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  • Tuesday, June 18, 2024 9:42 AM | Anonymous

    Ms Lucy Graham, Director Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC), began her presentation with a video prepared by the Bureau of Meteorology as a State of the Climate report 2020. It reported on how enhanced greenhouse effect is a major driver of our climate change. Temperatures are rising, causing more frequent heat waves and increases in fire weather days and longer fire seasons; long term rainfall patterns have shifted so that southern states are becoming drier and the central and northern parts of Australia have increased wet rainfall seasons and flooding; the oceans are absorbing carbon and acidifying; ocean temperatures continue to increase with more frequent and severe marine heatwaves and lead to sea level rises. Lucy showed a graph of drivers of climate change which recorded that the energy sector is responsible for 32% of emissions.

    Solutions to carbon emission reduction is a wicked problem. Wicked problems are used to describe really nuanced problems that are at a scale that one country alone cannot address. They generate perverse outcomes, there are problems of definition and a justice debate. Politicians and planners need to stop talking about old systems e.g. grids and start talking about distributed energy systems. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) addresses the biodiversity crisis alongside the climate crisis. There needs to be a systems approach rather than the current silo approach.

    Land clearing is the biggest threat to biodiversity loss. It increases fragmentation and species’ connectivity, delivers more flora edges which are threatened by encroachment, and cause fauna to become climate refugee - moving into higher latitudes to seek the temperature range suitable for their existence.

    The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) does not clearly outline its intended outcomes, and the environment has suffered from two decades of failing to continuously improve laws and its implementation. Regional planning laws are also failing to deliver the visions that they describe. CAFNEC has been working with conservation groups on an ambitious vision to have a restorative energy industry that increases biodiversity in Queensland and improves First Nations people and regional communities while providing affordable, reliable renewable energy.

    The presentation was extended with Manoj Prajwal Bhattaram posing some big questions to Lucy and more questions coming from the audience.

    Contributed by Pamela Tonkin

  • Tuesday, May 28, 2024 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    Professor Jonathan Corcoran was elected in November 2023 as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) based on his distinguished contributions to the field of Human Geography and to the understanding of the spatial dimensions of key social phenomena. 

    The ASSA is an independent, interdisciplinary body of elected Fellows including Australia’s leading researchers and practitioners across the breadth of social science disciplines. Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences is an honour conferred for scholarly distinction in research and the advancement of social sciences. Fellows are elected to the Academy annually by their peers through a rigorous selection process.

    Jonathan is a professor within the School of the Environment, researcher in the Queensland Centre for Population Research and Deputy Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Science, at The University of Queensland. He is an RGSQ member and former Councillor and continues to contribute as a member on the Society’s Publications committee. Jonathan’s research is focussed on understanding the spatial dimensions of key social phenomena that he approaches with a quantitative focus drawing on expertise in spatial modelling and mobility research. His work includes the spatial dimensions of crime, fire, and social disadvantage, and on human spatial behaviour, including tourist movements, commuting, and graduate migration.

    Congratulations, Jonathan!

  • Tuesday, May 28, 2024 1:17 PM | Anonymous

    From Nainoa Thompson, 2024 AAG Honorary Geographer, at his acceptance speech presented at the AAG annual conference in Honolulu April 2024:

    “Geographers today in the 21st century clearly understand the importance of the earth. They are navigators for tomorrow who are able to view the world not just from its physical and ecological space but also from humanity’s relationship to it. They look at the whole earth and all of humanity and that relationship so that they can help us make better choices to create a sail plan that will take us to a future that is good enough for our keiki (children).”

    From Emeritus Professor Iain Hay, 2024 RGSQ JP Thomson medallist ration on 7 May 2024, which explored how voluntary, community-based learned geographical societies signal hope for Australian geography: “In an era characterised by environmental degradation, sociospatial polarisation, and geopolitical turmoil, geography is of vast and heightened significance.” 

  • Thursday, February 01, 2024 2:29 PM | Anonymous

    Professor Peter Nielsen, a coastal engineer with the University of Queensland and an international consultant, has been conducting research at Amity Point since 2014. Dramatic erosion events occur there predictably. The rock wall needs regular restructuring as the sand underneath it disappears. His video showed the phenomenon of a flow slide, an event which occurs over a period of two to three hours and at a rate of 30cm/minute.

    The shoreline recedes dramatically resulting in a vertical face up to 7m tall. The result is a semicircular bay at the end of the established rock wall. Sand comes back in 2 to 3 weeks to fill in the bay again, but the damage has been done. The long-term effects are not known. Flow slides occur every few weeks, and it is quite an enigma as scientists do not know what triggers them and cannot predict when they will happen next.

    Mrs Vivienne Roberts-Thomson is the president of Coochiemudlo Island Coastcare. This is a state education department initiative, where students can go to study Marine Biology and Coastal Erosion. She has won an excellence in teaching award for her work at this centre. There are age specific programs for each year from Prep to year 12. The Centre is in partnership with the Port of Brisbane, looking at the effects of land reclamation. Students map mangroves around White Island and study changes. The pedagogy emphasises discovery, engagement and learning outside the classroom. Practical work for the students includes plankton trawls, drones under water and benthic grabs. This is real life science in action for the students, raising awareness and hopefully inspiring future champions of the bay.

