity aqueous fluids (mostly <= 10 wt.% NaCl eq.). Raman analysis indicates that carbonic inclusions can vary from CO2-rich to CH4 + N-2-rich. Furthermore, higher-salinity fluid inclusions, containing 20-22 wt.% NaCl eq., occur locally. Overall, fluid inclusions in the K-feldspar zone are much less abundant by volume than those in the cordierite zone probably due to recrystallisation, suggesting limited magmatic fluid input. The Harcourt Granite is a moderately reduced, I-type granite and it is suggested that the 'retrograde', reduced fluids (e.g. CH4 + N-2-rich), formed within the thermal aureole of the granite and associated dykes during contact metamorphism, are not part of the regional mineralising fluid system, which was dominated by deeply derived CO2-low-salinity aqueous fluids of metamorphic origin. Thus, the Maldon deposit is an 'orogenic' gold deposit that was metamorphosed and/or remobilised during the emplacement of post-orogenic intrusions.
The ENSO-Australian rainfall teleconnection in reanalysis and CMIP5
Australian rainfall is strongly influenced by El Nino-southern oscillation (ENSO). The relationship between ENSO and rainfall in eastern Australia is nonlinear; the magnitude of La Nina events has a greater effect on rainfall than does the magnitude of El Nino events, and the cause of the non-linearity is unclear from previous work. The twentieth century reanalysis succeeds in capturing the asymmetric ENSO-rainfall relationship. In the reanalysis the asymmetry is strongly related to moisture availability in the south-west Pacific whereas wind flow is of less importance. Some global climate models (GCMs) in the coupled model intercomparison project (CMIP5) archive capture the asymmetric nature of the ENSO-rainfall relationship whilst others do not. Differences in thermodynamic processes and their relationships with ENSO are the primary cause of variability in model performance. Analysis of an atmosphere-only run of a GCM which fails to capture the non-linear ENSO-rainfall relationship is also conducted. The atmospheric run forced by observed sea surface temperatures shows no significant improvement in the ENSO-rainfall relationship over the corresponding coupled model run in the CMIP5 archive. This result suggests that some models are failing to capture the atmospheric teleconnection between the tropical Pacific and Australia, and both this and a realistic representation of oceanic ENSO characteristics are required for coupled models to accurately capture the ENSO-rainfall teleconnection. These findings have implications for the study of rainfall projections in the region.
Microclimate modelling at macro scales: a test of a general microclimate model integrated with gridded continental-scale soil and weather data
The microclimate experienced by organisms is determined by local weather conditions. Yet the environmental data available for predicting the effect of climate on the distribution and abundance of organisms are typically in the form of long-term average monthly climate measured at standardized heights above the ground.Here, we demonstrate how hourly microclimates can be modelled mechanistically over decades at the continental scale with biologically suitable accuracy.We extend the microclimate model of the software package niche mapper to capture spatial and temporal variation in soil thermal properties and integrate it with gridded soil and weather data for Australia at 0 center dot 05 degrees resolution.When tested against historical observations of soil temperature, the microclimate model predicted 85% of the variation in hourly soil temperature across 10years from the surface to 1m deep with an accuracy of 2-3 center dot 3 degrees C (c. 10% of the temperature range at a given depth) across an extremely climatically diverse range of sites.This capacity to accurately and mechanistically predict hourly local microclimates across continental scales creates new opportunities for understanding how organisms respond to changes in climate.
Fossil evidence for a hyperdiverse sclerophyll flora under a non–Mediterranean-type climate
(National Academy of Sciences, 2013)
The spectacular diversity of sclerophyll plants in the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa and Australia’s Southwest Floristic Region has been attributed to either explosive radiation on infertile soils under fire-prone, summer-dry climates or sustained accretion of species under inferred stable climate regimes. However, the very poor fossil record of these regions has made these ideas difficult to test. Here, we reconstruct ecological-scale plant species richness from an exceptionally well-preserved fossil flora. We show that a hyperdiverse sclerophyll flora existed under high-rainfall, summerwet climates in the Early Pleistocene in southeastern Australia. The sclerophyll flora of this region must, therefore, have suffered subsequent extinctions to result in its current relatively low diversity. This regional loss of sclerophyll diversity occurred at the same time as a loss of rainforest diversity and cannot be explained by ecological substitution of species of one ecological type by another type. We show that sclerophyll hyperdiversity has developed in distinctly non-Mediterranean climates, and this diversity is, therefore, more likely a response to long-term climate stability. Climate stability may have both reduced the intensity of extinctions associated with the Pleistocene climate cycles and promoted the accumulation of species richness by encouraging genetic divergence between populations and discouraging plant dispersal.
