Limit of Heat: Raptor sacrifices birds


February 23rd, 2012
by Jo Law

We returned to Austinmer at the start of this pentad to a period of warm and humid days. The rain that dominated previous weeks seemed to have subsided somewhat; although evening storms still brought significant rainfall at the beginning of the week. It is nearing the commencement of a new academic year and we planned to kick off with our new schedule, but instead we all got sick. … {read on}

Autumn already……?


February 21st, 2012
by Mike Leggett

Hard to believe summer is over….. the bumper crop anticipated following the regular rain and the success with the parsnips, never materialised….. six zuccini plants grew huge and produced a total of 12 fruit; pumpkin spread all over the place and to date, no fruit have been observed; and I’m still waiting for the eggplants to lay! The dwarf beans were the only things to produce (fighting the mozzies during their harvesting….) I’m told the ground might have been too rich, though I added nothing other than a dusting of dolomite; so maybe I should have been regular with the seaweed fertilizer?

So I’ve decided to concentrate on the root crops for the winter months, and try and reproduce the parsnip success, maybe to prove it wasn’t just a fluke! Will also try celeriac, carrot, and the much loved broccoli.

Attention will turn again as the temperatures drop to gradually replacing the ancient English country garden with the kind of natives who will be happy in this place. Whilst I was out the front two days ago, grubbing out a motley corner, heard a small bird’s alarm calls, so strolled over to see what it was all about…. I was just in time to see an adult Red Belly Black slide off into the stormwater culvet next to our block. Unusual to see them so close to the house, but I suppose the extra rain this year has been good for frog breeding and therefore for the red belly’s pantry. This reminded me of a young adult Golden Crown spotted in the garden at the end of the year, looking like a large worm. The variety in this bush side block continues to delight.

Start of Autumn: Cold cicada chirps


February 18th, 2012
by Jo Law

In the last part of this pentad, we travelled to Canberra for the installation and opening of Louise Curham’s and my collaborative exhibition at the Belconnent Art Centre. These recent mid-February days were hot and warm with the daily maximums hitting around the mid to high 20s. In the late afternoons and early evenings, thunderstoms slowly rolled in. Spectacular lightning bolts were followed by tremendous roars of thunder. Great rains poured and washed away the day’s heat. The apparent air temperature was brought down to the daily minimums of around the mid-teens. … {read on}

Start of Autumn: White dew descends


February 13th, 2012
by Jo Law

The length of day has been steadily decreasing since the December solstice. The last ‘longest day of the year’ in the southern hemisphere was December 22nd, 2011. On that day in Wollongong, the sun rose at 05:39, set at 19:07 and gave us approximately 14 hours and 28 minutes of daylight. The current day length is around 13 hours and 23 minutes and will continue to decrease until the June solstice on the 20th of that month. On March 25th, 2012, it will be equilux in Wollongong when we will have 11 hours and 59 minutes of daylight and 12 hours and 1 minute of darkness. … {read on}

Canberra at 3pm in Parkes


February 9th, 2012
by Louise Curham

Today in Canberra at 3pm in Parkes it started to rain and it absolutely poured until about 4.05 pm. There was thunder. The water on the bike paths was midway up my calves and at one point I almost had to walk because the current from the runoff was too strong to pedal against. It was cold enough for my fingers and toes to go numb. Yet in 2009 it was average daily temp of something ridiculously high like 32. I feel quite sorry for our friend coming from Norway who is counting on the tail end of summer to smooth her passage for life in Canberra. It is quite a distinct change in the way the darkness is falling at the moment – very quickly with much shorter twilight yet only two weeks ago it was light well past 8.

Start of Autumn: Cool wind arrives


February 8th, 2012
by Jo Law

In this pentad, the sun arrives at 315º on the ecliptic. By the reckoning of the almanac, autumn begins. Presently, the weather and the general environment appear to give little clue to the imminent seasonal changes, although preceptibly, minute by minute, the sun rises later and sets earlier each day. The first term has commenced in primary and secondary schools across all states. Parliamentarians of Australia are sitting their Autumn session. The first semester at Universities is about to begin. … {read on}

Major Heat: Great rains sweep through


February 3rd, 2012
by Jo Law


In this last pentad of Summer, great rains indeed swept through with 73mm recorded at Bellambi (AWS). The Bureau of Meteorology tells us that ‘a low pressure trough lies over inland New South Wales, while a ridge extends across the southern Tasman Sea. This pattern, assisted by an upper-level system in the area, is generating rainfall across many central and eastern districts.’ The seasonal rainfall outlook issued by the Bureau previously predicting a wetter than average summer has come to pass although ABC Rurual News reports that while parts of Queensland and northern New South Wales are flooding, southern New South Wales are ‘in grip of drought’. … {read on}

Major Heat: Earth is steaming wet


January 30th, 2012
by Jo Law


In this second pentad of Major Heat, the winter monsoon north of Hong Kong weakened bringing the temperatures back up to the high teens. Sunday 29th January was the seventh day of the lunar new year, traditionally known as Rénrì (人日), literally: ‘people’s day’, meaning ‘everyone’s birthday’ when everybody’s age advances by a year (presumbly useful when individual birthdays were not recorded). On this day we travelled back across the equator and some 37º east. In doing so we moved from time zone UTC/GMT + 8 hours to UTC/GMT + 11 hours and advanced our clocks by 3 hours. We arrived in Sydney at approximately 07:25 on the morning of 30th January, a hot and humid day with a maximum of 34.6ºC recorded at Sydney Airport (AWS). … {read on}

Major Heat: Rotted weeds turn into fireflies


January 26th, 2012
by Jo Law

This pentad ended on the third day of the Chinese lunar new year. The year of the dragon urshered in a minimum of 9.4ºC and a maximum of 11.4ºC. The low air temperatures combined with with a cold northerly (both results of the winter monsoon in mainland China) and high humidity made for a surprising chilly new year. The Hong Kong Observatory recorded the lowest seasonal minimum of 7.4ºC since 1996. A cold weather warning is now ‘in force’, it thoughtfully adivses: “to put on warm clothes and to avoid adverse health effects due to the cold weather…. If you must go out, please avoid prolonged exposure to wintry winds. If you know of elderly persons or persons with chronic medical conditions staying alone, please call or visit them occasionally to check if they need any assistance. Make sure heaters are safe before use, and place them away from any combustibles. Do not light fires indoors as a means to keep warm. Whatever the temperature, please ensure that there is plenty of fresh air in your room when you are using an old-type gas water heater.” … {read on}

Minor Heat: Hawk studies and learns


January 20th, 2012
by Jo Law

In this pentad I travelled north of the equator to latitude 22°16′42″N and longitude 114°09′32″ E, to the city of Hong Kong. The city occupies a total area of 1104 squred km, situated on the east side of the Pearl River delta. According to its 2010 census, just over 7 million people live here making its average density to be about 6480 people per squared km. Despte its reputation as an highly populated urban environment, 75% of land Hong Kong remains undeveloped due to its steep gradient. On the mountains and hillsides, lucious subtropical plants can been seen to thrive. The constant high humidity (of no less that 60%) encourages plant growth; some species of trees take full adventage of the available moisture by sending out arial roots; small plants often sprout bewteen the cracks of concreted slopes. … {read on}

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