Placeholder Content Image

Yes, it’s getting more humid in summer. Here’s why

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-sherwood-272">Steven Sherwood</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Has Sydney felt more like Cairns lately? You’re not imagining it – millions of Australians up and down the east coast have sweltered through exceptionally high humidity in recent weeks.</p> <p>It’s due to normal weather patterns combined with a boost from global warming. Right now, the temperature of the sea surface is <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDYOC052.Aus.SSTAnomaly.shtml">1–3°C above normal</a> for this time of year up and down the east coast. It’s particularly hot around the Queensland-New South Wales border and Tasmania’s east coast.</p> <p>When we have high ocean temperatures, we get more water evaporating. This is taken up by the air, which can hold more moisture when the air is hotter. This moist air is then carried to us by winds, and the sweating begins.</p> <h2>Where does humidity come from?</h2> <p>Humidity is just gaseous water held in the air after evaporating from liquid water or ice. It is called a vapour because it condenses into rain — the more humid, the more likely rain is.</p> <p>Higher humidity makes us feel hotter in warm weather, and slows the drying of laundry on a clothesline or of plants in the garden.</p> <p>How do we measure it? Two common ways are the “dew point” and “relative humidity”.</p> <p>At any given air temperature, there’s a limit to how much vapour the air will retain. Any vapour above this limit will just condense out. But the limit roughly doubles with every 10°C of warming; the dew point is the temperature where the vapour would hit the limit. The less vapour there is in the air, the colder the dew point.</p> <p>Relative humidity is the ratio of how much vapour the air has compared to the maximum it would retain.</p> <p>If you’re in Tasmania and see that relative humidity is at 100%, you might be confused. But this measure essentially tracks how “full” the air is. At 100% relative humidity, the dew point matches the actual temperature and no more vapour can be added. If the dew point is 10°C below the actual temperature, relative humidity is about 50%.</p> <p>How do we measure it? The dew point can be measured directly using a chilled mirror and a laser to detect condensation. More often it’s calculated from measurements of relative humidity and temperature.</p> <p>Relative humidity determines whether material exposed to the air will moisten or dry out. That’s why relative-humidity sensors use cheap water-absorbing materials (early ones used a strand of human hair!).</p> <h2>What does a changing climate mean for humidity?</h2> <p>The world’s higher ocean temperatures are unambiguously attributable to global warming, largely from the greenhouse gases we have added by burning fossil fuels. To date, more than 90% of all the extra heat thereby trapped has gone into the oceans.</p> <p>The amount of water vapour over the oceans has increased by roughly 5% since the industrial era began, in lockstep with global warming.</p> <p>Global warming will continue until we stop it. That means the atmosphere will keep getting more humid.</p> <p>If the world manages to keep global warming below 2°C, we should avoid the worst health outcomes from more humidity. But even then, we would expect up to another 5% increase in peak water vapour.</p> <p>Right now, we are seeing higher-than-normal temperatures in most of our surrounding oceans, with only a few exceptions. The areas hit hardest by rising humidity are mostly those that are already humid, like Queensland and the Northern Territory.</p> <p>Although peak dew points are rising, you may be confused to hear average relative humidity is actually <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1722312115">falling over land</a>. That’s because the land is warming so fast the average dew points aren’t quite keeping up with temperature, lowering the ratio.</p> <p>That means, alas, that Australia faces a double whammy: increasing water stress and bushfire risk as well as sweatier summers.</p> <h2>Humidity can be very dangerous</h2> <p>Our natural cooling system in hot weather is evaporation of sweat. Sweat forms on your skin, and the air evaporates it, taking the heat with it.</p> <p>But this only works to a point. When the dew point is higher, our self-cooling methods get less and less effective. How important this is depends on how hot you feel. On a moderate but muggy day, you might feel fine until you need to climb four flights of stairs and end up sweaty and exhausted. On a hotter but less muggy day you’d feel the heat at the outset, but would more easily handle the stairs.</p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology uses something called “<a href="https://media.bom.gov.au/social/blog/1153/apparent-feels-like-temperature/">apparent temperature</a>” to capture the combined effect of temperature and humidity, although this assumes you’re not exerting yourself.</p> <p>How you feel with more exertion can be captured by other measures, such as the “wet bulb globe temperature” now being used at sporting events such as the Australian Open.</p> <p>The Bureau has recently begun providing <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/places/nsw/sydney/forecast/detailed/">humidity and apparent temperature forecasts</a> as a beta product, which is great for activity planning.</p> <p>This type of information will become more important as the heat builds. As humidity increases during peak humid heat episodes, it makes heat stress worse and moves us toward our body’s physical limits.</p> <p><a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2316003120">Recent research</a> has shown the combination of humidity and heat could make parts of the planet unlivable if Paris Agreement targets are not met, beginning in India and spreading elsewhere in the tropics – including the Top End of Australia.</p> <p>We need to prepare now for increasing heat, while doing everything we can to stop the routine burning of fossil fuels as soon as possible to maintain a margin of safety for humanity.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221748/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-sherwood-272"><em>Steven Sherwood</em></a><em>, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Change Research Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/yes-its-getting-more-humid-in-summer-heres-why-221748">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

What does El Niño do to the weather in your state?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kimberley-reid-767059">Kimberley Reid</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>You’ve probably heard El Niño brings hot and dry weather to the eastern states, but what about the rest of Australia? Are we all in for a scorcher this summer?</p> <p>El Niño is what scientists call a <a href="https://www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au/en/overview/climate-system/australian-climate-influences/">climate driver</a>. But it’s just one of many.</p> <p>These climate drivers control year-to-year variations in the weather. Some years are hotter and drier, while others are cooler and wetter.</p> <p>Australia is particularly prone to weather whiplash because our continent is buffeted by climate drivers to our north, south, east and west. The dominant driver in your state may be one of the lesser-known influences.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iVhi1wq2sTY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Understanding Climate Drivers (Bureau of Meteorology)</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>East: El Niño Southern Oscillation</h2> <p>The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the resident climate driver in the Pacific Ocean and the driver with the biggest influence over Australian weather. Differences in sea surface temperatures and winds across the Pacific determine whether we swing towards El Niño (the boy) or La Niña (the girl).</p> <p><a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=enso">During the El Niño phase</a>, sea surface temperatures near South America are warmer than normal and they are cooler than normal off the coast of eastern Australia. Additionally, trade winds that blow from east to west across the Pacific weaken.</p> <p>El Niño brings hotter daytime temperatures, but often <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/#tabs=Pacific-Ocean&amp;pacific=History">cooler nights</a>. That’s because reduced cloud cover allows more heat to escape into space overnight. So the same process that increases the chances of heatwaves can also raise the <a href="https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/climate-weather/historical-frost-and-heat-maps-south-west-land-division">risk of frost</a> in Western Australia, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.</p> <p>Australia as a whole is typically drier during an El Niño event. In the tropical regions, El Niño can delay the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a008-el-nino-and-australia.shtml">onset of the monsoon and reduce the likelihood of tropical cyclones</a>. In the southern states, the hot and dry conditions increase the chance of intense bushfires.</p> <p>La Niña is the opposite phase. Waters off eastern Australia are warmer than usual, increasing the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/#tabs=Pacific-Ocean&amp;pacific=History&amp;enso-impacts=La-Ni%C3%B1a-impacts">chance of tropical cyclones</a> and an earlier start to the monsoon for WA, the Northern Territory and Queensland.</p> <p>So what does El Niño do to the weather in your state? Hover over your state in the interactive map to find out.</p> <p><iframe id="tc-infographic-1008" class="tc-infographic" style="border: none;" src="https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/1008/7f37ae91389db072906b320ffd54d0fefd840c0d/site/index.html" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>West: Indian Ocean Dipole</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=iod">Indian Ocean Dipole</a> is like ENSO’s Indian Ocean cousin. A positive Indian Ocean Dipole is declared when ocean temperatures near Africa are warmer than normal and ocean temperatures off the coast of Sumatra are cooler than usual.</p> <p>A positive dipole tends to bring warmer and drier conditions, particularly to western and central Australia. A negative Indian Ocean Dipole is the reverse and is associated with wetter than normal weather and an increase in <a href="https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/why-more-clouds-can-mean-less-rain-in-australia">northwest cloudbands</a>.</p> <h2>North: Madden-Julian Oscillation</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=mjo">Madden-Julian Oscillation</a> is a pulse of storms that start in the Indian Ocean, travel over Northern Australia and Indonesia and die in the Pacific Ocean. Ahead of the pulse, the air sinks, causing sunny and dry weather. Under the pulse is high storm activity and typically heavy rainfall.</p> <p>We describe the Madden-Julian Oscillation based on whether the pulse of storms is <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/mjo/">active or inactive</a> and where the storm activity is located on its path between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As well as causing rainfall, the Madden-Julian Oscillation can control the timing of the monsoon onset and <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=tc">tropical cyclone formation</a>.</p> <h2>South: Southern Annular Mode</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=sam">Southern Annular Mode</a> controls the north and south position of the westerly winds that whizz around the globe in the Southern Ocean. When the winds are further north than usual, we call this the negative phase. But when the westerly wind move towards Antarctica, we call this the positive phase.</p> <p>The phase of the Southern Annular Mode <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/joc.1370">affects how many weather systems</a>, like cold fronts, make landfall over southern Australia. A positive mode may also draw tropical moist air south, which happened in 2022 during the extensive flooding over eastern Australia.</p> <h2>Climate drivers control the odds, but not the result</h2> <p>These four key climate drivers affect the weather on average (over months and seasons), but they do not dictate the exact day-to-day weather we experience. As the Gippsland region of Victoria <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/05/victoria-floods-flooding-warnings-gippsland-region-flood-and-fires-evacuation">saw in October</a>, heavy rainfall can still occur during an El Niño.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=407&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=407&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=407&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=512&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=512&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=512&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of Australia showing the difference from normal rainfall during October 2023, with a large wet patch around Gippsland, Victoria." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Difference from normal rainfall during October 2023, showing defined wet area around Gippsland, Victoria surrounded by drier conditions.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">The Bureau of Meteorology</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Climate drivers are like a football coach. They can select the best players and develop ingenious strategies, but that doesn’t guarantee a win every time.</p> <p>Players can get injured on the field or simply have a bad game. These uncontrollable factors are challenging to predict and may change the result from what we would expect. Scientists call this stochasticity. The climate drivers are the football coach, but the day-to-day weather systems are the players.</p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/">releases an update</a> on all of these drivers every two weeks. The update explains which drivers are currently active and the forecast for the next few weeks.</p> <p>So, if you are wondering why the weather is cooler during summer, or it’s raining in the middle of the dry season, perhaps take a look at which driver is steering Australia’s weather at the moment.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218257/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kimberley-reid-767059">Kimberley Reid</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Atmospheric Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-does-el-nino-do-to-the-weather-in-your-state-218257">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Extreme weather is landing more Australians in hospital – and heat is the biggest culprit

