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Vegetation Index of Central Queensland, Australia

23.3S 150.5E

April 11th, 2010 Category: Vegetation Index

Australia - February 23rd, 2010

Australia - February 23rd, 2010

This FAPAR image focuses on the central eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. Visible regions include, moving down the coast from the upper left, Mackay, Fitzroy and Wide Bay-Burnett.

Most of the area appears green, indicating good photosynthetic activity, with some areas of high activity visible in red along the coast in the upper left quadrant and some areas of low activity (yellow) dispersed throughout.

Central Queensland is an ambiguous geographical division of Queensland that centres on the eastern coast, around the Tropic of Capricorn (hence it also being known as Capricornia).

Its major regional centre is Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast and the area extends west to the Central Highlands at Emerald, north to the Mackay Regional Council southern boundary, and south to Gladstone.

However, it is important to note that Central Queensland isn’t technically the geographical centre of Queensland – Longreach is far more central, even along the coastline.

Tropical Cyclone Ului (20P) Expected to Make Landfall in Queensland, Australia

14.6S 152.5E

March 19th, 2010 Category: Tropical Storms

Tropical Cyclone Ului (20P) - March 16th, 2010

Tropical Cyclone Ului (20P) - March 16th, 2010

Enhanced image

Enhanced image

Track of TC 20P - March 18th, 2010 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of TC 20P

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului (20P) is one of the fastest intensifying tropical cyclones on record, strengthening from a tropical storm to a Category 5 equivalent cyclone within a 24 hour span.

Between 13 and 14 March, Cyclone Ului underwent an unusually explosive phase of rapid intensification. During a 24 hour span, the system intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 equivalent cyclone, tying Hurricane Wilma in 2005 for the fastest intensification of a system from tropical storm to Category 5.

According to the JTWC, maximum sustained winds increased from 100 km/h (65 mph) to 260 km/h (160 mph). They also estimated that the storm’s minimal central pressure had decreased from 982 mbar (hPa) to 918 mbar (hPa), a drop of 64 mbar (hPa), during this span.

Ului was first identified by the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) late on 9 March roughly 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Hiw Island, Vanuatu. At this time, the system was classified as Tropical Disturbance 13F.

Early the following day, the system became sufficiently organized for the FMS to upgrade the disturbance to a tropical depression. Several hours later, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) also began monitoring the system. By this time, deep convection had developed around a low-level circulation and banding features had formed. A slow westward movement was expected as the depression was situated north of a subtropical ridge.

On 12 March, 13F was upgraded to Tropical Cyclone Ului. By early on 13 March, it was a category 2 cyclone. Later that day, Ului strengthened into a category 3, making it a severe tropical cyclone. The storm continued to strengthen throughout the day and that night it became a category 5.

Ului became the first category 5 South Pacific cyclone since Severe Tropical Cyclone Percy in February of 2005 but weakened to category 4 about the time it crossed the 160°E meridian. The system was predicted to restrengthen back into a category 5 as it moved away from an upper level low and Severe Tropical Cyclone Tomas, however 20P remained as a category 4 and had weakened to a category 3 system in the early hours of 18 March but is expected to restrengthen.

As a Category 5 cyclone, Ului passed through the southern Solomon Islands, causing severe damage on the islands of Rennell, Guadalcanal as well as Bellona province. Large swells produced by the storm washed away several homes along coastal areas. Flooding was also reported on several islands; however, officials confirmed that no fatalities resulted from the storm.

Maximum winds on the affected islands reached 120 km/h (75 km/h). On Rennell Island, initial reports stated that at least ten homes had been severely damaged or destroyed in several villages. Light to moderate damage was sustained on Makira and Guadalcanal, with at least two homes sustaining damage.

Unconfirmed reports of a large wave inundating several villages, washing away homes and overturning large boulders came from east Makira around 4:00 pm local time. Another village on the western side of Makira was reportedly inundated roughly five hours later. Later damage assessments made on Makira Island confirmed at least 13 homes were destroyed and several more were damaged. The most severe damage took place in Woau village where ten homes were destroyed.

After Cyclone Ului passed through the Solomon Islands, officials in Queensland, Australia began warning residents about the possibility of the storm making landfall in the region. Large swells produced by the system prompted lifeguards to close large areas of public beaches. These swells were anticipated to be the largest experienced along the Queensland coastline in the past decade and emergency management officials warned residents living along coastal areas that the waves would likely inundate low-lying regions.

