Closer to understanding severe storms

MORE accurately forecasting and warning of impending severe storm events such as 2011 Toowoomba “inland tsunami” are now a step closer thanks to an Australian Research Council Linkage grant.

The grant will fund research by the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Professor Roger Stone and Dr Shahbaz Mushtaq in close collaboration with Monash University’s Dr Stephen Seims who is the CEO of the project. The Suncorp Group has provided strong support for this project.

Professor Stone said the central objective of the research would be to employ a wide range of field observations to better understand the physical processes, synoptic environment and climatology of severe storms and precipitation events across heavily populated regions of Australia.

“We’ll then use these finding to evaluate and improve numerical and computer simulations of such storms, which will improve our ability to forecast and respond to these types of weather events,” Professor Stone said.

He said severe storms are one of the most poorly understood natural hazards in Australia, even though there is a long history of these events causing the profound loss of life and property.

“The storms of southeast Queensland during the summer of 2010-2011 included flash flooding in the Lockyer Valley that claimed more than 20 lives and the overflow at Wivenhoe Dam led to widespread flooding in Brisbane with the economic damage having been estimated to be in excess of $10 billion.

“This research will lead to an improved physical understanding of severe storms over major Australian cities, which in turn will lead to the ability to more accurately forecast and warn people about these weather events.”

Professor Stone said the first phase of the project will develop an objective radar-based climatology of severe storms using the Bureau of Meteorology’s network of Doppler radars.

“We will then extend the analysis of these severe storms to their synoptic-scale precursors and undertake numerical simulations employing the radar observations, as well as other available observations as a means of evaluation.

“This analysis will assess the ability of simulations to accurately predict the location, timing and intensity of severe storms in major metropolitan areas.

“We’ll then explore the sensitivity of these simulations to the physical parameters with the intent of improving their skill.

“A further objective is to employ a wide range of field observations (insitu cloud microphysics, weather radar, the dual-polarised (CP2) research radar, ground-based and satellite-based) available from the Queensland Cloud Seeding Research Program, the Bureau of Meteorology and elsewhere to better understand the nature of the interaction between precipitation and cloud microphysics.”

CAPTION: Lightening strikes during a severe storm in western Queensland. Photo: W. C. SCOTT.

Queens Park for Botanic Garden status

photoQUEENS Park in Maryborough is set for Regional Botanic Garden status after recently being nominated with Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand.

Fraser Coast Deputy Mayor George Seymour said the move recognises the importance of the heritage-listed park in the heart of Maryborough.

“We recognise and celebrate the historic homes and buildings, but Queens Park also provides an enduring link with our past,” he said.

“And it’s a link that is worth valuing, preserving and celebrating. Maryborough has a proud history and this park has been central to the community over the years.”

The reserve for the park was gazetted 140 years ago in October, 1873.

Cr Seymour said plans are under way to recognise this milestone.

“To celebrate the 140th anniversary of the gazettal of Queens Park, we will be running guided walking tours as part of Maryborough Open House on Saturday, October 26,” he said.

“Over the last 140 years the landscape has remained much the same, but a number of important memorials and aspects have been added. The bandstand rotunda and memorial fountain were erected in 1890.

“The war memorial and memorial gates were added in 1922. These memorials and features add a sense of place among the ancient trees and lush foliage.”

The war memorial was designed by Maryborough architect P.O.E. Hawkes and built by local monumental masonry firm F.W. Webb.

“It’s an idyllic and beautiful park to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings, from the lily pond to the avenues of trees including banyan figs, Poinciana trees, celtis and weeping figs.

“The park is an early example of the state government vesting local authorities with the maintenance and control of public reserves and also features memorials commemorating well-known local citizens, including Richard Bingham Sheridan.”

Prior to its proclamation as a park, the area was the site of a boiling down works operated by Edmund Blucher.