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-peden-1136424">Amy Peden</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Hospital admissions for injuries directly attributable to extreme weather events – such as heatwaves, bushfires and storms – have increased in Australia over the past decade.</p> <p>A new <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/extreme-weather-injuries/contents/about">report</a> from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows 9,119 Australians were hospitalised for injuries from extreme weather from 2012-22 and 677 people died from these injuries in the decade up to 2021.</p> <p>In 2021-22, there were 754 injury hospitalisations directly related to extreme weather, compared to 576 in 2011-12.</p> <p>Extreme heat is responsible for most weather-related injuries. Exposure to prolonged natural heat can result in physical conditions ranging from mild heat stroke, to organ damage and <a href="https://www.dea.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/DEA-Fact-Sheet_HeatwavesWEB.pdf">death</a>.</p> <p>As Australia heads into summer with an El Niño, it’s important understand and prepare for the health risks associated with extreme weather.</p> <h2>A spike every three years</h2> <p>Extreme weather-related hospitalisations have spiked at more than 1,000 cases every three years, with the spikes becoming progressively higher. There were:</p> <ul> <li>1,027 injury hospitalisations in 2013–14</li> <li>1,033 in 2016–17</li> <li>1,108 in 2019–20.</li> </ul> <p><iframe id="vLaas" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/vLaas/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>In each of these three years, extreme heat had the biggest impact on hospital admissions and deaths.</p> <p><iframe id="P03sm" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/P03sm/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Extreme heat accounted for 7,104 injury hospitalisations (78% of all injury hospitalisations) and 293 deaths (43% of all injury deaths) in the ten year period analysed.</p> <p>In 2011-12, there were 354 injury hospitalisations directly related to extreme heat. This rose to 579 by 2021-22.</p> <h2>El Niño and La Niña</h2> <p>Over the past three decades, extreme weather events have increased in <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/">frequency</a> and <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/">severity</a>.</p> <p>In Australia, El Niño drives a period of reduced rainfall, warmer temperatures and increased bushfire danger.</p> <p>La Niña, on the other hand, is associated with above average rainfall, cooler daytime temperatures and increased chance of tropical cyclones and flood events.</p> <p>Although similar numbers of heatwave-related hospitalisations occurred in El Niño and La Niña years studied, the number of injuries related to bushfires was higher in El Niño years.</p> <p>During the 2019–20 bushfires, in the week beginning January 5 2020, there were 1,100 more hospitalisations than the previous five-year average, an 11% increase.</p> <p>Although El Niño hasn’t directly been proved as the cause for these three spikes, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, two of the three years (2016-17 and 2019-20) were El Niño summers. And the other year (2013-14) was the warmest neutral year on record at that time.</p> <h2>Regional differences</h2> <p>Exposure to excessive natural heat was the most common cause leading to injury hospitalisation for all the mainland states and territories. From 2019 to 2022, there were 2,143 hospital admissions related to extreme heat, including:</p> <ul> <li>717 patients from Queensland</li> <li>410 from Victoria</li> <li>348 from NSW</li> <li>267 from South Australia</li> <li>266 from Western Australia</li> <li>73 from the Northern Territory</li> <li>23 from the ACT</li> <li>19 from Tasmania.</li> </ul> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/556987/original/file-20231101-27-3c98xm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/556987/original/file-20231101-27-3c98xm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=632&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/556987/original/file-20231101-27-3c98xm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=632&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/556987/original/file-20231101-27-3c98xm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=632&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/556987/original/file-20231101-27-3c98xm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=794&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/556987/original/file-20231101-27-3c98xm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=794&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/556987/original/file-20231101-27-3c98xm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=794&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/latest-reports">AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The report also includes state and territory data on hospitalisations related to extreme cold and storms.</p> <p>During the ten-year period analysed, there were 773 injury hospitalisations and 242 deaths related to extreme cold. Extreme rain or storms accounted for 348 injury hospitalisations and 77 deaths.</p> <p>From 2019 to 2022, there were 191 hospitalisations related to extreme cold, with Victoria recording the highest number (51, compared to 40 in next-placed NSW). During the same period there were 111 hospitalisations related to rain and storms, with 52 occurring in NSW and 28 in Queensland.</p> <h2>What about for bushfires?</h2> <p>Over the ten-year period studied, there were 894 hospitalisations and 65 deaths related to bushfires.</p> <p>Bushfire-related injury hospitalisations and deaths peaked in 2019–20, an El Niño year with 174 hospitalisations and 35 deaths. The two most common injuries that result from bushfires are smoke inhalation and burns.</p> <p>During the 2019–20 bushfires, in the week beginning 5 January 2020 there were 1,100 more respiratory hospitalisations than the previous five-year average, an 11% increase.</p> <p>The greatest increase in the hospitalisation rate for burns was 30% in the week beginning December 15 2019 — 0.8 per 100,000 persons (about 210 hospitalisations), compared with the previous 5-year average of 0.6 per 100,000 (an average of 155 hospitalisations).</p> <h2>Some people are particularly vulnerable</h2> <p>Anyone can be affected by extreme weather-related injuries but some population groups are more at risk than others. This includes older people, children, people with disabilities, those with pre-existing or chronic health conditions, outdoor workers, and those with greater <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/15/1/813">socioeconomic disadvantage</a>.</p> <p>People in these groups may have reduced capacity to avoid or reduce the health impacts of extreme weather conditions, for example older people taking medication may be less able to regulate their body temperature. “Thermal inequity” includes people living in poor quality housing who have difficulty accessing adequate heating and cooling.</p> <p>For heat-related injuries between 2019–20 and 2021–22, people aged 65 and over were the most commonly admitted to hospital, followed by people aged 25–44.</p> <p>Across age groups, men had higher numbers of heat related injury hospitalisations than women. This difference was most notable among those aged 25-44 and 45-64 years, where over twice as many men were hospitalised due to extreme heat as women.</p> <h2>We still don’t have a full picture</h2> <p>The AIHW data only includes injuries which were serious enough for patients to be admitted to hospital; it doesn’t include cases where patients treated in an emergency department and sent home without being admitted.</p> <p>It includes injuries that were directly attributable to weather-related events but does not include injuries that were indirectly related. For example, it doesn’t include injuries from road traffic accidents that occur due to wet weather, since the primary cause of injury would be recorded as “transport”.</p> <p>Improved surveillance of weather-related injuries could help the health system and the community better prepare for responding to extreme weather conditions. For example, better data aids communities in predicting what resources will be needed during periods of extreme weather.</p> <p>A more complete picture of injuries during weather events could also be used to inform people of actions they can take to protect their own health. Given a predicted hot summer, this could be a matter of life or death.</p> <p><em>This article was co-authored by Sarah Ahmed and Heather Swanston from the Injuries and System Surveillance Unit at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216440/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-peden-1136424">Amy Peden</a>, NHMRC Research Fellow, School of Population Health &amp; co-founder UNSW Beach Safety Research Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/extreme-weather-is-landing-more-australians-in-hospital-and-heat-is-the-biggest-culprit-216440">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

"It was beautiful": Rare rainbow cloud stuns small farming town

<p>The locals of a small farming town in Western Australia have been delighted with the sighting of a rare rainbow cloud. </p> <p>The colourful weather phenomenon appeared above the town of Goomalling, about 130km northwest of Perth in Western Australia, on Tuesday morning.</p> <p>Jenni Shaw was at her family-owned business when she got a text from a friend instructing her to look up at the sky. </p> <p><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif;">"We all went out the front and had a look and there was some bright, rainbow-type clouds in the sky that we hadn't seen before," she </span>told <em><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-24/rainbow-cloud-iridescence-irisation-delights-wheatbelt-community/103016928" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ABC</a></em><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif;">.</span></p> <p>“It was beautiful,” she said.</p> <p>“But we were a bit like ‘why is that like that? Should we still be outside looking or not?’”</p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Flang.lefroy.7%2Fposts%2Fpfbid02h2HTyVYSVda8NkewrireTWPS4P6wKTnuJxhBWfkNhbxGn3QzHweELRNFQczM8GsPl&show_text=true&width=500" width="500" height="645" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Ms Shaw said the rainbow-coloured cloud was visible for just a few minutes.</p> <p>"It was not there long, just long enough for us all to get some photos," she said.</p> <p class="paragraph_paragraph__3Hrfa" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1rem; font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif;">Jessica Lingard from the Bureau of Meteorology said rainbow clouds, known as cloud iridescence, form in the same way as rainbows - when sunlight diffracts off water or ice crystals in the sky.</p> <p>"It's quite a rare phenomenon to catch in person," she said.</p> <p>"It's the perfect storm of conditions: the sun's at the right angle, the clouds are not too thin and not too thick that they're being blocked out, and the sunlight has just created this spectacle of coloured light."</p> <div data-component="EmphasisedText"> <p>"It's an absolutely stunning photo."</p> </div> <p>Lucky local residents said it wasn’t the first time they’d seen the special clouds in the area.</p> <p>“I have seen clouds like this a few times in my travels, mostly in the Wheatbelt,” Jill Lefroy wrote on Facebook. </p> <p>“Pretty awesome seeing a rainbow with no rain!”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

It’s warming up and mozzies are coming. Here’s how to mosquito-proof your backyard

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cameron-webb-6736">Cameron Webb</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>The weather is warming up and that means more time in the backyard. It also means more mosquitoes.</p> <p>Here are five ways you can mosquito-proof your backyard that <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-battle-against-bugs-its-time-to-end-chemical-warfare-111629">don’t rely on spraying insecticides</a>.</p> <h2>1. Get rid of water</h2> <p>Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycles. They <a href="https://theconversation.com/feel-like-youre-a-mozzie-magnet-its-true-mosquitoes-prefer-to-bite-some-people-over-others-128788">need blood</a> – but water and warmth are just as important.</p> <p>Getting rid of water around your backyard will go a long way to keeping mosquitoes away. Water trapped in blocked roof gutters, drains and tarpaulin covering boats and trailers can be a great home for mosquitoes.</p> <p>Mosquitoes can exploit the tiniest of water sources too. It may just be the upturned lid of a discarded plastic drink bottle. If it traps water, mosquitoes will find it and lay eggs in it.</p> <p>Flush out your bird bath once a week to disrupt the mosquito’s life cycle.</p> <p>If you have a pond, installing a fountain will discourage mosquitoes. If you can’t keep water clean and circulating, consider filling it with sand and gravel to create an interesting garden bed for succulents or other plants.</p> <p>Mosquitoes will avoid clean and chlorinated swimming pools but will quickly move into “green pools”. If you’re not using your pool, consider <a href="https://www.krg.nsw.gov.au/Environment/Your-local-environment/Wildlife/Living-with-wildlife/Pool-to-pond/How-to-convert-your-pool">converting it to a “pond”</a> so that fish can help keep mosquito numbers down.</p> <h2>2. Screen up – windows, doors and rainwater tanks</h2> <p>If you can’t get rid of permanent water, at least stop mosquitoes getting to it (or you).</p> <p>Ensure <a href="https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/clean-and-green/natural-environment-and-water/water/water-smart-homes/rainwater-tanks/using-your-rainwater-tank">rainwater and septic tanks</a> have screens to stop mosquitoes entering.</p> <p>Screen windows and doors to stop mosquitoes entering the home. There are plenty of flexible screening options for windows, doors and balconies.</p> <p>If you live in a mosquito-prone area, creating a screened outdoor area (such as a pergola, courtyard, or balcony) will give you the opportunity to spend time outdoors without being hassled by mozzies.</p> <h2>3. Choose your garden plants carefully</h2> <p>Some plants <a href="https://bioone.org/journals/Journal-of-the-American-Mosquito-Control-Association/volume-25/issue-3/09-0016.1/Are-Commercially-Available-Essential-Oils-from-Australian-Native-Plants-Repellent/10.2987/09-0016.1.short">contain essential oils and other chemicals</a> that, when extracted and concentrated, provide protection against biting mosquitoes. But there isn’t a lot of evidence that the whole plant will keep mosquitoes away from your garden.</p> <p>Some types of plants are even marketed as “mozzie blockers” or “mosquito repelling”. But there isn’t <a href="https://www.veranda.com/outdoor-garden/a40592197/do-mosquito-repelling-plants-work/">any evidence of effectiveness</a>. In fact, some of these plants, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1440-6055.2009.00736.x">such as melaleucas</a>, also happen to be associated with <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jme/article/36/4/515/903838">hot spots of mosquito breeding</a> in coastal Australia.</p> <p>The plants to <em>avoid</em> around the home are those that help mosquitoes breed, such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1440-6055.2008.00641.x">bromeliads</a>, which trap water.</p> <h2>4. Encourage the animals that eat mosquitoes</h2> <p>Mosquitoes are food for a range of animals including birds, bats, fish, frogs, lizards, insects, spiders and <a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2656.13965">dragonflies</a>. But don’t expect them to eat enough to keep all mosquitoes away.</p> <p>Bats are often promoted as a good “biological control” options but studies have shown mosquitoes are <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0077183">more likely to be a snack food</a> for small bats, not an irresistible staple of their diet.</p> <p>For garden ponds, frogs will eat a few adult mosquitoes but tadpoles of Australian frogs generally <a href="https://bioone.org/journals/journal-of-the-american-mosquito-control-association/volume-21/issue-4/8756-971X(2006)21%5b492%3aTOFCAF%5d2.0.CO%3b2/TADPOLES-OF-FOUR-COMMON-AUSTRALIAN-FROGS-ARE-NOT-EFFECTIVE-PREDATORS/10.2987/8756-971X(2006)21%5B492:TOFCAF%5D2.0.CO;2.short">don’t eat many mosquito “wrigglers”</a>.</p> <p>Australian native fish <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15532929/">will readily eat mosquitoes</a> and may be useful for backyard ponds.</p> <p>But not all fish are good. While “mosquitofish” (aka “plague minnow”) is distributed overseas to assist in mosquito control, <a href="https://meridian.allenpress.com/australian-zoologist/article/30/3/316/134508/Does-predation-by-the-fish-Gambusia-holbrooki">it’s a disaster for local wildlife</a> and, <a href="https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aquatic-biosecurity/pests-diseases/freshwater-pests/finfish-species/gambusia">along with other exotic fish species</a>, should not be released into local waterways.</p> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13157-019-01133-2">Healthier habitats promote fewer mosquitoes</a> so the best thing you can do is create habitats for the animals that eat mosquitoes.</p> <h2>5. Avoid traps and other gadgets</h2> <p>There are lots of devices purported to catch, kill, or repel mosquitoes from your garden. Some may catch a mosquito or two but they’re not very effective in knocking out big numbers.</p> <p>“Bug zappers” with bright lights will collect lots of flying insects. It’s just that mosquitoes make up a very small proportion of collections.</p> <p>Electrocuting devices, again, don’t seem to attract a lot of mosquitoes.</p> <p>Devices that <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buzz-from-your-smartphone-wont-stop-mosquito-bites-92611">emit high frequency sounds</a> won’t help either.</p> <p>The best devices are typically those that are baited with carbon dioxide. These are a mainstay of state and territory <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/mosquito-borne/Pages/surveillance.aspx">mosquito and arbovirus surveillance programs</a>. For a mosquito, the C0₂ tricks them into thinking the trap is a warm-blooded animal. The only problem is these can be expensive to run and don’t seem quite as effective for mosquito control <a href="https://bioone.org/journals/journal-of-the-american-mosquito-control-association/volume-22/issue-3/8756-971X(2006)22%5b490%3aTATTFA%5d2.0.CO%3b2/Traps-and-Trapping-Techniques-for-Adult-Mosquito-Control/10.2987/8756-971X(2006)22%5B490:TATTFA%5D2.0.CO;2.short">unless used in large numbers</a>.</p> <h2>Yes, you’ll still need repellent</h2> <p>Perhaps the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to pick an insect repellent <a href="https://www.phrp.com.au/issues/december-2016-volume-26-issue-5/a-review-of-recommendations-on-the-safe-and-effective-use-of-topical-mosquito-repellents/">recommended by health authorities</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/mozzies-biting-heres-how-to-choose-a-repellent-and-how-to-use-it-for-the-best-protection-150183">apply it</a> to ensure all exposed areas of skin are covered. These products and safe, affordable and effective.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212711/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cameron-webb-6736"><em>Cameron Webb</em></a><em>, Clinical Associate Professor and Principal Hospital Scientist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-warming-up-and-mozzies-are-coming-heres-how-to-mosquito-proof-your-backyard-212711">original article</a>.</em></p>