On 18 March, new forecasts of the future track of Ului indicated that it would make landfall in Queensland. As a result, officials evacuated roughly 300 people from the islands of Heron and Lady Elliot, situated about 1,000 km (620 mi) off the Australian mainland. Residents along the Sunshine Coast were advised to prepare their homes for a possible Category 4 cyclone and stock up on non-perishable foods.

Later on 18 March, the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting that the cyclone will cross or near the Queensland coast, between Cardwell and Mackay, on 21 March as a category 3 cyclone. Several ports along the Queensland coastline were shut down for several days as large waves impacted the region. Transportation of coal and other raw materials was halted in these areas as well.

Australian Islands Evacuated as Cyclone Hamish Lashes Coast

March 8th, 2009 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclone Hamish 18P, Infrared and Water Vapour composite - March 8th 2009, 12:00 UTC

Tropical Cyclone Hamish 18P, Infrared and Water Vapour composite - March 8th 2009, 12:00 UTC

Australian authorities evacuated resort islands in Queensland state and put emergency services on alert as Tropical Cyclone Hamish lashed the northern coast with strong winds.

About 3,000 people, including hotel guests, residents and campers are being evacuated from Fraser Island, a World Heritage, listed site about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the state capital, Brisbane, the Department of Emergency Services said. Only essential workers have been allowed to stay at Lady Elliot and Heron resort islands.

Troops can be “deployed at short notice if required not only in the event of a major disaster but to assist with evacuations,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said at a televised news conference today.

The cyclone, with winds as high as 260 kilometers (162 miles) an hour, was heading south-southeast parallel to Queensland’s coast, threatening islands along the Great Barrier Reef, the Bureau of Meteorology said today. The state government warned people to be prepared to flee their homes at short notice.

Hamish was downgraded by the bureau to a Category 4 storm from Category 5 at 1 p.m. local time. Forecasters said the storm had earlier been as powerful as Cyclone Larry, which caused widespread destruction when it made landfall in Queensland in 2006, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

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Remnants of Tropical Cyclone Ellie

February 3rd, 2009 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Remnants of Tropical Cyclone Ellie - February 3rd, 2009

Remnants of Tropical Cyclone Ellie - February 3rd, 2009

After crossing the Australian coast at Mission Beach yesterday, Tropical Cyclone Ellie weakened into a rain depression. Here, the remnants of the system are visible above Queensland.

Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Brisbane reported that the storm was fairly weak, although it was causing heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres could still be expected.

Those heavy rains could continue to cause flooding and other problems in the areas between Innisfail and Mackay for the next few days.

The bureau has forecast that the storm will move back out to sea within 24 to 36 hours and reform, thus bringing more  heavy rain and strong winds to Queensland’s central coast later in the week.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia – October 6th, 2008

October 6th, 2008 Category: Image of the day

Great Barrier Reef, Australia - October 5th, 2008Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef, Australia - October 5th, 2008

Detail of the reef in front of Mackay

Detail of the reef in front of Mackay

The Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland (northeast Australia), is the world’s largest coral reef system. It is made up of more than 3000 individual reef systems and 900 islands, and extends for 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). It is the largest single structure made by living organisms; bigger than the Great Wall of China and so large that it is the only living thing on the planet visible from space.

The Great Barrier Reef is actually composed of billions of tiny organisms, called coral polyps. In fact, 400 species of corals (both hard and soft) can be found there.

Enormous algal bloom from Mackay to Townshend Island

Enormous algal bloom from Mackay to Townshend Island

It also supports a great diversity of life, including 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, 6 species of sea turtles which use the reef for breeding, salt-water crocodiles, 125 species of shark, stingray, skates and chimera, almost 5000 species of mollusk, 1500 species of fish, 9 species of seahorse, 17 species of sea snake, and 7 species of frog. There are also 15 species of seagrass and 500 species of marine algae or seaweed. On the islands, 215 species of birds can be observed roosting or nesting. The islands also have 2195 plant species. Many of the species populating the reef ecosystem are either considered vulnerable or endangered.

In the image on the left we can observe a huge algal bloom that stretches from the coastal city of Mackay to Townshend Island.

Coast near Gladstone

Coast near Gladstone

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park protects a large portion of the reef, limiting the impact of human use and thus protecting it from problems such as overfishing and tourism. Other environmental problems affecting the reef are runoff (particularly chemical runoff from farms), which affects the water quality, cyclic outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, which prey on the coral polyps, shipping accidents and oil spills, tropical cyclones, and climate change, which is accompanied by mass coral bleaching.

In the lower central part of the image, an artificial basin next to the Boyne Island Aluminium Smelter, the largest aluminium smelter in Australia, is clearly visible as an orange splotch. Aluminium smelters contribute to climate change.

source Wikipedia