Adapting to climate change in Pacific Island countries: the problem of uncertainty
This paper investigates the problem of scientific uncertainty and the way it impedes planning for climate change and accelerated sea-level rise (CC & ASLR) in Pacific Island Countries. The paper begins by discussing the problems CC & ASLR poses for Pacific Island Countries, and it explores the limitations of the dominant approach to vulnerability and adaptation. Next, the paper considers the way scientific uncertainty problematises policies aimed at adaptation to CC & ASLR. It argues that the prevailing approach, which requires anticipation of impacts, is unsuccessful, and the paper proposes a complementary strategy aimed to enhance the resilience of whole island social-ecological systems. Recent developments in the theory and practice of resilience are discussed and then applied to formulate goals for adaptation policy in Pacific Island Countries.
Groundwater Quality Hydrogeological Assessments
Groundwater is a vital resource in Victoria. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and other authorities recognise the need to protect the quality of groundwater as a resource and as part of the natural environment. Hydrogeological Assessments (HAs) is one of the tools used to provide the information necessary to determine the status of groundwater quality or the effects of a proposal on the beneficial uses of groundwater. For example, a proponent of a new landfill or industrial development with potential to impact groundwater is likely to be required to perform a HA. The HA guidelines that have been published by EPA (EPA publication 668) provide an overview of HA methodologies, and the reasons for using different investigative techniques. The document presented here is a background document. It was commissioned and funded by the EPA; however it was never published by EPA. Instead, this document formed the basis for development of the guidelines, Hydrogeological Assessments (Groundwater Quality) Guidelines, published by EPA in August 2006.
Non-stationarity in daily and sub-daily intense rainfall – Part 2: regional assessment for sites in south-east Australia
(Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geoscience Union, 2011)
Using data for a common period (1976–2005) for a set of 31 sites located in south-east Australia, variations in frequency and magnitude of intense rainfall events across durations from 6 min to 72 h were assessed. This study was driven by a need to clarify how variations in climate might affect intense rainfall and the potential for flooding. Sub-daily durations are of particular interest for urban applications. Worldwide, few such observation-based studies exist, which is mainly due to limitations in data. Analysis of seasonality in frequency and magnitude of events revealed considerable variation across the set of sites, implying different dominating rainfall-producing mechanisms and/or interactions with local topography. Both these factors are relevant when assessing the potential effects of climate variations on intense rainfall events. The set of sites was therefore split into groups ("north cluster" and "south cluster") according to the characteristics of intense rainfall events. There is a strong polarisation in the nature of changes found for the north cluster and south cluster. While sites in the north cluster typically exhibit decrease in frequency of events, particularly in autumn and at durations of 1 h and longer; sites in the south cluster experience an increase in frequency of events, particularly for summer and sub-hourly durations. Non-stationarity found in historical records has the potential to significantly affect design rainfall estimates. An assessment of quantile estimates derived using a standard regionalisation technique and periods representative of record lengths available for practical applications show that such estimates may not be representative of long-term conditions, so alternative approaches need to be considered, particularly where short records are concerned. Additional rainfall information, in particular radar data, could be used for an in-depth spatial analysis of intense rainfall events.