Home & Garden

Placeholder Content Image

10 driving tips to stay safe in wet weather

<p><strong>Driving in the rain? Follow these tips for safe driving in wet weather </strong></p> <p>This should go without saying, but reducing your speed – as long as you continue to keep with the flow of traffic, of course – is imperative when driving in the rain.</p> <p>After all, between the downpour and spray from other vehicles, heavy rain reduces visibility in all directions, and you need more time to react.</p> <p><strong>Keep your distance </strong></p> <p>Driving in the rain can be hazardous, and if ever there is an incident that requires you – or the driver in front you – to brake unexpectedly, you’ll want to have ample stopping distance on wet roads.</p> <p><strong>Avoid heavy breaking </strong></p> <p>While driving in the rain, you may find yourself in situations – whether you’re hydroplaning or finding yourself in a skid – that will tempt you to hit the brakes abruptly. Do your best to curb that impulse.</p> <p>Brakes can be affected greatly by water, losing a bit of their power when wet, which can be disastrous in an emergency. Easing off the brakes, slowing down and maintaining control of your vehicle is your best bet.</p> <p><strong>Keep both hands on the wheel </strong></p> <p>Control is of utmost importance when driving in the rain. After all, you need to be in command of your vehicle should an incident occur, and having both hands on the wheel while driving in the rain (no snacking or fiddling with the radio!) will ensure you can get out of a sticky situation quickly and efficiently.</p> <p><strong>Keep windows from fogging up</strong></p> <p>When driving in rain, windows tend to fog up as a result of the difference in temperatures inside and outside the car and can lead to decreased visibility. To stay safe and avoid accidents, simply press your car’s defrost button to clear-up the window.</p> <p>Turn on your A/C or roll down the windows by a couple of centimetres to remove the humidity from the vehicle and lower the temperature inside the car. If the issue persists, you may want to purchase a windshield cleaner and defogger.</p> <p><strong>Beware of hydroplaning </strong></p> <p>Hydroplaning happens when your car travels above the water without touching the ground. Given that a driver is left with little-to-no grip with the road and, thus, less control, this can be a dangerous set of circumstances. If you find yourself in such a situation, stay calm, ease off the brakes and do not turn your steering wheel; let your car slow down and the tires reattach to the road surface.</p> <p><strong>Avoid puddles</strong></p> <p>Windshield wipers should always be in working condition. Be vigilant about replacing them once per year, or whenever they start to leave streaks on the glass. Having wipers blades in tip-top shape ensures the best possible visibility when driving in the rain.</p> <p><strong>Stay home if you can </strong></p> <p>If you have no choice but to head outside during a heavy downpour, be sure to follow these driving tips. However, if you don’t have anywhere pressing to be, consider staying home and waiting it out until the storm subsides.</p> <p><strong>Keep your headlights on</strong></p> <p>With wet weather often comes fog and overall gloominess. With your surroundings slightly darkened, turning on your headlights ensures that you can see the road in front of you, and that other drivers can see you.</p> <p><strong>Ensure windshield wipers are in working order</strong></p> <p>Windshield wipers should always be in working condition. Be vigilant about replacing them once per year, or whenever they start to leave streaks on the glass. Having wipers blades in tip-top shape ensures the best possible visibility when driving in the rain.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-driving-tips-to-stay-safe-in-wet-weather" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Travel Tips

Placeholder Content Image

How climate change will affect your pet – and how to help them cope

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/edward-narayan-414899">Edward Narayan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Earth has just experienced its <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/jul/27/scientists-july-world-hottest-month-record-climate-temperatures">hottest month</a> since records began and Australia is now gearing up for an El Niño-fuelled summer. Extreme heat isn’t just challenging for humans – it brings suffering to our beloved pets, too.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/10.1079/cabireviews.2023.0020">Research</a> I was involved in examined how climate change affects the welfare of animals, including pets. My colleagues and I used a concept for assessing animal welfare known as the “<a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-are-the-five-domains-and-how-do-they-differ-from-the-five-freedoms/">five-domains model</a>”. It’s a science-based structure for examining an animal’s:</p> <ul> <li>nutrition</li> <li>environment</li> <li>physical health</li> <li>behaviour</li> <li>mental state.</li> </ul> <p>The model evaluates the complete physiological and behavioural responses of animals to environmental stressors. While the effects of climate change on animals have been studied before, ours is the first study to apply the model to animal welfare specifically.</p> <p>We examined the academic literature and found climate change will harm animals across all five welfare domains. This applies to both wild and domesticated animals, including pets. So let’s take a look at how various types of pets will fare in a warming world – and how we can help them.</p> <h2>Fish</h2> <p>Fish are “ectotherms” – that is, they use external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. So pet fish are vulnerable to changes in the water temperature of your home aquarium, which may occur during a heatwave.</p> <p>Extreme water temperatures can cause physical harm to fish. For example, it can increase a fish’s metabolic rate – meaning it <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/feeling-the-heat-warming-oceans-drive-fish-into-cooler-waters">needs more oxygen</a> to breathe . It can also <a href="https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/ON/article/view/4331">cause changes</a> such as slowed growth and reduced feeding.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/other-pets/caring-for-your-pet-fish">official advice</a>, water in an indoor aquarium should generally be kept at between 20℃ and 25℃ (unless you are keeping tropical fish).</p> <p>Depending on your budget and aquarium size, you could opt to use a device to control the water temperature. Either way, it’s important to monitor the water temperature regularly.</p> <p>Also make sure the aquarium isn’t located near a window where it’s exposed to direct sunlight.</p> <p>Leaving your aquarium unattended for days or weeks in summer can be dangerous, due to the risk of heatwaves. If you’re going on a summer holiday, consider organising a <a href="https://www.thesprucepets.com/holiday-and-vacation-fish-care-and-feeding-1378525#:%7E:text=If%20you%20are%20going%20on,aquarium%20and%20can%20prove%20lethal">fish sitter</a> to check on the animal regularly.</p> <h2>Birds</h2> <p>Heat stress can change the <a href="https://www.vetexotic.theclinics.com/article/S1094-9194(16)00003-7/fulltext">physiology</a> of birds. For example, research into a wild population of small Australian robins showed during a heatwave, the birds <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jav.02355">lost body mass</a> and abandoned their nests, and some died.</p> <p>Heat stress can also cause <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327604jaws0101_5">abnormal behaviour in pet birds</a> such as <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1828051X.2016.1195711?src=recsys">feather picking</a>, when one bird repeatedly pecks at the feathers of another.</p> <p>In hot weather, regularly check your bird’s cage to make sure it’s clean and stocked with food and water. If the bird is in an outdoor cage or aviary, ensure it is shaded. And a shallow bird bath will help your feathered friend cool off.</p> <h2>Dogs</h2> <p>Dogs and cats can suffer on hot days. That’s especially true if they are:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.ejmanager.com/mnstemps/100/100-1626960667.pdf?t=1657722662">older or overweight</a></li> <li>have thick coats</li> <li>have short snouts/flat faces (which restricts air flow and makes it harder for them to cool down).</li> </ul> <p>Heat stress can cause <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2021.742926/full?&amp;utm_source=Email_to_ae_&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_content=T1_11.5e2_editor&amp;utm_campaign=Email_publication&amp;journalName=Frontiers_in_Veterinary_Science&amp;id=742926">canine hyperthermia</a>, which means the dog’s body temperature becomes dangerously hot.</p> <p>Watch for <a href="https://www.rvc.ac.uk/small-animal-vet/teaching-and-research/fact-files/heatstroke-in-dogs-and-cats#:%7E:text=Early%20signs%20of%20heatstroke%20in%20pet%20animals&amp;text=Panting%2C%20this%20can%20progress%20to,Red%20gums%20or%20tongue">early warning signs</a> of heat stress such as excessive panting and erratic movements. These symptoms can quickly escalate, leading to heat stroke and possible death.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34828033/">More than 80%</a> of dog owners report exercising their dogs less vigorously, or for shorter periods, during hot weather. That can help avoid heat-related illness. But don’t reduce your dog’s activity levels too much, as that may lead to other health problems. Just time the walks to avoid the heat of the day.</p> <p>Refrain from leaving dogs unattended in vehicles, because they can easily overheat. In fact, it’s better to leave your dog inside home on a hot day, as long as they have a cool place to rest and plenty of water – perhaps even with ice cubes in it. And dogs love to cool off in a kiddie pool or under a sprinkler.</p> <p>If you take your dog out on a hot day, <a href="https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/dogs/health/heat-and-pets#:%7E:text=Be%20aware%20of%20the%20signs,not%20icy%20water%20and%20fanned">carry</a> a container of fresh, cool water for them. And don’t forget to slip-slop-slap: apply a sparing amount of pet sunscreen to your dogs’ exposed pink skin such as ear tips and nose.</p> <h2>Cats</h2> <p>Like other animals, cats can overheat in hot weather. Symptoms include panting heavily, drooling and a rapid pulse. Like with other animals, if you suspect your cat is suffering from heatstroke, call a vet immediately.</p> <p>Climate change and associated heat and floods is likely to aid the spread of parasites and illness <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2022/12/31/guess-whos-loving-climate-change-mosquitos-and-the-pathogens-they-carry/?sh=50654683174a">including</a> tick-borne diseases, <a href="https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/70213352">flea</a> infestations and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32145530/">heartworm</a>. This puts both cats and dogs at risk.</p> <p>In hot weather, the advice for cat owners is similar to that of dog owners: ensure your cat has plenty of shade and water, and put pet sunscreen on their ear tips and noses, especially if the cat is white.</p> <p>If possible, keep the cat inside during the hottest part of the day. Ensure at least one room is cool and ventilated. And in a heatwave, play with your cat either in the early morning or evening, when the temperature has cooled.</p> <h2>A helping human hand</h2> <p>While humans have the capacity to understand and prepare for climate change, pets will need our help to cope. This includes not just the pets listed above, but others too, including reptiles, guinea pigs and rabbits.</p> <p>As heatwaves and other extreme weather events become more common, the onus is on us to keep our pets safe.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210724/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/edward-narayan-414899">Edward Narayan</a>, Senior Lecturer in Animal Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-climate-change-will-affect-your-pet-and-how-to-help-them-cope-210724">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Why is Australia having such a warm winter? A climate expert explains

