Author Archives: Seth Westra

Holiday special: The Basilica cistern

Istanbul is an intriguing city that thrives at the interface: between east and west, Islam and Christianity, antiquity and modernity.  It is a city of monuments spanning two millennia, including the Hagia Sophia which was constructed and reconstructed while Istanbul … Continue reading

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Climate change back in the spotlight

Few of you would have missed the news that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its latest Assessment Report. Only the Summary for Policy Makers has been released thus far, with the unedited version of the remainder of … Continue reading

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Thinking outside of the bell curve

Statistical distributions do not usually generate widespread public enthusiasm. Sure, some people spend hours admiring the shape-shifting forms of the beta distribution or the unflappable positivity of the exponential distribution; the limitless potential of the Gumbel distribution or the black-or-white … Continue reading

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Changes to the temporal distribution of Australian rainfall

The question of how rainfall intensity will change with global warming is an important one, and confidence is building within the scientific community that rainfall extremes will on average become more intense and/or more frequent as global temperatures increase. While … Continue reading

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Calculating the probability of compound events: a risky proposition

The following is a guest post from Dr Michael Leonard, a research associate at the University of Adelaide. Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012 was widely noted to involve the alignment of a tropical storm with an extra tropical storm, … Continue reading

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How good are climate models at simulating sub-daily rainfall patterns?

Climate models are one of our most important tools to help us understand likely changes to extreme rainfall under a warmer climate. These models are complex mathematical representations of the world’s climate system, and simulate the circulation of the earth’s … Continue reading

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An increase in the intensity of extreme rainfall?

One of the most alarming projections associated with human-induced climate change is the potential for an increase in the intensity and frequency of rainfall extremes. But how much do we really understand about the likely changes to extreme rainfall patterns … Continue reading

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2011: A busy year for global extremes

By all accounts, 2011 was a busy year for climate extremes. Readers from Australia will no doubt remember the year starting with extremely heavy rainfall drenching much of the state of Queensland, followed by the catastrophic flash floods in Toowoomba in the middle of … Continue reading

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A warm summer in the Arctic

It is around this time every year that I start obsessively checking the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) website to look at the latest measurements of Arctic sea ice. I have no idea why I do this – I’m … Continue reading

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Why blog about hydrology?

The hydrological cycle has fascinated humanity for millennia, with a diversity of ancient civilisations known to manipulate river systems for agricultural purposes, and adapt – although not always successfully – to periodic floods and droughts. It was not until seventieth … Continue reading

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