    Ms Dianne Aylward is the principal of Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre. This group started in January 2013 and raises issues and undertakes action plans to protect the island which is part of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site. The crucial eastern shoreline is the most sensitive to storm damage and erosion. The group works in collaboration with the Redlands City Council and SEQ to conduct mass plantings, sand relocation and dune fencing. There is nearly 20ha of melaleuca wetlands and bush beaches, with over 200 different plant species including some endangered ones. The group has also undertaken a four-year wetland weed eradication program, taking out species like Singapore daisies and replacing them with native species such as marine couch, pigface and spinifex. The Coast Care Group relies on motivated volunteers to share the workload.

    After the three speakers had delivered their address, question time was lively, delving further into the concerns and issues and exploring possible solutions. Professor Peter believes that the donation of sand from the Port of Brisbane would be beneficial to counteract global warming on Coochiemudlo Island. The sand would come from the dredging of the 16m deep navigation channel. The proposed development of Toondah Harbour together with the filling in of wetlands would also cause a plume to affect Coochiemudlo Island. Traditionally sand has always moved into Moreton Bay from NSW because of prevailing currents, and there have also been historical storm surges through the decades. However, current development projects are having a massive effect. Scientific research must show the way forward.

    The audience benefited from the expertise of these three speakers highlighting different aspects of the impact of coastal erosion. President John Tasker ably moderated the conversation and made the speakers feel at home.

    Photo: Kay Rees

    Contributed by Stella Rush

    Register for upcoming Geography in Conversation events. 

  • Wednesday, November 01, 2023 11:41 AM | Anonymous

    L-R: Geoff Heard, Sheena Gillman, Dave Harper

    September’s Geography in Conversation provided a valuable opportunity to hear expert perspectives on monitoring and managing threatened species populations across Queensland. 

    The Threatened Species Index (TSX) seeks to measure the change in abundance over time of 278 species by collating data from monitoring programs across Australia.  Dr Geoff Heard, Science Advisor for the project at the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) gave an overview of recent trends for birds, mammals and plants. From 1990-2022 the TSX has decreased by 56% in Queensland; however, the TSX is stabilising in sites actively managed for conservation. More data is needed for frogs, fish and insects to better capture changes across the entire ecosystem.

    Sheena Gillman from BirdLife Australia illuminated the practical difficulties of monitoring programs. There are believed to be up to 50 individual Eastern Bristlebirds surviving but there have been no confirmed sightings for 10 years. Its habitat consists of dense native grass close to rainforest along the northern NSW and South East QLD border. Some of this habitat is rugged terrain or private land neither included in the TSX nor accessible to volunteers doing field work. Analysing data from newly installed passive acoustic monitors and a captive breeding program underway at Currumbin will require significant funding and time to be successful.

    The northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of the most critically threatened mammals in the world, but the population has rebounded from 100 wombats in 2006 to 300 today. Principal Conservation Officer Dave Harper from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science spoke of the activities underway among the two existing populations in conjunction with partner organisations. Traditional techniques (e.g. predator-proof fencing to keep dogs and foxes out) and innovative approaches (e.g. introducing grazing into conservation areas to control invasive buffel grass) are in place to sustain habitat suitable for the growing number of wombats.

    The Geography in Conversation committee would like to thank John and Mary Nowill for their smooth moderation of a fascinating discussion.

    Contributed by Riley Kernaghan

    Register for upcoming Geography in Conversation discussion forums.

  • Wednesday, August 09, 2023 8:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the past decade, Queensland Globe has enabled government, industry and the general public to visualise and explore state-wide spatial datasets. GeoResGlobe was introduced in 2019 and focuses on mining and exploration data.

    The Department of Resources is commencing a review of Queensland Globe and GeoResGlobe to help drive innovation and deliver enhanced functionality. Take the survey to share your insights and help shape the future of spatial data access in Queensland.

  • Thursday, March 09, 2023 1:26 PM | Anonymous

    With serious bushfires affecting the Western Downs in Qld and cyclone activity around our coasts, maybe you have been wondering what is happening with our weather patterns? What is the forecast for the next few weeks?

    Large areas of western Queensland are hot and dry, hence the bushfire risk, but tropical lows recently developed across northern Australian waters with two - TC Freddy in the West and TC Gabrielle in the Coral Sea - becoming tropical cyclones. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) indicates that while the current La Niña event continues to ease, “the atmosphere has been slower to respond and remains La Niña-like” (BOM 14/2/2023). Consequently, monsoon conditions are expected to continue, resulting in above-average rainfall for many parts of northern Australia. The BOM issues interesting weekly climate updates which explain what is happening - they indicate a transition coming around late February. Here are the key climate drivers that BOM monitors for Australia's climate:

    SSTs sea surface temperatures have weakened since their peak during spring 2022 but are still warmer than average to the south and south-east of Australia resulting in greater evaporation, humidity, cloudiness, and rainfall. All models anticipate SSTs in the central Pacific will return to neutral ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) levels during late February, with neutral conditions (neither La Niña nor El Niño) anticipated until at least mid-autumn.