Heritage-listed Queens Park covers 5.2 hectares in the heart of Maryborough, with sweeping river views, rolling green lawns, a waterfall, ornamental flower beds, towering trees and unique heritage features.

On the last Sunday of each month, the Mary Ann (a replica of Queensland’s first steam engine) and several miniature steam engines give children and adults rides around the park. It also runs every Thursday in conjunction with the Maryborough Markets.

“For generations, Queens Park has provided the venue for many happy memories in the heart of Maryborough.  The decision today reflects the need to care for it and protect its valuable heritage,” Cr Seymour said.


Looking back… Queen’s Park in 1908, with the Band Rotunda and the Port Residence in the background.
Looking forward … Queen’s Park in 2013 is one of Maryborough’s most popular locations for wedding photography. Photo: JOCELYN WATTS/ASP PHOTOGRAPHY

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Free family fun at USQ Fraser Coast Open Day

TRADITIONAL Indigenous games, farm animals, crafts and healthy food displays are just some of the many exciting activities people can enjoy while learning about higher education opportunities at the USQ Fraser Coast Open Day this Sunday.

In celebration of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Sunday, August 4), the USQ Open Day will begin with a Butchulla elder doing Welcome to Country. A performance by the Goomblar Aboriginal Dance troupe will follow and education students will run traditional games throughout the day.

USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett Langabeer said the annual Open Day is not only a great opportunity to learn about the latest in course offerings at the Fraser Coast campus, but it also gives people the chance to see what resources are available to students, and provides a day out for families to enjoy.

As well as visiting Old McDonald Travelling Farm, families can enjoy craft activities and join in games, or visit USQ’s new state-of-the-art library and talk to the staff about services including discovering the world through new technology.

In the sciences laboratories and nursing wards, visitors can participate in hands-on activities including physical assessment, equipment and science displays, mobility aids, the Grog Test and the Glitterbug hand washing activity.

Mr Langabeer said that during Open Day, anyone who is thinking about university studies for themselves or their children can find out about USQ’s range of new programs and study areas including the new flexible delivery programs – Associate Degree of Engineering and Associate Degree of Construction (Civil).”

“Members of the public are invited to browse through the information stands for program details on all the degrees that USQ offers including business, law, creative arts, communication, education, health, science, engineering and Indigenous knowledge,” Mr Langabeer said.

“They can hear from the lecturers who will be teaching them and ask all the questions to which they need answers. A visiting law lecturer will be on hand to answer questions for budding lawyers, and career councillors will be available to help those who are unsure about which study or career path to take.

“There will be information on fees, how to apply and the different ways to get into university study, including our Tertiary Preparation Program and TAFE to University options. We’ll also have information on USQ’s Head Start program which allows high school students to study a university subject while still in school.”

USQ’s environmental science and sustainability lecturer Dr Andy Le Brocque and biomedical scientist Professor Lindsay Brown will have an information display and be talking about Eating sustainably: what is the health cost of fast food?, the topic from their Creating Waves Lecture Series at USQ Fraser Coast from 5.30 to 7.30pm, Friday August 2.

USQ Fraser Coast will also welcome about 80 high school students from Biggenden, Eidsvold, Mundubbera, Proston and Gayndah to Open Day as part of the

Uni Life program, which brings rural students to the campus in Hervey Bay where they can experience university life in a coastal setting and see first-hand that the lecturers are approachable and classes smaller compared to large city universities.

The USQ Open Day will run for three hours, from 10am to 1pm. Food and refreshments are available from the campus café, Bella’s Café on the Bay.

Everyone is welcome. For more information about USQ Fraser Coast Open Day, go to

Where: USQ Fraser Coast, 161 Old Maryborough Road, Hervey Bay.

When: 10am to 1pm, Sunday August 4.

CAPTION: USQ Fraser Coast nursing student Irana Gray shows Samantha and Grant Whiteside how the Glitterbug hand washing activity works at last year’s Open Day.