Non-stationarity in daily and sub-daily intense rainfall – Part 1: Sydney, Australia
(Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geoscience Union, 2011)
This study was driven by a need to clarify how variations in climate might affect intense rainfall and the potential for flooding. Sub-daily durations are of particular interest for urban applications. Worldwide, few such observation-based studies exist, which is mainly due to limitations in data. While there are still large discrepancies between precipitation data sets from observations and models, both show that there is a tendency for moist regions to become wetter and for dry regions to become drier. However, changes in extreme conditions may show the opposite sign to those in average conditions. Where changes in observed intense precipitation have been studied, this has typically been for daily durations or longer. The purpose of this two-part study is to examine daily and sub-daily rainfall extremes for evidence of non-stationarity. Here the problem was addressed by supplementing one long record (Part 1) by a set of shorter records for a 30-yr concurrent period (Part 2). Variations in frequency and magnitude of rainfall extremes across durations from 6 min to 72 h were assessed using data from sites in the south-east of Australia. For the analyses presented in this paper, a peaks-over-threshold approach was chosen since it allows investigating changes in frequency as well as magnitude. Non-parametric approaches were used to assess changes in frequency, magnitude, and quantile estimates as well as the statistical significance of changes for one station (Sydney Observatory Hill) for the period 1921 to 2005. Deviations from the long-term average vary with season, duration, and threshold. The effects of climate variations are most readily detected for the highest thresholds. Deviations from the long-term average tend to be larger for frequencies than for magnitudes, and changes in frequency and magnitude may have opposite signs. Investigations presented in this paper show that variations in frequency and magnitude of events at daily durations are a poor indicator of changes at sub-daily durations. Studies like the one presented here should be undertaken for other regions to allow the identification of regions with significant increase/decrease in intense rainfall, whether there are common features with regards to duration and season exhibiting most significant changes (which in turn could lead to establishing a theoretical framework), and assist in validation of projections of rainfall extremes.
A transport model study of the breakup of the Antarctic ozone hole in November 2000
(American Geophysical Union, 2003)
A 3-D off-line transport model is used to examine the breakup of the Antarctic ozone hole in late November and early December 2000. The use of a transport model enables an analysis of the vortex breakup that is not possible from the use of ozonesonde observations alone. By initializing ozone mixing ratio on 1 September 2000, and using parameterized ozone production and loss rates, the evolution of the Antarctic ozone hole is simulated. The model simulation shows that during late November and early December 2000, the Antarctic ozone hole splits into two sections, with low-ozone air subsequently transported over New Zealand and south-eastern Australia. Modeled ozone values agree well with ozonesonde profiles, confirming the role of horizontal transport in the dilution of mid-latitude ozone.
Decadal prediction: can it be skilful?
(American Meteorological Society, 2009)
A new field of study, “decadal prediction,” is emerging in climate science. Decadal prediction lies between seasonal/interannual forecasting and longer-term climate change projections, and focuses on time-evolving regional climate conditions over the next 10–30 yr. Numerous assessments of climate information user needs have identified this time scale as being important to infrastructure planners, water resource managers, and many others. It is central to the information portfolio required to adapt effectively to and through climatic changes. At least three factors influence time-evolving regional climate at the decadal time scale: 1) climate change commitment (further warming as the coupled climate system comes into adjustment with increases of greenhouse gases that have already occurred), 2) external forcing, particularly from future increases of greenhouse gases and recovery of the ozone hole, and 3) internally generated variability. Some decadal prediction skill has been demonstrated to arise from the first two of these factors, and there is evidence that initialized coupled climate models can capture mechanisms of internally generated decadal climate variations, thus increasing predictive skill globally and particularly regionally. Several methods have been proposed for initializing global coupled climate models for decadal predictions, all of which involve global time-evolving three-dimensional ocean data, including temperature and salinity. An experimental framework to address decadal predictability/prediction is described in this paper and has been incorporated into the coordinated Coupled Model Intercomparison Model, phase 5 (CMIP5) experiments, some of which will be assessed for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). These experiments will likely guide work in this emerging field over the next 5 yr.
A combined climate extremes index for the Australian Region
(American Meteorological Society, 2010)
Changes in the area of Australia experiencing concurrent temperature and rainfall extremes are investigated through the use of two combined indices. The indices describe variations between the fraction of land area experiencing extreme cold and dry or hot and wet conditions. There is a high level of agreement between the variations and trends of the indices from 1957 to 2008 when computed using (i) a spatially complete gridded dataset without rigorous quality control checks and (ii) spatially incomplete high-quality station datasets with rigorous quality control checks. Australian extremes are examined starting from 1911, which is the first time a broad-scale assessment of Australian temperature extremes has been performed prior to 1957. Over the whole country, the results show an increase in the extent of hot and wet extremes and a decrease in the extent of cold and dry extremes annually and during all seasons from 1911 to 2008 at a rate of between 1% and 2% decade−1. These trends mostly stem from changes in tropical regions during summer and spring. There are relationships between the extent of extreme maximum temperatures, precipitation, and soil moisture on interannual and decadal time scales that are similar to the relationships exhibited by variations of the means. However, the trends from 1911 to 2008 and from 1957 to 2008 are not consistent with these relationships, providing evidence that the processes causing the interannual variations and those causing the longer-term trends are different.