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climate change

The new island may have been caused by changing sea levels. Australian Antarctic Division: Gary Miller.

The new island may have been caused by changing sea levels. Australian Antarctic Division: Gary Miller.

Australian scientists making a visit to sub Antarctic Heard Island in the Southern Ocean have found a rapidly changing landscape.

The island is 4,000 kilometres south west of Western Australia and is home to two active volcanoes.

Australian Antarctic Division researchers found that an area known as “Elephant Spit” was no longer attached to the mainland.

Senior Environmental Policy Adviser, Ewan McIvor, says the creation of what appears to be a new island may have been caused by changing sea levels.

“Certainly the air temperature at Heard Island has been observed to have increased by about one degree celsius in the last 50 years,” he said.

“But it’s really hard to remove the possible contribution of rising sea levels from other contributions like the strong ocean swells and winds.”

The glaciers are in retreat too. Read more here.

shells.jpgShell weights of marine snails are getting lighter

Tasmanian scientists are worried a microscopic marine snail species found in the Southern Ocean may soon die out due to climate change:

The scientists say it is field evidence that sea life in the Southern Ocean is being affected by warmer water, and if these snails die out it could have dire consequences on the ocean’s food chain.

They took an expedition deep into the Southern Ocean on board the Aurora Australis in February, and collected a number of microscopic marine snails.

The scientists have found the snails have dropped half their shell weight over the past decade.

Dr Donna Roberts says it is evidence that climate change is affecting sea life in the Southern Ocean.

“Many researchers have been assuming we would see this kind of result for the past 50 years and this is the first time we’ve got a measured response to the changing of the ocean chemistry,” she said.

“It’s interesting to know what’s going to happen to commercial fish that eat them because a change in their diet might mean a change in where they actually are living, so it’s not just we might loose one variety of snail it actually could change the whole eco-system of the southern ocean.

“That’s what we’re most worried about that it could completely upset our commercial fish stocks.”

[From ABC News]

How will climate change impact Tasmania?

Dr Peter McIntosh from the CSIRO department for marine and atmospheric research projects a few possible scenarios from the computer model he ran for Hydro Tasmania.

Slideshow of Tasmanian photographs by Tasmanian Arc 2008

The Tasmanian Government will introduce legislation to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by the year 2050.

Premier Paul Lennon says the target will be based in 1990 levels.

He says the government’s car fleet will be carbon neutral by mid 2010 and State Cabinet will consider making it mandatory for major government buildings to have solar power and hot water installed.

Mr Lennon has also announced an agreement with Greening Australia to offset the government’s air travel.