Hexbyte Glen Cove Flood-ravaged eastern Australia braces for more wild weather

Hexbyte Glen Cove

More downpours are forecast for areas of New South Wales which last week were hit by record flooding.

Australian towns devastated by deadly flooding over the past week prepared for further intense weather Sunday, with expected downpours halting volunteer recovery and clean-up efforts.

The national weather bureau warned of and major flooding in the state of Queensland, where 11 people died in the past week’s floods.

Flash flooding is forecast for the major city of Brisbane, home to 2.6 million people.

Heavy rains, large hailstones and damaging winds were also expected to hit further south in the state of New South Wales, including the town of Lismore, which last week saw record flooding and dramatic rescue efforts to save residents stranded on their roofs.

The from the floods in New South Wales stands at five, after the body of a man was found Saturday.

Some locals in flood-affected areas have taken to to vent frustration about what they see as a lack of police, defence personnel and emergency services on the ground to help with the recovery effort.

In Lismore, Tom Wolff, who runs a local charity organisation, said he spent Saturday collecting donations of insulin, which were then delivered by a privately-chartered helicopter to diabetic residents in the nearby town of Woodburn.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton Sunday defended the work of his department in the aftermath of the record flooding, saying he was “absolutely satisfied with the defence response”.

“We’ve come in in force, and we will increase the numbers dramatically,” he said, promising there would be 5,000 troops on the ground in the coming days.

Scientists say is making Australia’s floods, bushfires, cyclones and droughts more frequent and more intense.

© 2022 AFP

Flood-ravaged eastern Australia braces for more wild weather (2022, March 6)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Saving the eastern monarch butterfly thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Saving the eastern monarch butterfly

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An eastern monarch butterfly taking a short rest. Credit: Rodrigo Solis-Sosa

Simon Fraser University researchers are playing a key role in guiding conservation efforts to protect a declining butterfly population. The eastern monarch butterfly, an important pollinating species known for its distinct yellow-orange and black colour, is diminishing due to the loss of the milkweed plant—its primary food source.

Researchers analyzed current conservation strategies and recommended changes to how and where declining milkweed can be restored, based on assessments of climate and butterfly migration. Their study is published today in Frontiers in Environmental Science.

SFU Ph.D. student Rodrigo Solis-Sosa and professor Sean Cox, from the School of Resource and Environmental Management, led the study with biological sciences professor Arne Mooers. The trio collaborated with Christina Semeniuk, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER) and study co-writer Maxim Larrivée, director of the Insectarium de Montréal, one of the five Montréal’s Space for Life museums.

Solis-Sosa says researchers hope to prevent the eastern monarch butterfly from the same fate as the western , which typically migrated from the Okanagan to California each winter. This year’s measurements of western monarch butterfly colonies found “zero overwintering populations, putting them at an all-time low and closer to extinction,” he explains.

Eastern monarch butterflies overwinter in Mexico from November to March then migrate and reproduce across the U.S. before reaching eastern Canada in late August.

Eastern monarch butterfly larvae depend on the milkweed plant for food. Credit: Rodrigo Solis-Sosa

Milkweed has declined across the U.S. due to clearing land for agricultural use, GMO crops, herbicides and climate change. While identifying the U.S. midwest as the best place to focus on restoration efforts, given optimal weather and milkweed availability when the monarch butterfly arrives, the team also found that the southern U.S. has a paramount yet somewhat neglected role.

“While increasing the number of milkweed stems in the South wasn’t as effective as in the Midwest, decreasing their number in the South was catastrophic,” says Solis-Sosa. “While the South may not play a huge role in increasing the eastern monarch butterfly population, it acts as a safety net.”

Researchers also found that recommended estimates of between 1.2 and 1.6 billion milkweed stems falls short of supporting butterfly populations— by 50 to 90 percent. Existing conservation models don’t factor in the effects of drought, changes in temperature and the stem’s effective usability by the monarch butterflies.

“Monarchs may need at least three billion stems to reach a safe minimum threshold population of six overwintering hectares,” says Solis-Sosa. The population once covered the equivalent of 18 hectares over its wintering territory nearly 25 years ago, but that hasn’t risen above six over the past decade. The latest measure has dwindled to just 2.3 overwintering hectares.

Communities in Mexico also depend on monarch butterfly ecotourism as an essential part of their livelihoods. “Monarch butterflies also hold a special significance in traditional Mexican culture,” says Solis-Sosa. “They arrive in Mexico by November 2—the Day of the Dead—and symbolize the dead souls of loved ones arriving to comfort them through the dark and cold winter season. Losing the butterfly would represent a cultural loss to the Mexican people.”

Solis-Sosa says their research will help policymakers across North America update conservation strategies and has already led to discussions with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC supports cooperation between North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners to address environmental issues of continental concern.

More information:
Rodrigo Solis-Sosa et al, A Landscape-Level Assessment of Restoration Resource Allocation for the Eastern Monarch Butterfly, Frontiers in Environmental Science (2021). DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2021.634096

Saving the eastern monarch butterfly (2021, May 18)
retrieved 19 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-eastern-monarch-butterfly.html

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