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-king-103126">Andrew King</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>If you’ve been out and about the past few days, you may have noticed Australia is experiencing an unseasonably warm winter. It’s been t-shirt weather across many parts of the country’s east, including Sydney where <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jun/08/australia-ski-season-no-snow-skiing-snowboarding-resorts-closed-warm-weather">temperatures topped 25℃</a> on Sunday.</p> <p>Meanwhile, at high altitudes, the cover at some snowfields remains <a href="https://twitter.com/Cam_Walker/status/1685525535521402880">lacklustre</a>, even after warm conditions forced <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-09/nsw-resorts-postpone-ski-snowboarding-kings-birthday-lack-snow/102456510">a delay</a> to the start of the traditional ski season.</p> <p>All this comes after the world experienced its hottest month since reliable records began. July brought <a href="https://qz.com/hottest-days-month-ever-recorded-july-2023-1850685494">an incredible 21 of the warmest 30 days</a> ever recorded – prompting the United Nations to declare a new era of “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/jul/27/scientists-july-world-hottest-month-record-climate-temperatures">global boiling</a>”.</p> <p>So what’s going on with the weather in Australia? Should we just enjoy the pleasant conditions, or is it a troubling sign of what’s to come under climate change?</p> <h2>The nice weather, explained</h2> <p>Australia’s unseasonably warm conditions are the result of both natural drivers of our weather and continued global warming.</p> <p>Since early July, warmer and drier conditions have dominated, due to a high pressure system sitting stubbornly over Australia at the moment. The clear conditions are leading to warmer daytime conditions.</p> <p>For example, daytime temperatures in Canberra in July – historically known for its cold winters – were <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/canberra-on-track-for-warmest-july-max-temps-on-record/1d0b9683-7dda-4cc0-b6a6-1e32bfa51407">the warmest on record</a>, despite frequent frosty mornings. Sydney has just experienced its <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jul/31/australia-weather-august-warmth-heat-winds-tasmania#:%7E:text=Sydney%27s%2023.5C%20was%20enough,Hill%20goes%20back%20to%201858.">warmest July</a> on record, too.</p> <p>The high pressure has caused the air over the continent’s interior to warm. When cold fronts move across the south of Australia they push this warm air ahead of them, bringing warm and windy conditions to southern coastal areas. This is similar to the weather pattern we see in summer when cities such as Adelaide and Melbourne experience their hottest days.</p> <p>On Thursday, an approaching cold front is forecast to lift temperatures ahead of it to about 23℃ in Adelaide, 20℃ in Melbourne and 18℃ in Hobart. These are very warm temperatures in these locations for early August.</p> <p>And what about the oceans? Around Australia, oceans are a bit cooler than average in some places including <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDYOC053.Global.SSTAnomaly.shtml">to the northwest of the continent</a>.</p> <p>But as the image below shows, ocean temperatures are currently above normal in many places around the world, including the west Indian Ocean and the central and eastern tropical Pacific. This indicates a developing El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole – two natural climate drivers that affect Australia’s weather patterns.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=364&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=364&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=364&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=458&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=458&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540054/original/file-20230730-191965-434fnd.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=458&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Across most of the world’s oceans, temperatures remain well above normal.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>This difference in ocean temperatures reduces the amount of atmospheric moisture over southern and eastern Australia. It also makes low pressure systems weaker and less frequent, reducing rainfall over the region.</p> <p>Over the coming months, warm and dry weather is expected to continue. For the rest of winter and spring, it’s expected to be <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/rainfall/summary">drier than normal</a> in the southwest of Western Australia and much of the east of the continent. And the whole of Australia is predicted to be <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/temperature/summary">warmer than normal</a> during this period. Of course, this doesn’t rule out occasional cool, wet spells.</p> <p>So is climate change a factor here? Yes. Australia’s land areas have <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/factsheets/IPCC_AR6_WGI_Regional_Fact_Sheet_Australasia.pdf">already warmed by 1.4℃</a> since pre-industrial times. This is the result of humans burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases.</p> <p>The record winter warmth is part of a <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-record-breaking-winter-warmth-linked-to-climate-change-83304">long-term upward trend</a> in Australian winter temperatures.</p> <p>As I’ve written <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-record-breaking-winter-warmth-linked-to-climate-change-83304">previously</a>, there has been at least a 60-fold increase in the likelihood of a very warm winter that can be attributed to human-caused climate change.</p> <p>And we’re likely to see more record warm winters as the planet continues to warm.</p> <h2>Looking north</h2> <p>Of course, Australia’s spell of warm weather seems harmless compared to the Northern Hemisphere’s weird and wild summer.</p> <p>There, simultaneous extreme heatwaves have struck all four continents in recent weeks. Ocean temperatures are well <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2023/07/28/ocean-temperature-maps-heat-records/">above previous record highs</a> for this time of year. Last week, <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2023/07/25/weather/canadian-wildfire-us-air-pollution/index.html">1,000 wildfires burned</a> in Canada alone.</p> <p>The planet’s warmest average temperatures typically happen in July. That’s because the Northern Hemisphere’s large land masses heat up more quickly than the oceans, in response to the high amounts of radiation from the sun. Still, the heat of the last few weeks has been unprecedented.</p> <p>The heatwaves are <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-climate-expert-explains-the-northern-hemispheres-weird-wild-summer-and-what-it-means-for-australia-209862">linked to</a> high-pressure weather systems that are “blocking” or deflecting oncoming low-pressure systems (and associated clouds and rain). On top of this, human-caused global warming is greatly increasing the chance of record-breaking extreme heat events and concurrent heatwaves across many regions.</p> <p>Worryingly, a <a href="https://www.worldweatherattribution.org/extreme-heat-in-north-america-europe-and-china-in-july-2023-made-much-more-likely-by-climate-change/">rapid analysis</a> by international experts suggests the extreme heat should not be viewed as unusual, given the effects of climate change. For example, it says China’s recent <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/china-logs-52-2-celsius-as-extreme-weather-rewrites-records-20230718-p5dp1v.html">record-breaking heatwave</a> should now be expected about once in every five years, on average.</p> <p>Not all extreme weather events can be attributed to human-caused climate change. But the study found climate change significantly contributed to the recent heatwaves in China, North America and Europe.</p> <h2>A sign of what’s to come</h2> <p>The Northern Hemisphere’s heatwaves are very alarming. But Australia’s temperatures are also unusually high for winter – and this is also cause for concern.</p> <p>Warm winters in Australia can negatively affect some parts of the economy, including the ski industry. It also disrupts flora and fauna and increases the chance of “<a href="https://theconversation.com/flash-droughts-can-dry-out-soil-in-weeks-new-research-shows-what-they-look-like-in-australia-161286">flash droughts</a>” – where drier-than-normal conditions turn into severe drought in the space of weeks.</p> <p>The warm, dry conditions may also lead to an <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/aug/15/sydneys-bushfire-season-starts-in-winter-we-may-have-to-rethink-how-we-live">earlier start</a> to the fire season in Australia’s southeast.</p> <p>So while we may appreciate warm winter weather, we mustn’t forget what’s driving it – and how urgently we need to stabilise Earth’s climate by slashing greenhouse gas emissions.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210693/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-king-103126">Andrew King</a>, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-is-australia-having-such-a-warm-winter-a-climate-expert-explains-210693">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Extreme weather events are exactly the time to talk about climate change – here’s why

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/josh-ettinger-1302389">Josh Ettinger</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-oxford-1260">University of Oxford</a></em></p> <p>Record-breaking heatwaves are <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/simultaneous-heatwaves-hit-northern-hemisphere-summer-of-extremes">sweeping across the northern hemisphere</a>, affecting large parts of southern Europe, the US and China. On July 24, Sicily recorded blistering temperatures <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-66302472">of more than 47.5℃</a> and wildfires are currently <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/25/how-bad-are-wildfires-in-greece-what-caused-them-visual-guide-heatwave">tearing through Greece</a>. The heatwaves come as <a href="https://www.reuters.com/graphics/CANADA-WILDFIRE/HISTORIC/znvnzebmavl/">record numbers of fires continue to burn</a> across Canada.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-66289489">study by the World Weather Attribution group</a> found that these heatwaves would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change. In fact, the heatwave that is affecting parts of China was made 50 times more likely by global warming. This is exactly what climate scientists have been warning us about for decades – climate change makes many types of extreme weather event <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-what-the-new-ipcc-report-says-about-extreme-weather-and-climate-change/">more likely, more intense and longer lasting</a>.</p> <p>As a PhD researcher examining extreme weather events and climate change communication, I have spent the past four years exploring how extreme weather events may affect the way the public feels, thinks and acts on climate change.</p> <p>One area of interest to researchers is how extreme weather events might reduce the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494422000676">“psychological distance”</a> associated with climate change. While climate change can feel abstract and vague, extreme weather is something people can experience firsthand.</p> <p>But <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab466a/meta">research offers contrasting results</a>. Some studies have found that extreme weather events lead to an <a href="https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1017/S0022381612000448?casa_token=dTns6Kvds1AAAAAA%3AkQcleVJ95vJUyh5Pg2vxvFEDbzfR1RsuOI131QCMO0wvdtIiLSVEq4EW6fZYwC7Yhraxj-NB9g">increased belief</a> that human-driven climate change is occurring and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-016-1837-4">greater support for climate action</a>. Others <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-021-03176-z">find no effects</a> or suggest that these effects are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959378017309135?via%3Dihub">only temporary</a>.</p> <p>However, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-32412-y">we often underestimate</a> how much the public already cares about climate change. In Britain, <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1164127/desnz-pat-spring-2023-net-zero-and-climate-change.pdf">just 4% of the public</a> say they are not at all concerned about climate change, while only <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/about/projects/global-warmings-six-americas/">11% of Americans</a> dismiss the issue.</p> <p>Given that <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2019/04/18/a-look-at-how-people-around-the-world-view-climate-change/">most people</a> are already concerned about climate change, an important question now is how to shift these existing concerns into action.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-talk-to-your-family-and-friends-about-the-new-ipcc-report-five-tips-from-climate-change-communication-research-202306">Talking about climate change</a> is a powerful way of mobilising climate action, and extreme weather events provide helpful climate conversation starters. We can use these moments as opportunities to <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/20563051231177930">engage our families, friends and communities</a> in discussions about how climate change may relate to these events and <a href="https://drawdown.org/solutions">what we can do about it</a>.</p> <p>So, if you decide to engage people you know in discussions about extreme weather and climate change, here are a few thoughts and guidelines to keep in mind.</p> <h2>1. Listen and share perspectives</h2> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0887618520300773">Extreme weather events can be traumatic</a> and climate change can evoke a wide range of emotional responses. If the person you are talking to is comfortable discussing the topic, ask them about their experiences and observations.</p> <p>Encourage them to tell stories and affirm the validity of their emotional response – whether they are afraid, angry, hopeful or worried. There is no one right way to feel about climate change, so listen to what they have to say and then share your own perspective too.</p> <h2>2. Talk about planning and preparation</h2> <p>When discussing extreme weather events, some people may link their experiences to climate change, while others focus on various local factors that contribute to extreme weather risks.</p> <p>The risks associated with extreme weather arise from a <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/chapter/summary-for-policymakers/">combination</a> of factors. These include the weather itself, which can be influenced by climate change, the level of exposure of people and places to extreme weather and the vulnerability of those to harm.</p> <p>Climate change, for instance, can affect the frequency, intensity and duration of wildfires. But emergency responses, evacuation procedures, firefighting and healthcare systems are crucially important to reduce risks. There are also significant equity and justice implications of extreme weather as different populations are <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41885-020-00060-5">affected disproportionally</a>.</p> <p>It’s also important to bear in mind that while climate change affects many extreme weather events, it <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/climate-change-not-the-main-driver-of-madagascar-food-crisis-scientists-find/">does not necessarily affect every instance</a>. Weather systems are complex and there are <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-climate-change-isnt-always-to-blame-for-extreme-rainfall-206958">meteorological processes</a> that scientists are still trying to understand.</p> <p>We also need to make sure the roles of local planning and preparation in minimising the impact of these events are not overlooked.</p> <h2>3. Challenge arguments about politicising the weather</h2> <p>In May 2023, Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, dismissed concerns about global warming by claiming that he rejects the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/desantis-climate-change-fox-news-b2346211.html">“politicisation of the weather”</a>. Ontario premier, Doug Ford, recently <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-climate-change-forest-fires-politics-ford-stiles-1.6869071">made a similar argument</a> about Canada’s wildfires.</p> <p>In conversations, it’s possible that someone might accuse you too of “politicising” the weather. You can (respectfully) push back against this claim.</p> <p>This argument is a <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/global-sustainability/article/discourses-of-climate-delay/7B11B722E3E3454BB6212378E32985A7">discourse of climate delay</a>. Rather than denying the existence of human-driven climate change, climate delay discourses try to shut down climate discussions and cast doubt on the need to act very quickly. These arguments disingenuously assert that acting on climate is too expensive, too late or that someone else should take care of it – and they are <a href="https://theconversation.com/climate-change-multi-country-media-analysis-shows-scepticism-of-the-basic-science-is-dying-out-198303">becoming increasingly common</a>.</p> <p>If we shouldn’t discuss climate change when extreme weather occurs, then when is the right time? If we want to protect lives, we need to talk about – and act upon – the risks associated with extreme weather events and the disasters they can cause.</p> <p>If talking about climate change politicises the weather, so be it. The politics of climate denial and delay affected this summer’s weather, and our current decisions will shape our planet for thousands of years.</p> <p>The science is clear. Act now or face increasingly dire consequences.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210412/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/josh-ettinger-1302389">Josh Ettinger</a>, Doctoral researcher, School of Geography and the Environment, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-oxford-1260">University of Oxford</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/extreme-weather-events-are-exactly-the-time-to-talk-about-climate-change-heres-why-210412">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Why is it so damn cold right now? A weather researcher explains

