My mother lived and worked on Heron Island at the Great Barrier Reef in 1955. That was the same year the young Bob Endean established the University of Queensland Heron Island Research Station. He went on to become a famous marine biologist, and instrumental in the formation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in 1975. There are photographs of my mother, then Joan Edith Pearce, standing knee deep surrounded by Porites coral micro atolls that are stunted and bleached. She says no one talked about ‘coral bleaching’ back then, it was always crown-of-thorn star fish that were going to cause the imminent demise of the Great Barrier Reef.
The growth of corals back in 1955 at Heron Island was constrained by their inability to continue to grow-up, because sea levels were not rising. This continues to be the situation today — despite what you might to be told on the nightly news. In fact, a peer-reviewed technical paper by L. Scopelitis et al. published in the journal ‘Coral Reef’ (2011) and rather curiously entitled ‘Coral colonisation of a shallow reef flat in response to rising sea level: quantification from 35 years of remote sensing data at Heron Island, Australia’ explains that the period 2002 to 2007 has been the most constrained for Heron Island corals since at least 1940. This is apparently because they have reached their vertical limit for growth, and there has been no sea level rise. I’m not disputing that the computer models tell us that we have had catastrophic sea level rise over this period, just that it is more difficult to find evidence of this sea level rise at the Great Barrier Reef, and along our coastlines.
My mother was born in Malta, when it was a British naval base. Her father was a signalman responsible for transmitting, receiving, encoding, decoding, and distributing messages obtained via flag semaphore and signalling and visual Morse code. Communications are still important, but we do them in different ways now a-days. Both my grandfathers died of war-related injuries. They were men who went to war, and their stories end about then. Of course, there will be another war. It is the history of the world, and history tends to repeat itself.
At the beginning of WWII, Mum found herself in England for the first time ever, and living in a little village just to the south of London under the path of the doodlebugs (German V-1 flying bombs). When they fell short of London, they fell on her village.
At the end of the war, remembering the warmth of Malta, she paid ten pounds that was the cost of passage to sunny Australia. After two years in Melbourne she headed north and found work on Heron Island. The year I was born, 1963, she was further north again living just to the south of Darwin in the remote Northern Territory growing bananas and tomatoes. She was warm, and hearing stories of how bitterly cold it was back in England. That was also the year my grandmother decided to migrate to Australia, and join her.
I see from the news reports that the Thames has frozen over again, this year. That it hadn’t frozen-over for nearly 60 years not since 1963.
My mother is ninety next month, on 26th March 2021. I’m getting in early and wishing her a happy birthday from now until at least then! Also, thanks Mum, for all that you have done for me since at least 1963 when I was born and the last time the Thames froze over.
Mum, you never waver and you are always kind. You set off on an adventure and you stayed the course. And I love that you always read, and everything, from all perspectives.
15th February 2021
So many of our once most trusted institutions are now engaged in little more than keeping us, the public, in a state of unnecessary and constant fear. It is so wrong. And it will stop people from visiting the still magical Great Barrier Reef.
Managers at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have for years misled the public on the state of the climate. It is not getting drier, and the extent to which some coastal locations may have warmed over the last hundreds years is unclear because of all the changes to the measurement methods. Also, the extent of the remodelling of the temperature record can now be explored through an interactive table, unique to this website, with maximum and minimum annual series for all 112 ACORN-SAT sites (versions 1 and 2) juxtaposed against the raw data.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last decade researching a technique for forecasting rainfall using artificial neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence. A list of my published technical papers detailing the technique can be found at https://climatelab.com.au/publications/.