Lynch Lab

Weather, Climate and Society

Already concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are sufficient to force significant changes on natural and human systems.  And perhaps losses from climate change already have arrived through extreme weather events. However, it should be emphasised that many other factors interact with extreme weather events to cause losses.  These include the location of people, property, and other things of value with respect to extreme weather, and response capabilities before, during, and after extreme weather.

We investigate the connections between weather, climate and society, seeking to understand the dynamics of change in natural and human systems.

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Weather

Tropical Cyclone Yasi was a rapidly intensifying storm that formed northeast of Fiji on January 29th 2011. It tracked southwest, continually gaining intensity until reaching category 5 by the time it made landfall at Mission Beach, Australia in the early hours of February 3rd 2011. Yasi impacted a wide portion of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem - causing mechanical damage to the reef structures, reducing salinity and temperature, and bringing high levels of nutrient and sediment loading into the reef lagoons as the flood waters receded from land.

Climate

September 2012 set yet another record in the minimum Arctic sea ice extent observed since the beginning of the satellite era. The disappearing Arctic sea ice is one of the most vivid examples of observed climate change. There is considerable ambiguity concerning the role of atmospheric forcing on sea ice variability. Arctic ice-drifting buoys provide a unique opportunity to look back into several extreme cyclones with the aim of interrogating the physics underlying individual sea ice retreat events.

Society

The Murray-Darling Basin incorporates Australia's three longest rivers and spans four States and one Territory. It is important for an agricultural industry worth more than $9 billion per year, but is also the life source and spirit of the Indigenous Yorta Yorta people. The Yorta Yorta assert their inherent rights and have shown that their social, spiritual, economic and cultural links with country have never been broken. Their country, however, is a highly contested place.The colonial and climatic legacy of the past century continue to influence the realisation of the common interest.