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tess-parker-111039">Tess Parker</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>If you woke up this morning and thought “Gosh, it’s a bit brisk!”, you’re not alone.</p> <p>Temperatures plummeted across southeast Australia this week, with Weatherzone <a href="https://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/coldest-morning-in-5-years-for-parts-of-nsw-qld-act/1342232">reporting</a> Canberra’s low of -7.2ºC was “its lowest temperature since 2018 and the lowest for June since 1986.”</p> <p>Sydney experienced its <a href="https://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/coldest-morning-in-5-years-for-parts-of-nsw-qld-act/1342232">coldest June morning</a> today since 2010, with a temperature of 5.2ºC. In Victoria, temperatures of -7.2ºC were <a href="https://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/coldest-morning-in-5-years-for-parts-of-nsw-qld-act/1342232">recorded</a>.</p> <p>So what’s going on? Here’s what you need to know.</p> <h2>A big pool of Antarctic air</h2> <p>It started off at the beginning of the week, when a low-pressure system saw a big cold front come through southeastern Australia on Sunday night. This basically means a lot of very cold air came from higher latitudes close to Antarctica, and swept across southeastern Australia.</p> <p>So everywhere from Melbourne to Sydney to South Australia was getting this big pool of incredibly cold air at the start of the week.</p> <p>Even though that cold front has now moved off over the Tasman Sea, it has left behind it a really big high-pressure system sitting over the southeast of Australia.</p> <p>This has led to calm conditions, where winds are very light and the skies are clear with not a lot of cloud during the day or night.</p> <p>So it’s getting really, really cold in the early mornings because there are no clouds to act as an insulating blanket for the Earth and trap the heat that the planet radiates to space overnight.</p> <p>The result, in many places, has been very cold temperatures before sunrise, often with a lot of frost.</p> <h2>Remind me, what’s a low-pressure system? And what’s a high-pressure system?</h2> <p>The air above the Earth’s surface has mass, but it’s not uniform everywhere. The way the atmosphere is moved around by what’s going on at upper levels will mean the mass of the atmosphere is redistributed. That transmits down to the surface where we live and causes low- and high-pressure systems.</p> <p>At some points the pressure is lower because there’s not as much mass of air above that point over the Earth. This is what we call a low-pressure system. Air rises in a low, reducing the pressure at the surface.</p> <p>The winds around the low are clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. So when that low is approaching Australia, the winds on the western side are bringing air from near Antarctica. That’s why a low-pressure system in Australia often means cooler conditions.</p> <p>At some points above the Earth, the pressure is higher because the mass of air above that area is greater. This is what we call a high-pressure system. Air descends in a high, raising the surface pressure.</p> <p>High-pressure systems tend to mean very calm weather; the wind isn’t very strong, the skies tend to be clear and there’s little to no cloud.</p> <p>In summer, that means the sun is baking down all day onto Earth with no protection from cloud. So a high-pressure system in summer can mean a heatwave.</p> <p>In winter, the lack of cloud in a high-pressure system means that much of the heat the Earth has absorbed during the day just re-radiates out to space again, as the cloud isn’t there to act as a blanket and keep all that heat in.</p> <p>That’s why a high-pressure system can mean very cold weather in winter, especially when there are lower levels of sunlight coming in to warm up the Earth in the first place.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208182/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tess-parker-111039">Tess Parker</a>, Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-is-it-so-damn-cold-right-now-a-weather-researcher-explains-208182">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Sore joints now it’s getting cold? It’s tempting to be less active – but doing more could help you feel better

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charlotte-ganderton-1170940">Charlotte Ganderton</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/inge-gnatt-1425767">Inge Gnatt</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-king-1177304">Matthew King</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-musculoskeletal-conditions#:%7E:text=In%20Australia%3A,stiff%2C%20painful%2C%20swollen%20or%20deformed">One in three</a> Australians has a musculoskeletal condition involving joint pain, and the most common cause is arthritis. Around <a href="https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/1in7witharthritis/">3.6 million</a> Australians have arthritis and this is projected to rise to <a href="https://www.arthritiswa.org.au/arthritis/australians-in-the-dark-with-arthritis-one-of-our-most-prevalent-and-costly-diseases/#:%7E:text=Arthritis%20is%20a%20leading%20cause,to%205.4%20million%20by%202030">5.4 million by 2030</a>.</p> <p>For some people with joint pain, cold weather <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-15-66">seems to make it worse</a>. But temperature <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3959(99)00010-X">is just one factor</a> impacting perceptions of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001776">greater pain</a> during winter. Other factors include those we have some level of influence over, including <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00702-019-02067-z">sleep</a>, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00702-019-02067-z">behavioural patterns, mood</a> and <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1038/s41598-019-44664-8.pdf">physical activity</a>. Emerging research suggests greater pain levels in winter may also be related to a person’s <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0216902">perception of the weather</a>, lack of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2010.05.030">vitamin D</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kel414">fluctuations in their disease</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">Physical activity</a> is one of the best treatments to increase function, strength and mobility – and improve quality of life. It also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">promotes</a> mental and physical health and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1466853X21000304?via%3Dihub">reduces the risk</a> of other chronic diseases.</p> <p>But pain can be a barrier to exercise and activities you’d usually do. So what can you do about it?</p> <h2>Our brain tries to protect us</h2> <p>When it comes to pain, our brain is very protective: it’s like an inbuilt alarm system and can warn us about impending danger or harm that has occurred so we can respond.</p> <p>But it’s not always a reliable indicator of actual damage or trauma to the skin, muscle or bone, even when it feels like it is. In some instances, this warning system can become unhelpful by setting off “false alarms”.</p> <p>Joint pain and stiffness can also appear to worsen during colder weather, prompting <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/26335565221100172">fears</a> we could <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jor.25151">make it worse</a> if we undertake or overdo movement. This <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbspin.2017.07.007">can result in</a> people avoiding physical activity – even when it would be beneficial – which can worsen the pain.</p> <h2>We tend to exercise less when it’s cold</h2> <p>Seasons <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2016.07.007">affect</a> how much physical activity we get. Summer months bring warmer weather, longer daylight hours and people get outdoors more. Warmer weather also tends to elicit a positive outlook, a lift in mood and burst of physical activity to fulfil New Year’s resolutions.</p> <p>Cooler months can mean a decline in physical activity and more time being cosy indoors. A reduction in movement and less exposure to light may evoke higher levels of joint pain and can be associated with a reduction in our overall sense of well-being and mood.</p> <p>This can create a cycle where symptoms worsen over time.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Older woman exercises with weights" /><figcaption></figcaption>But with the right knowledge and support, people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2022.2126473">can remain engaged in an active lifestyle</a> especially when it’s aligned to personal values and goals. Health professionals such as physiotherapists and GPs can assess any concerns and provide strategies that are right for you.</figure> <h2>How to motivate yourself to stay active in winter</h2> <p>When looking for an approach to help you stay active during the cooler months and beyond, it can be helpful to become aware of the many <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">interconnected factors</a> that impact you. They include:</p> <ul> <li>biological (your genes, other illnesses you have)</li> <li>psychological (how you think, feel and behave)</li> <li>social (your relationships and social support).</li> </ul> <p>Starting with the end goal in mind can be beneficial, but this can feel overwhelming. Try creating smaller, achievable steps to help get you there, like climbing a ladder. For example, park a short distance from the shops and increase this incrementally to increase your exercise tolerance.</p> <p>A little bit each day can often be less tolling on your body than a big effort once a week.</p> <p>Create goals that are personally meaningful and encourage you to celebrate success along the way (for example, catching up with friends or a healthy snack). Then, as you climb your “ladder”, one rung at a time, you will likely feel more motivated to continue.</p> <p>If you’re not sure where to start, talk to a friend or health provider to help you determine what is realistic and right for your situation. That way you can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">work towards your goals in a safe, non-threatening environment</a> and avoid developing fear and avoidance. They can also help you establish goals that align with your aspirations and pain experience.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/200911/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charlotte-ganderton-1170940">Charlotte Ganderton</a>, Senior Lecturer (Physiotherapy), <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/inge-gnatt-1425767">Inge Gnatt</a>, Lecturer (Psychology), Provisional Psychologist, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-king-1177304">Matthew King</a>, Lecturer, Research Fellow, and Physiotherapist, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/sore-joints-now-its-getting-cold-its-tempting-to-be-less-active-but-doing-more-could-help-you-feel-better-200911">original article</a>.</p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

An El Niño looms over Australia’s stressed electricity system – and we must plan for the worst