    SAM Southern Annular Mode refers to the north-south movement of the strong westerly winds that blow almost continuously in the mid- to high-latitudes of the southern hemisphere. These westerly winds are associated with storms and cold fronts that move from west to east. The SAM is currently strongly positive, indicating increased summer rain, but is anticipated to ease over the coming weeks and then remain neutral.

    MJO Madden–Julian Oscillation is a feature of the tropical atmosphere, an eastward moving 'pulse' of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days. A strong MJO pulse is currently over the western Pacific bringing monsoonal conditions and above-average rainfall across northern Australia. This MJO pulse is forecast to move into the eastern Pacific in late February.

    IOD Indian Ocean Dipole is the difference between SSTs of the tropical western and eastern Indian Ocean. The IOD has three phases: positive, neutral, and negative. A positive IOD results in suppressed rainfall and conversely a negative IOD results in enhanced rainfall in the Australian region. Currently the IOD is neutral and is having little influence on Australian climate.

    The BOM also notes that climate change continues to influence Australian and global climates. Australia's climate has warmed by around 1.47 °C over the period 1910–2021. There has also been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high intensity short duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia.

    Contributed by Dr Iraphne Childs


  • Wednesday, March 08, 2023 8:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dr Annie Lau grew up in Hong Kong where she completed her high school education and her undergraduate and M. Phil degrees. She completed her PhD in Singapore. Annie is currently a Lecturer in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, UQ, specializing in geomorphology, coastal science, coastal change, storms, and tsunamis in the Pacific and Australia. Annie is an RGSQ Councilor and Treasurer.

    Dr Annie Lau in 2016 visiting Lavena, Taveuni, Fiji

    Why did you first become interested in being a geographer?

    I have always loved maps and spent hours reading road maps with my younger brother. Geography was my favourite subject in school. I enjoyed learning about mountains, rivers, population change and urban development. I was particularly amazed by the fact that I could apply the concepts learned in class to better understand the natural disasters reported in the news. I feel blessed that I am still working in the field of natural hazards, and that I can share my passion with students as I teach the “Environmental hazards” course at UQ now.

    What do you see as your main contributions to Geography?

    My research focuses on using landforms, rocks, and sediments to understand how and why coastlines change through time. Some changes are gradual (e.g. accumulation of sand to form dunes), while some happen within minutes (e.g. erosion caused by natural hazard events). The results of my work can help stakeholders and policymakers to make better decisions in risk and land management for protecting coastal environments, habitats, and people.

    What has been your greatest joy in your work as a geographer?

    Spending time and talking with people in coastal communities, especially in more isolated, remote places, motivates me to research coastal hazards as I can help people to understand the past and be better prepared for future hazards like cyclones and tsunamis. At the same time, I always feel very contented and excited to learn about nature as local people share their knowledge with me generously.

  • Wednesday, October 19, 2022 4:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The RGSQ is a proud supporter of geographical science in Queensland. Between 1992 - 2012 the Society and its passionate members supported seven Scientific Studies at sites of interest across the state. Each study generated a detailed report about the site and relevant scientific outcomes.

    The RGSQ Publications Committee has worked with the University of Queensland Library to digitise and publish these reports in UQ eSpace, an open-access repository of research materials.

    We would like to thank Kellie Ashley (SEES Liaison Librarian), Tracey Powell (eSpace Librarian), and Dulcie Stewart (Metadata Creation Officer), for their help in digitising and making these reports available in eSpace.

    Follow the links below to access the reports:

  • Tuesday, February 22, 2022 2:33 PM | Anonymous

    John Tasker, RGSQ President

    With restrictions easing and hospitalisation rates dropping, I encourage members to take full opportunity of the in-person and hybrid events currently organised for the coming months. We have an exciting program ahead, including our March Lecture from Steve Noakes who is set to provide insights into the early history of Binna Burra and the RGSQ. In addition, event registrations are now open for several activities, so please visit the RGSQ website to ensure you don’t miss out!

    The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have been a fascinating event. With more than 180km between the key venues in Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou, the 2022 Winter Olympics are one of the most spatially distributed in over 20 years. While engineering solutions have solved many challenges, including a driverless high-speed railway and more than 350 snow machines, the environmental cost of any modern Olympics remains a major concern. I encourage you to follow the links below to learn more about some of the key achievements and challenges of the recent Winter Olympics. As Queensland progresses towards our own Olympic Games in 2032, understanding the challenges of the events today is critical to inform how we can do better over the next decade.

    As discussed last year, the Council and I will be working on a new Strategic Plan for RGSQ over the coming months. To support this work, we will shortly be releasing a survey so that all members can provide their input to shape the direction of RGSQ over the coming four years. I look forward to your participation and encourage any member to reach out to me to discuss our opportunities and challenges.


    John Tasker, President
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