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Just back from a visit to Perth, Western Australia for the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (UNEP-EEAP). While we were there someone asked if the ozone hole was still there. The answer is very much so. It is predicted to recover by about 2060, but here is what it looked like last week and you can see all of Antarctica beneath it. So as we think about the Paris meeting and what we should do with greenhouse gases it is a useful reminder that we can act together and change things. In the 1980s we regulated CFC and other Ozone Depleting Substances. BUT once you mess with Earth's climate it takes a while to fix. So we need to get on with it.

 

You might think moss was just something we walk on but think again. Recent graduate Dr Jessica Bramley-Alves has written an article for the public about how we can use mosses to tell us how climates are changing in Antarctica.  You can read the article here

Sophistication in Simplicity

We will have more articles for the public coming out this month so watch this space!

This week is science week in Australia and Diana and Zbynek starred in a UOWTV video on our Antarctic research.  On Friday our "Game of Antarctic mosses" story was published in the Universities' booklet celebrating 40 years of Research at UOW and Sharon featured in another video to promote the event. On Tuesday, Zbynek left to go for some holiday and to visit colleagues at CESBIO. Meanwhile Sharon met up with Bob Furbank at the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre to discuss LIFT research.

Satellites provide a key method for measuring properties of the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere on global scales. In particular, in recent years the detection and quantification of solar induced fluorescence (SIF) as a means to quantify plant growth and productivity has been a key goal of both NASA’s OCO-2 mission and the proposed European FLEX mission. However, the processes driving SIF are not fully understood.

Last Wednesday night we had a farewell dinner for Zbyněk Malenovský who is leaving the lab next week. He is going back to Europe for a holiday before starting a new job in the US.  We will all miss him. He has been a great assett to the Antarctic and LIFT research over the past few years.  We are hoping it is au revior and that we will continue to collaborate in the future.

Assessing the impacts of human activity on plants in one of the world’s most remote regions Royal Society of Chemistry Blog on our recent paper on the Impact of hydrocarbons from a diesel fuel on the germination and early growth of subantarctic plants

GK Macoustra, CK King, J Wasley, SA Robinson and DF Jolley. Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2015, Advance Article DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00680A download here

 

 

 

Last week Melinda Waterman and Johanna Turnbull finished writing their PhD theses and submitted them for examination.  So a big congratulations to both of them for getting through by the deadline.  Writing a book is never easy and that is effectively what they have done. Now we just need to wait and see what the examiners have to say, but in the meantime they are both catching up on sleep and hopefully enjoying having their lives back.

It's been a busy week. Wednesday was the big day. Dr Jessica Bramley-Alves made a flying visit from Singapore to Graduate and to give her final PhD seminar. Jess managed to get history, science and modern culture into her talk on Antarctic moss demonstrating what an inter-disciplinary lot we are. Dr Ari Nugraha also graduated. Ari is an honorary member of the moss team having worked with Mel on moss pigment identification.  

Anna Nydahl recently completed Honours in the Robinson Lab and is now back in Sweden. She tested how sensitive Antarctic moss and algae were to contaminated soil.  Around the Antarctic stations there have been quite a few fuel spills where the diesel used to fuel the stations has accidently leaked into the soil.  The Australian Antarctic Division are cleaning up a number of these sites using innovative remediation techniques.

 

During the first year of their PhD, students have to write a Literature review, produce a project proposal and give a seminar.  Together these are the hoops that need to be jumped through to get confirmed in your PhD program. Rhys did his seminar at the postgrad retreat last year and was so impressive he won the prize for the best 1st year talk. Last week he completed the other two components in excellent style, so congratulations Rhys.