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dylan-mcconnell-1602">Dylan McConnell</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/iain-macgill-576">Iain MacGill</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology this week declared a 70% chance of an <a href="https://media.bom.gov.au/releases/1170/the-bureau-of-meteorology-issues-an-el-nino-alert/">El Niño</a> developing this year. It’s bad timing for the electricity sector, and means Australians may face supply disruptions and volatile prices.</p> <p><a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a008-el-nino-and-australia.shtml">El Niño events</a> are <a href="https://theconversation.com/from-floods-to-fire-a-climate-scientist-on-the-chances-el-nino-will-hit-australia-this-year-197408">associated with</a> increased temperatures and heatwaves. These conditions drive demand for electricity, especially in summer.</p> <p>These same conditions can also mean some generators don’t produce at full capacity. And unfortunately, the likely El Niño comes as the electricity sector grapples with other significant headwinds.</p> <p>Australia’s electricity grid may be fine this summer. But given what’s on the horizon, it would be prudent to plan for the worst.</p> <h2>How does hot weather affect energy supplies?</h2> <p>Increased air conditioning use in summer can cause <a href="https://aemo.com.au/-/media/files/electricity/nem/planning_and_forecasting/nem_esoo/2022/forecasting-approach-electricity-demand-forecasting-methodology.pdf">demand to peak</a>, particularly during heatwaves, as the below graph shows.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530604/original/file-20230607-27-m1kddg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530604/original/file-20230607-27-m1kddg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=208&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530604/original/file-20230607-27-m1kddg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=208&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530604/original/file-20230607-27-m1kddg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=208&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530604/original/file-20230607-27-m1kddg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=262&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530604/original/file-20230607-27-m1kddg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=262&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530604/original/file-20230607-27-m1kddg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=262&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Scatterplot of New South Wales demand and temperature, example based on 2017 calendar year" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Scatterplot of New South Wales demand and temperature, example based on 2017 calendar year.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">AEMO</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>At the same time, electricity generators – including coal, gas, <a href="https://www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au/en/projects/esci/esci-case-studies/case-study-heat/">solar and wind</a> – can become less efficient in hot temperatures, and so provide less energy to the system. And the hotter transmission lines get, the less electrical current they can safely carry. This lowers their capacity to transport energy.</p> <p>When the electricity grid is under stress, this can lead to “load shedding” or blackouts – when power companies deliberately switch off the power supply to groups of customers to prevent the overall system from becoming dangerously unstable.</p> <p>This happened in Victoria in early 2019, when more than <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-26/victorian-blackouts-what-caused-them-and-is-this-the-new-normal/10751412">200,000 customers</a> lost power during a period of extreme heat.</p> <p>El Niño events are also associated with reduced rainfall. Among other effects on the electricity grid, this can reduce output from hydroelectricity generators (which produce electricity by pumping water through turbines). This <a href="https://theconversation.com/praying-for-rain-50085">occurred</a> in Tasmania in 2016, and contributed to an energy crisis in that state.</p> <h2>Other headwinds are blowing</h2> <p>Aside from facing a likely El Niño, the electricity sector faces other headaches.</p> <p>Earlier this year, the Australian Energy Market Operator <a href="https://aemo.com.au/newsroom/media-release/aemo-issues-nem-reliability-update">warned</a> electricity demand “may exceed supply” at times over the next decade due to factors such as weather conditions or generator outages.</p> <p>The market operator pointed to delays to the Snowy 2.0 hydro project and the gas-fired <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/energy/new-snowy-ceo-can-t-rule-out-further-delays-at-projects-20230213-p5cjzr">Kurri Kurri Power Station</a>, both in New South Wales.</p> <p>The Kurri Kurri project has been delayed for a year. It was scheduled to begin operating in December this year – in time for the first summer since the Liddell coal-fired power station closed.</p> <p>The Australian Energy Market Operator said the electricity system was expected to meet the “reliability standard” in all regions for the next five years. The <a href="https://www.aemc.gov.au/energy-system/electricity/electricity-system/reliability#:%7E:text=What%20is%20the%20Reliability%20Standard,to%20be%20met%20each%20year.">standard requires</a> at least 99.998% of forecast demand be met each year. Unmet demand can lead to interrupted supply, or blackouts.</p> <p>But the operator also said delays to the Kurri Kurri project posed risks to reliability in NSW this summer.</p> <p>Adding to the pressures on the system, Queensland’s Callide C coal-fired power station is still not back to capacity more than two years after an explosion at the site. The station’s owners last week <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/energy/energy-grid-fears-as-callide-c-return-delayed-until-mid-2024-20230529-p5dc90">announced</a> the plant would not be fully operational until mid-2024.</p> <p>Combine all this with a likely El Niño, and the electricity sector may be facing a challenging summer.</p> <h2>El Niño years are not normal</h2> <p>In August, the Australian Energy Market Operator is due to publish a new <a href="https://aemo.com.au/-/media/files/electricity/nem/planning_and_forecasting/nem_esoo/2022/esoo-and-reliability-forecast-methodology-document-2022.pdf">assessment</a> of the grid’s expected reliability over the next decade. It may well show reliability standards will be achieved.</p> <p>On first blush, that sounds like good news. However, the way the assessment is derived may mask the real risk during El Niño periods.</p> <p>The assessment combines a number of scenarios, which are based on different <a href="https://aemo.com.au/en/energy-systems/electricity/national-electricity-market-nem/nem-forecasting-and-planning/forecasting-and-reliability/projected-assessment-of-system-adequacy">forecasts</a> of electricity demand. The scenarios based on average weather conditions are given the most weight.</p> <p>But if an El Niño arrives, this summer will not be average. We’re likely to experience very hot and dry conditions. This may lead to higher demands on the energy system, and a greater likelihood of blackouts.</p> <p>This won’t be properly reflected in the assessment. So the grid may be deemed reliable even though electricity supplies are under immense pressure.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530771/original/file-20230608-30-lb28wc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530771/original/file-20230608-30-lb28wc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530771/original/file-20230608-30-lb28wc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530771/original/file-20230608-30-lb28wc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530771/original/file-20230608-30-lb28wc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530771/original/file-20230608-30-lb28wc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530771/original/file-20230608-30-lb28wc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="repair person climbs power pole" /><figcaption><span class="caption">The grid may be deemed reliable even though it’s under pressure.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What can be done?</h2> <p>You might find all this news worrying. But there are measures and technologies in place to help reduce the risks.</p> <p><a href="https://aemo.com.au/en/energy-systems/electricity/emergency-management/reliability-and-emergency-reserve-trader-rert">A mechanism</a> exists that allows the market operator to secure emergency energy reserves. It could mean, for example, calling on a large industrial plant to pause operations to reduce its electricity use, or starting up a standby diesel generator. The operator can start procuring this months ahead of time, and will no doubt be monitoring the situation closely.</p> <p>In the medium term, the uptake of so-called “consumer energy resources” such as rooftop solar farms and small-scale battery storage shows promise. These technologies are located at homes and businesses. They can reduce demand on the grid at peak times and can potentially be built faster than big projects.</p> <p>Longer term, we need to build more “stuff”. This includes renewable energy and other “dispatchable” resources – which can provide energy when it’s needed – as well as more transmission infrastructure.</p> <p>Several federal funding measures – the <a href="https://www.energy.gov.au/government-priorities/energy-supply/capacity-investment-scheme">Capacity Investment Scheme</a> and <a href="https://www.energy.gov.au/news-media/news/rewiring-nation-supports-its-first-two-transmission-projects">Rewiring the Nation</a> – might help realise these projects.</p> <p>The reality is that ageing coal plants are closing – and while they remain open, they’re contributing to reliability challenges in the energy system. Unchecked climate change will also add considerable strain, through natural disasters and more extreme weather.</p> <p>Unfortunately, investment in renewable and other low-emission technology has been <a href="https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/news/clean-energy-construction-peaks-as-investment-pipeline-battles-headwinds">slower than necessary</a>. This has slowed Australia’s emissions reduction efforts and cast questions over the reliability of our energy supplies as an El Niño looms.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/207210/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dylan-mcconnell-1602">Dylan McConnell</a>, Senior Research Associate, Renewable Energy &amp; Energy Systems Analyst, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/iain-macgill-576">Iain MacGill</a>, Joint director, Collaboration on Energy and Environmental Markets, and Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/an-el-nino-looms-over-australias-stressed-electricity-system-and-we-must-plan-for-the-worst-207210">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Technology

Placeholder Content Image

Survival guide for cool-weather camping

<p>Being comfortable is king to enjoying winter camping. Take a look at our suggestions to help you gear up and get out there when the weather is cold but the campfire is hot.</p> <p><strong>Shelter</strong></p> <p>It’s one of the most important aspects of camping in any season! Your bedding and shelter arrangement should be both comfortable and functional so you can always create a home away from home.</p> <p>Winter around the country can mean different things – for instance, some camp spots during winter are often covered in a blanket of snow where as at others the temperature is cool at night and moderate during the day. Depending on the type of winter you’ll be camping in, you’ll need to adjust the shelter and bedding options to suit but there are a few things every winter camper should be aware off.</p> <p>Make sure your tent pegs are suited to the type of ground where you’ll pitch your tent or shelter. For example in light sandy soil conditions a strong sand peg should work well however in snow covered ground or loose sand locations a longer sturdier peg will keep you tent and shelter firmly in place. Laying a ground sheet underneath your tent will help keep the dew and moisture away from your gear. Pitching your tent or shelter in a location that will take advantage of the morning sun is also a nice touch and one that your fellow campers will appreciate!</p> <p>If you’re likely to be camping in light snow or humid conditions, it’s a good idea to pitch a flysheet over your tent or even a tarpaulin. This will trap “dead air” between your tent and the cold air providing extra insulation and will also help reduce moisture and condensation from appearing in your tent. The same principle applies to your swag – a fly and ground sheet will help prevent condensation and creating a layer of dead air will help give you a comfy and warmer sleep.</p> <p>Hot Tip: Using a ground sheet underneath your tent or swag will help prevent moisture from entering your shelter from below.</p> <p><strong>Sleeping</strong></p> <p>What you sleep in or on can also affect your comfort level. In cold conditions the humble airbed isn’t the best insulator so it’s a good option to use a self-inflating or 4WD mattress. These bedding options also trap dead air and your body warmth will help to create a warmer bed of air to sleep on. Your choice of sleeping bag is also important so it’s a good idea to match the bag to the climate. Along with fill material and weight, sleeping bags are also rated on their insulation or temperature rating. Sleeping bags such as the Blackwolf Zambezie sleeping bag are suited to sub-zero temperatures where as less insulating sleeping bags will keep you comfortable in plus zero degree conditions. Some of us “feel the cold” more than others so it’s important to take this into consideration when deciding what sleeping bag you’ll need. We recommend using a sleeping bag rated to below the temperatures you’re expecting – it’s easier to make yourself cool than it is to add extra warmth.</p> <p>Hot Tip: Hot water bottles are great additions for a warm sleep.</p> <p><strong>What to wear</strong></p> <p>Dressing in layers is a great idea as this allows you to adjust your warmth to suit the conditions or activity. A base layer such as thermals will control your core body temperature. An insulating or middle layer such as a fleece jumper will create a micro-climate and trap warmth around your body. An outer or protective layer will protect you from the elements such as wind or rain.</p> <p><em>How To: As most of your body heat is lost through your extremities don’t forget your accessories such as beanies, scarves and gloves.</em></p> <p><strong>Cooking</strong></p> <p>Everyone loves a warming winter meal and we all have memories of a great winter stew or roast. Bringing these meals to the campsite in winter and sharing them with family and friends are easily some of the best pleasures of winter camping. Cooking over a fire is a great idea as the campers are able to enjoy the warmth provided by the fire whilst the meal is cooking. Options for cooking over a fire include the traditional cast iron cookware or fire grill and cast iron plate. Cooking options not needing a fire include thermal cookers such as the Dream Pot or a Cobb cooker. These options are perfect for cooking delicious stews, soups and roasts.</p> <p><em>Hot Tip: When cooking with cast iron, charcoal briquettes provide a long burning and consistent source of heat making cast iron cooking so easy! If firewood is your heat source, don’t forget to bring enough firewood for your heating and cooking needs!</em></p> <p>With a heap of easy cooking options available there’s no reason why you can’t be sharing a warm and hearty stew or sensational roast on your next winter camping trip.</p> <p><strong>Winter warmers</strong></p> <p>Comfort and warmth are key for enjoying your winter camping experience. Hot showers and gas heaters are just two options that will make your winter camping trip much easier and more comfortable. Gas heaters are great as they are portable and provide a constant source of heat. Water heaters such as the Coleman Hot Water on Demand system are popular options for winter campers – who can say no to an instant warm shower or hot cuppa?</p> <p><em>First appeared on the Ray’s Outdoors website. <a href="http://blog.raysoutdoors.com.au/expertadvice?category=Camping" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Visit them</strong> </a><a href="http://blog.raysoutdoors.com.au/expertadvice?category=Camping" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>here for more camping advice</strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/caravan-camping/2015/05/4-campfire-recipes/">4 simple and delicious campfire recipes you should try</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/caravan-camping/2015/05/outdoor-photography-tips/">Outdoor photography tips to help you take shots like a pro</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/caravan-camping/2015/03/bush-damper-recipe/">How to make bush damper</a></strong></em></span></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

3 reasons you feel hungrier and crave comfort foods when the weather turns cold

<p>As we move through Autumn, parts of Australia are starting to see cooler weather. For some of us, that can mean increasing feelings of hunger and cravings for “comfort food” such as as pasta, stews and ramen. </p> <p>But what’s happening in our body?</p> <h2>3 things change when it gets cold</h2> <p>1. Our body conserves heat</p> <p>It sends this energy it conserves to our internal organs so they can maintain their temperature and work properly. The body can also perform heat-generating activities (such as shivering), which uses <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21261804/">energy</a>. The body will then look for additional energy through calories from eating food. </p> <p>2. Our body warms up when eating</p> <p>When we eat, the body needs to expend energy to digest, absorb, and metabolise the nutrients. This process requires the use of energy, which generates heat in the body, leading to an increase in body temperature termed “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36012714/">diet-induced thermogenesis</a>”. </p> <p>However, the amount of energy used to keep us warm is quite <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/nonshivering-thermogenesis">modest</a>.</p> <p>3. Some people experience a drop in the neurotransmitter called serotonin</p> <p>This is partly because the rate our body produces serotonin is related to <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140673602117375.pdf">sunlight</a>, which is lower in winter. </p> <p>Serotonin helps to regulate mood, appetite, and sleep, among other things. When serotonin levels are low, it can lead to increased hunger and decreased satiety (feeling that you’ve had enough to eat), making us feel hungrier and less satisfied after meals.</p> <h2>Why we love comfort food in winter</h2> <p>Many of us struggle to eat salad in winter and crave mum’s chicken soup or a slow cooked, brothy ramen. </p> <p>Research shows our brain detects the cold weather and looks for warm <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/6/592">food</a>. Warm food can provide a sense of comfort and cosiness, which is particularly appealing during the colder months when we spend more time indoors.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878450X16300786">Comfort food</a> can mean something different for everyone. They are foods we reach for in periods of stress, nostalgia, discomfort (like being cold), or emotional turmoil. For most of us, the foods we often over-indulge in are rich and carbohydrate heavy.</p> <p>A drop in serotonin has also been shown to stimulate an urge to eat more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16340952/">carbohydrate-rich</a> foods such as gnocchi, pasta, ragout, mashed potatoes. </p> <h2>What happens to those extra calories?</h2> <p>If you consume more energy in cooler weather, some of it will be used to keep you warm. Beyond keeping us warm, extra calories we consume are stored.</p> <p>While most humans today have access to a year-round food supply, some research shows our bodies may still have some leftover instincts related to storing energy for the cooler months when food was harder to come by. </p> <p>This behaviour may also be driven by biological factors, such as changes in hormone levels that regulate appetite and <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2013.00140/full">metabolism</a>.</p> <p>A fundamental principle of nutrition and metabolism is that the balance between the energy content of food eaten and energy expended to maintain life and to perform physical work affects body <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3302369/">weight</a>. This means any excess energy that we don’t use will be stored – usually as fat.</p> <p>Using mathematical modelling, researchers <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2015.2443">have predicted</a>weight gain is more likely when food is harder to find. Storing fat is an insurance against the risk of failing to find food, which for pre-industrial humans was most likely to happen in winter.</p> <h2>It doesn’t have to be unhealthy</h2> <p>No matter your cravings during cooler months, it’s important to remember your own personal health and wellbeing goals. </p> <p>If you’re worried about excess energy intake, a change in season is a great time to rethink healthy food choices. Including lots of whole fresh vegetables is key: think soups, curries, casseroles, and so on. </p> <p>Including protein (such as meat, fish, eggs, legumes) will keep you feeling fuller for longer.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/3-reasons-you-feel-hungrier-and-crave-comfort-foods-when-the-weather-turns-cold-202831" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Today weather presenter weds former AFL star in lavish ceremony

<p>Former Miss Universe Australia and <em>Today </em>weather presenter Scherri-Lee has said “I do” in a stunning ceremony with fiancé - now husband - Daniel Venables.</p> <p>Scherri-Lee announced their happy news with a post to social media, sharing an image of herself swept up in a kiss by the former West Coast Eagles player, along with the caption “The Venables”.</p> <p>The couple’s big day was held at the Swan Valley’s popular Old Young’s restaurant - a venue decked out for the event, and on full display across the stories of their guests. </p> <p>Those same stories also revealed that Scherri-Lee walked down the aisle to an acoustic cover of Tina Turner and Jimmy Barnes’ ‘(Simply) The Best’, and that they had their first dance to Leon Bridges’ ‘Beyond’. </p> <p>Their invite list featured a number of notable names - from Eagles players’ partners to stylists, TV personalities, and some of Scherri-Le’s own co-hosts. And the love for the newlyweds didn’t stop with their celebrations, with many of their guests - and fans - making use of Scherri-Lee’s comment section to congratulate them. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Cp_nlYGPTvX/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Cp_nlYGPTvX/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Scherri-Lee Biggs (@scherri)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“The best day!!” declared fellow TV presenter and wedding guest Tracy Vo. </p> <p>“Absolutely stunning gorgeous girl!” gushed Natalia Cooper, who punctuated her message with two red hearts, “congratulations to you both”.</p> <p>“Congratulations!!!” wrote <em>The Block</em>’s Shaynna Blaze. </p> <p>“Obsessed with this. What a wedding,” admitted one celebrant, who shared Scherri-Lee’s post as well. </p> <p>“So happy to cater for your wedding at @oldyoungskitchen guys!” wrote Chef Rizzy, whose team handled the event’s food. “I hope the night was as great as it all sounded from the kitchen!”</p> <p>“Congratulations!! I hope the day was everything you dreamed of,” came <em>Perth News</em> reporter Kelly Neves’ well-wishes. </p> <p>The congratulations went on and on, with hundreds delighted to share in the happy moment through the screen. A moment they hadn’t had to wait for long, with the couple only having announced their engagement in December of 2022. </p> <p>At the time, Scherri-Lee had announced the news with a post to her Instagram account. It featured a picture of the two embracing at sunset on the beach, and the caption “Christmas came early this year. Forever isn’t enough with you.”</p> <p>The news came after Scherri-Lee had been spotted wearing a diamond ring while at another wedding. Their relationship had only been confirmed in May of the same year, after rumours had begun to swirl that the two had paired up. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Relationships

Placeholder Content Image

Floods, cyclones, thunderstorms: is climate change to blame for New Zealand’s summer of extreme weather?

<p>The final months of New Zealand’s summer carried a massive sting, bringing “unprecedented” rainfalls several times over, from widespread flooding in Auckland at the end of January to ex-tropical Cyclone Gabrielle dumping record rains and causing devastating floods across the east coast of the North Island.</p> <p>After all that, New Zealand experienced spells of thunderstorms, bringing repeat floods to parts of Auckland and then Gisborne.</p> <p>The obvious question is what role climate change plays in these record-breaking rainfalls.</p> <p>Some answers come from the international <a href="https://www.worldweatherattribution.org/">World Weather Attribution</a> team, which today released a <a href="https://spiral.imperial.ac.uk/bitstream/10044/1/102624/10/Scientific%20report%20New%20Zealand%20Floods.pdf">rapid assessment</a> which shows very heavy rain, like that associated with Cyclone Gabrielle, has become about four times more common in the region and extreme downpours now drop 30% more rain.</p> <p>The team analysed weather data from several stations, which show the observed increase in heavy rain. It then used computer models to compare the climate as it is today, after about 1.2℃ of global warming since the late 1800s, with the climate of the past.</p> <p>The small size of the analysed region meant the team could not quantify the extent to which human-caused warming is responsible for the observed increase in heavy rain in this part of New Zealand, but concluded it was the likely cause.</p> <h2>More energy in the atmosphere and ocean</h2> <p>Many factors add to the strength of a storm and the intensity of rainfall, especially for short bursts. A crucial factor is always the amount of energy available.</p> <p>Climate change is increasing that amount of energy in two main ways. First, everything is getting warmer. Rising sea surface temperatures provide <a href="https://sciencebrief.org/uploads/reviews/ScienceBrief_Review_CYCLONES_Mar2021.pdf">extra fuel for the development of tropical cyclones</a> because they grow by heating from below.</p> <p>Warmer seas mean potentially faster development of tropical cyclones, and stronger, more vigorous storms overall. Sea temperatures must be at least 26.5℃ to support the build-up of a tropical cyclone. So, as the oceans warm, these storms can reach farther from the equator.</p> <p>Second, warmer air can hold more water vapour. Every degree of warming increases the maximum amount of water vapour by around 7%. That extra water vapour tends to fall out as extra rain, but it also provides extra energy to a storm.</p> <h2>Driving waves further inland</h2> <p>The energy it takes to evaporate the water from the ocean surface and turn it into vapour is released again when the vapour condenses back into liquid water. A moister airmass heats the atmosphere more when clouds and rain form, making the air more buoyant and able to rise up more. This creates deeper, more vigorous clouds with stronger updrafts, and again more rain.</p> <p>Stronger updrafts in a storm mean more air will have to be drawn into the storm near the Earth’s surface, ensuring more “convergence” of air and moisture (water vapour). That’s why, even though a degree of warming translates to 7% more water vapour in the air, we can get 20% increases, or larger, in extreme rainfalls.</p> <p>All of this extra energy can contribute to making the storm stronger overall, with stronger winds and lower air pressures in its centre. This seems to have happened with Cyclone Gabrielle. Record low pressures were recorded at a few North Island locations as the storm passed.</p> <p>The low pressures act like a vacuum cleaner, sucking the sea surface up above normal sea level. The strong winds can then drive waves much further inland. Add in a bit of sea-level rise, and coastal inundation can get a lot worse a lot quicker.</p> <p>As the climate continues to change, storm intensity is likely to increase on average, as sea levels continue to rise. Those effects together are bound to lead to more dramatic coastal erosion and inundation.</p> <h2>Thunderstorms riding warming seas</h2> <p>These processes work for thunderstorms as well. A thunder cloud often starts as a buoyant mass of air over a warm surface. As the air rises (or convects), it cools and forces water vapour to condense back to liquid water, releasing heat and increasing the buoyancy and speed of the rising air.</p> <p>Again, that allows more moist air to be drawn into the cloud, and that convergence of moist air can increase rainfall amounts well above the 7% per degree of warming, for short bursts of very intense convection. The more intense the convection, the stronger the convergence of moisture and the heavier the resulting rainfall.</p> <p>Tropical cyclones have rings of thunderstorms around their eye during the time when they are truly tropical storms. As they transition out of the tropics into our neighbourhood, they change their structure but retain a lot of the moisture and buoyancy of the air. An ex-tropical cyclone like Gabrielle, moving over very warm water, can pack a devastating punch.</p> <p>Why has New Zealand had so much of this very heavy rain during the weeks from late January? Partly it’s the very warm ocean waters around Aotearoa (up to marine heatwave conditions) and farther north into the Coral Sea. That itself is partly related to the ongoing La Niña event in the tropical Pacific, which tends to pile up warm water (and tropical cyclones) in the west.</p> <p>But it is also related to ongoing global warming. As sea temperatures increase, it becomes easier to reach heatwave conditions. Warmer seas load the atmosphere with water vapour.</p> <p>Partly, too, the air over the North Island has been unusually “unstable” lately, very warm near ground level but cooler than normal higher up. That makes the buoyance in thunderstorms work even better and more strongly, encouraging very heavy rainfall.</p> <p>These conditions seem to have eased now, but severe thunderstorms continue to develop. As we move from summer into autumn, as the warmest seas move eastwards away from us and as La Niña fades in the tropics, the chances of a repeat event are diminishing. For now at least.</p> <p>But if we continue to warm the climate with more greenhouse gas emissions, we will continue to load the dice towards more very heavy rain over Aotearoa. Let us hope those regions and communities so badly affected by recent events have a chance to dry out, rebuild and recover before the next extreme weather.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/floods-cyclones-thunderstorms-is-climate-change-to-blame-for-new-zealands-summer-of-extreme-weather-201161" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Climate scientist warns a deadly bushfire season is "likely"

<p>An early climate model has suggested a hot and dry El Niño could form once La Niña - the event responsible for three years of flooding rains - comes to a slow close.</p> <p>Should this be on the horizon, a summer of drought, heatwaves and bushfires are all but certain according to a climate expert.</p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) released its latest climate driver update on Thursday, stating ocean temperatures "remain warmer than average in the western Pacific".</p> <p>Models indicate sea-surface temperatures may exceed El Niño thresholds in the equatorial Pacific by June.</p> <p>Dr Wenju Cai, a climate scientist with the CSIRO, said an El Niño is "likely" to form.</p> <p>"We have been through three years of La Niña, during each of which heat is stored in the equatorial Pacific," he told 9News.com.au.</p> <p>"With so much heat charged in the equatorial Pacific, an El Niño is readily triggered by relaxation of the trade winds over the region."</p> <p>"(The) majority of prediction models are predicting an El Niño by the summer.”</p> <p>After extreme wet weather conditions and soaking rains, Cai holds fears for the next bushfire season - warning it could recall the grim scenes of Black Summer of 2019 and early 2020.</p> <p>The World Health Organisation (WHO) says heatwaves are among the most dangerous of natural hazards.</p> <p>Cai said Australia should know for certain what the summer will hold by June.</p> <p>"Between March and May, predictability is low as this is a period in which there is high noise, the so-called autumn predictability barrier," he said.</p> <p>One thing is for certain though, La Niña is drawing to a close.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Top 10 tips to keep cool this summer while protecting your health and your budget

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ross-gordon-404681">Ross Gordon</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gordon-waitt-191636">Gordon Waitt</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/theresa-harada-128927">Theresa Harada</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p>With energy prices and temperatures both rising, keeping cool in summer is an increasingly costly challenge for many Australians. Energy bills are predicted to increase <a href="https://7news.com.au/politics/aussies-hit-with-another-cost-of-living-blow-as-power-prices-tipped-to-rise-by-50-per-cent-c-8657366">by 50%</a> over the next two years, adding to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/14/five-australians-managing-cost-of-living-crisis-housing-food-prices-inflation">cost-of-living crisis</a>. For some, this creates <a href="https://energyconsumersaustralia.com.au/news/putting-people-in-control-of-energy-use-is-our-most-urgent-national-energy-priority">stark choices</a> between paying energy bills or putting food on the table.</p> <p>Many households will have to contend with <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/ahead/outlooks/">high temperatures</a> this summer, and it’s getting hotter by the year. Last summer Onslow, Western Australia, endured the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-15/wa-onslow-50-degrees-dangerous-temperature-australians-get-used/100757256">highest temperature</a> ever recorded in Australia at <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-15/wa-onslow-50-degrees-dangerous-temperature-australians-get-used/100757256">50.7℃</a>. <a href="https://www.science.org.au/supporting-science/science-policy-and-analysis/reports-and-publications/risks-australia-three-degrees-c-warmer-world">Research</a> suggests climate change will lead to summer temperatures as high as 50℃ becoming <a href="https://theconversation.com/seriously-ugly-heres-how-australia-will-look-if-the-world-heats-by-3-c-this-century-157875">common</a> in Sydney and Melbourne.</p> <p>Australians need to take the risks of heat seriously and do what they can to keep their homes cool. As the World Health Organization <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/energy-and-health#tab=tab_1">points out</a>, energy and health are inextricably linked.</p> <p>So, while <a href="https://www.energy.gov.au/government-priorities/australias-energy-strategies-and-frameworks">energy policy</a> often focuses on managing costs and reducing energy use in the name of climate action, we should not forget the <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/hot-weather-risks-and-staying-cool">impacts of heat on health</a> and wellbeing. Fortunately, there are things Australians can do to keep cool this summer while managing their energy bills.</p> <h2>So how do you keep cool on a budget?</h2> <p>Based on our <a href="https://research.qut.edu.au/social-marketing-research-group/publications/">research</a> and the available evidence, our team has developed several resources including <a href="http://www.energyplusillawarra.com.au/?page_id=82">newsletters</a>, <a href="http://www.energyplusillawarra.com.au/?page_id=84">videos</a> and <a href="https://research.qut.edu.au/social-marketing-research-group/news-events/">brochures</a> on managing energy use while staying cool.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_bxSBPKDGAQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=91" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">A mix of approaches can help strike a balance between staying comfortable and keeping costs down.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Here are our top ten tips:</p> <p><strong>1. Insulate your home.</strong> <a href="https://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/insulation">Insulation</a> is often the most practical and effective way to make a home more energy-efficient. It’s a barrier to heat gain in summer (and loss in winter). Sealing gaps around <a href="https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/energy-efficiency-and-reducing-emissions/building-or-renovating/key-principles-of-energy-efficient-design/planning-and-design/insulation/draught-proofing/seal-gaps-around-doors-and-windows">windows</a>, doors, walls and <a href="https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/energy-efficiency-and-reducing-emissions/building-or-renovating/key-principles-of-energy-efficient-design/planning-and-design/insulation/draught-proofing/seal-gaps-around-walls-and-floors">floors</a> can make a big difference.</p> <p><strong>2. Shade helps keep your home cool.</strong> External shading of windows can block up to 90% of unwanted heat gain. Awnings, adjustable shutters and trees (ideally deciduous so they don’t block winter sun) and vegetation around windows can help block out the summer sun.</p> <p><strong>3. Close windows, curtains and blinds during the day.</strong> Blocking the sunlight stops heat from getting into your home. Thermally insulated double-glazed or secondary-glazed windows also help, as do honeycomb/solar blinds and blackout curtains with white backing.</p> <p><strong>4. Open doors and windows when the air is cooler outside.</strong> Opening up the house at the right times helps cool it down when the building is retaining heat during a warm spell. The coolest part of the day is usually between 4am and 7am, so if you are an early riser this is a good time to open up and let cool air in. Cool breezes often occur in the late afternoon or early evening, providing another good opportunity to cool your home.</p> <p><strong>5. Stay hydrated.</strong> Hydration is important for health and wellbeing, especially during summer. If you don’t drink enough water, you can start to feel unwell including symptoms of tiredness and headaches. Women need about eight cups or 2 litres, and men need about ten cups or 2.5 litres of fluid <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/drinking-water-and-your-health">every day</a>. Beverages with alcohol, caffeine or sugar are not as good for keeping you hydrated – water is best!</p> <p><strong>6. Wear suitable clothing.</strong> Natural fabrics such as cotton and linen absorb sweat and allow air to circulate against your skin. These are much <a href="https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-keep-cool-heatwave">better</a> than synthetics, which can leave you feeling hot and uncomfortable.</p> <p><strong>7. Personal cooling practices can help.</strong> Using a <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/hot-weather-risks-and-staying-cool">spray bottle</a> or a wet washcloth for your face and neck can help take the edge off the heat, as can a lukewarm bath or shower. <a href="https://www.intheknow.com/post/taking-naps-cools-body-heat-wave-tiktok/">Rest</a>, if possible, during the hottest part of the day – usually 11am-4pm. Vigorous physical activity at these times on hot days can be <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/how-to-cope-and-stay-safe-in-extreme-heat">damaging</a> for your health.</p> <p><strong>8. Visit <a href="https://youtu.be/qRV_8aH0dhk?t=257">cool public places</a>.</strong> When your home gets too hot, air-conditioned sanctuaries include shopping malls, libraries, galleries and eateries.</p> <p><strong>9. Switch on fans.</strong> Fans are a cheap and <a href="https://research.qut.edu.au/social-marketing-research-group/wp-content/uploads/sites/331/2022/06/Cooling.pdf">effective</a> way to keep cool. The air flow provides a similar improvement to comfort as reducing the air temperature by around 3℃. Direct the air flow to your face because the face has so many receptors on it. If the outside temperature is lower than in your home, place your fan next to an open window to draw in cool air.</p> <p><strong>10. Think twice about switching on air conditioners.</strong> An <a href="https://youtu.be/_bxSBPKDGAQ?t=120">air conditioner</a> typically uses ten times more energy than a fan. Try using a fan in combination with an air conditioner. This means you can set the air conditioner to a higher temperature in summer (add at least 3℃) and still benefit. The combined cost will be far lower than running the air conditioner alone set at a lower temperature. For efficient air conditioning, your home or room should be well sealed and well insulated, and windows should be shaded from the sun.</p> <h2>Keeping cool can protect your health</h2> <p>If, to save on energy costs, households don’t cool their homes, the consequences can be more serious than being a bit uncomfortable.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0263775820961397">research</a> found energy consumption is important for families to care for children, cook and eat well, and live comfortably in the family home. We also <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027795362200020X">found</a> that for older Australians energy is vital for preventing ill health and death, managing illness or disease, supporting good mental health and sustaining social relationships. But our research shows people <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301421515302093">worry</a> about the costs and need <a href="https://energyconsumersaustralia.com.au/great-grants/exploring-the-nexus-of-energy-use-ageing-and-health-and-wellbeing-among-older-australians">support</a> to use energy to maintain their health and well-being.</p> <p>Heat exposure can <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/heatwaves#tab=tab_1">cause</a> dehydration, heat exhaustion and stress. It can also worsen existing <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/climate/Pages/how-climate-can-affect-health.aspx">health problems</a> such as heart and lung disease. As a result, heatwaves <a href="https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12913-022-08341-3">significantly increase</a> hospital admissions and deaths, killing <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212420921006324">354 people</a> in Australia between 2000 and 2018.</p> <p>Hot nights can also cause <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/20/global-heating-cutting-sleep-study-health-impacts">poor sleep</a> and have <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033350618302130?casa_token=myga3j6buToAAAAA:NW4Uv_qdbp7roLwcL4x-aGbzy6im8Gb3DKaD-9VZnAX6_T_GbdIJzKUWrOHue46iO1qiEhVdIQ">harmful impacts</a> on mental health. So, to protect your health, do what you can to keep cool this summer.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/193723/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ross-gordon-404681">Ross Gordon</a>, Professor, School of Advertising, Marketing &amp; PR, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gordon-waitt-191636">Gordon Waitt</a>, Professor of Geography, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/theresa-harada-128927">Theresa Harada</a>, Research Fellow at Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/top-10-tips-to-keep-cool-this-summer-while-protecting-your-health-and-your-budget-193723">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

Placeholder Content Image

How to survive camping in bad weather

<p>When the elements are wild and unpredictable it can make for an unpleasant camping trip. Here are our top tips to surviving camping in bad weather.</p> <p><strong>Don’t go</strong></p> <p>This seems like the obvious choice but many people still move forward with their trip as it’s a waste of all the time, planning and preparation. However, nobody is likely to have a good time, especially grandchildren, if you’re cooped up in a tent or caravan for the entire weekend. If it’s possible to postpone the trip, then do it.</p> <p><strong>Location</strong></p> <p>Even if conditions are sunny and perfect when you arrive at your campsite, always think about the best location to pitch your tent if it does happen to rain and storm. Where will the water run? When the water hits the tent, will it pool in the indentation you set up? Steer clear of gullies, river banks in case of flash flooding.</p> <p><strong>Extra shelter</strong></p> <p>When you’re camping in the winter months, even if it’s forecast to be clear, it’s always a good idea to bring extra shelter. You can use this extra shelter to provide protection for your camping gear, provide an area to cook and eat, and if there is a leak in your tent, use as a tarp.</p> <p><strong>Wet-weather gear</strong></p> <p>When you need to move around a campsite in the rain, appropriate wet-weather gear will keep you dry and warm. That means waterproof jackets and hoods, ponchos and rubber boots – and when it comes to camping gear, you do usually get what you pay for. Make sure you have a few sets of spare clothes as well in case you do get a drenching.</p> <p><strong>Waterproof bags</strong></p> <p>Sometimes your gear will get wet and since you don’t want wet things in your sleeping area, store them in bags. Ensure dry things stay dry by also storing them in waterproof bags.</p> <p><strong>Wet weather activities</strong></p> <p>Be prepared with an arsenal of wet weather activities such as cards, board games, puzzles and crosswords to do. Otherwise, go for a drive and explore the area – you could find some great spots to check out when the weather is dry or have some fun splashing in the mud and rain with the grandkids.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Imminent arrival of huge "double-size" mosquitoes

<p>Aussies can’t seem to catch a break this year; between inflation, record-breaking weather events and interest rate hikes we’ve had it rough.</p> <p>If you were planning on summer being a welcome relief, think again and start making preparations for the shocking mosquito season that lies ahead - which is believed to be the worst in 30 years.</p> <p>The insect population numbers have skyrocketed, thanks to extreme wet weather, so you might want to stock up on the likes of bug spray and Aerogard.</p> <p>These fat, hungry, “double-size” bloodsuckers are making their way into major cities after wreaking havoc in the NSW Central West.</p> <p>"We are told this is what is expected after all of this rain, is the floodwaters recede, we get ponds, these pools of water, the female mozzies go on a frenzy, lay their eggs," Today reporter Sarah Stewart said.</p> <p>Stewart said Sydneysiders can expect an influx of the hungry insects in coming weeks, as conditions ripen for even more of the pests.</p> <p>"We are hearing from farmers if you work outside, they get on your hair, up your nose, they bite them through their hats even," she said.</p> <p>"Unfortunately, we are told they are going to head to Sydney to the coast, over the coming weeks."</p> <p>Just weeks ago, Associate Professor Cameron Webb from NSW Health Pathology told 9news.com.au that numbers are expected to explode once the weather officially warms up.</p> <p><em>Image: Nine News</em></p>

Body

Our Partners