Friday, 28 April 2017
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Trump signs order authorizing offshore oil drilling

Added: 28.04.2017 16:59 | 6 views | 0 comments

President Trump signed an executive order authorizing drilling off the coast of Alaska, and other offshore locations in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, on April 28 at the White House.

Air Force launches unarmed missile for test in California

Added: 26.04.2017 9:21 | 6 views | 0 comments

An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile has been launched from a U.S. Air Force Base in California on a flight to a target in the Pacific Ocean.


Google's set to unveil a new Earth experience, possibly bringing Daydream support

Added: 13.04.2017 15:38 | 9 views | 0 comments

Google Earth has always been one of the most ambitious projects in the company’s repertoire, attempting to provide an exhaustive tour of the entire planet, from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the heights of Mt. Everest. And now to celebrate Earth Day, Google is looking to take it to the next level.
According to an invitation sent to and other media outlets, the search giant is planning to unveil a “brand new experience” for Google Earth on April 18 at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City, ahead of Earth Day on April 22. While there aren’t too many details, the announcement says Google will be unveiling “the new Google Earth,” which will is almost certain to bring the HTC Vive-exclusive Google Earth VR app to Daydream.


| 'Like a jumbo jet on my roof': Cyclone Debbie hits north-east Australia – as it happened

Added: 12.04.2017 16:00 | 9 views | 0 comments

The eye of one of Queensland’s worst storms in years hit the mainland between Bowen and Airlie Beach moving south-west at 12km/h

We’ll be winding up this blog soon, but will continue coverage of the cyclone as it continues its path over Queensland. This is what is known now:

⚠ REMINDER: Stay inside and stay off the roads until it's safe .

Reports are starting to come in from areas which have now been passed over by the cyclone.
The Hamilton Island authority says there were no injuries reported in the Whitsundays.

Update: Please see attached image

Several roads around Cannon Valley, Proserpine, and south of Proserpine, are closed because of flooding.

Flooding down Foxlee Street as eye of passes over. Taken by a friend of mine

Flood gauge network recording heavy falls west of Mackay with 72mm in past hour at Clarke range alert. Falls of 20 to 41mm around Proserpine

Major Warning for the and Warning for the

Council will resume normal bin collection services tomorrow Wednesday 29 March.

The Proserpine-based Whitsundays councillor John Collins said the initial winds of the cyclone sounded “like a jumbo jet is parked on my roof”.
“I’ve been through a few cyclones that are quick and nasty but this one is going to go all day,” he told AAP. “It’s a long wait, sitting here waiting while it tears everything up.”

Going, going, gone! Wouldn't want to be hit by that at 115km/ph

Cyclone Debbie has been downgraded to a category-three storm.
It’s now estimated to be 45km south-east of Bowen and 10km north-west of Proserpine, moving south-west at 13km/h.

“We’ve got three broken windows now, so the rooms are totalled,” a Proserpine resident, Sue, has told ABC about the moment her neighbour’s roof smashed into her house. “We’ve got water coming down the hallway … the doors are shaking.”

LISTEN: Sue from Proserpine describes the moment the full force of was felt

Before and after: Beautiful one day, cyclonic the next

The media conference is now over but you can rewatch it here.

Palaszczuk has met with local mayors and said they have been kept up to date. She said lessons had been learned from previous cyclones.
“The mood is one of uncertainty,” she said.

The threat of storm surge in Mackay has passed for now, a spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology has said: “By a whisker we’ve missed out.”
The surge is increasing but the tide is dropping and it’s believed the threat has passed. Some communities have faced some water inundation.

The police commissioner has warned there may be deaths from this cyclone.
One man has been “hurt badly” by a collapsing wall in Proserpine and has been taken to hospital, Stewart has confirmed.

The Queensland police commissioner, Ian Stewart, has urged people to stay off the roads if they don’t need to go out in the aftermath of the cyclone, to leave them free for emergency services.
“Stay at home, start to clean up your own area, but leave the roads and other tasks to emergency services personnel.”

More than 45,000 homes are without power and major trees are down, the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has just said.
There have also been preliminary reports of serious damage to structures in Proserpine.

The view from Beach.

Once the cyclone drops down to a tropical low, around Wednesday, it’s expected to move south-east and bring rain to inland regions, the Bureau of Rainfall has reached 80mm an hour in some inland areas and it’s expected to reach up to 200m an hour or even higher.

The disaster monitoring service has shared what it says is footage of Cyclone Debbie, captured by the International Space Station as it moved over the Pacific Ocean. It is truly breathtaking.

Michael Shaw in Airlie Beach has sent us this video, showing the strength of the cyclone winds and damage they have caused to his home.

Wild winds and damage in Airlie Beach. Video: Michael Shaw

This high-definition image is from the Himawari-8 satellite, taken a little while ago as the cyclone crossed the north Queensland coast.

Federal assistance has already been mobilised, in a number of different ways, ministers have told parliament this afternoon. From AAP:
HMAS Choules is on the way to provide emergency assistance, and 1,000 ADF members have been deployed or are on standby to assist, according to the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Rosalind Willcocks, who owns a caravan park at Hideaway Bay, halfway between Bowen and Airlie Beach, says the cyclone has “absolutely ripped us to shreds”.
The Hydeaway Bay Caravan and Camping Park is a couple of hundred metres from the oceanfront, close to the point where Cyclone Debbie hit the mainland.

The insurance industry peak body has officially declared Cyclone Debbie a catastrophe.
The Insurance Council of Australia’s declaration triggers the establishment of a taskforce, the opening of an emergency hotline and the mobilisation of staff to work directly with local services and policy holders.

Insurer's peak body declared a catastrophe, first of thousands of expected claims already coming in

With the eye of the cyclone passing just north of Airlie Beach, resident Tony Fontes reported a typical, deceptive moment of respite from roaring winds and driving rain.
He sent the following text about 45 minutes ago.

There are reports of people attempting to go for a surf at Airlie Beach – or if we are looking at this image, standing by the shore contemplating going in.
Either way, not clever.

What is this clown doing??? There's debris flying everywhere and this guys going for a surf!!

The hardy residents of Far North Queensland and the perils of live television.....

Mackay is really copping it now.

arrives in

Here are a few snaps and clips from around the cyclone-affected region.
“It’s been a long night and day,” Rebecca Nicol tells Guardian Australia.

Rebecca Nicol has sent in this clip from Airlie Beach.

Just heard part of the awning from the building next door fly down the street in Bowen.

Damage to boats at Airlie Beach. Shot from hotel room. Eye just passed over. Round two coming.

It's eerily quiet here now as we enter the eye of the storm. Fences and trees down.

From AAP:
Residents in the path of Cyclone Debbie could be waiting until Wednesday for emergency help, as the destructive slow-moving storm keeps the region in lockdown for hours.

Here is the latest tracking map from the Bureau of Meteorology. Debbie has just made landfall between Airlie Beach and Bowen as a category-four cyclone.

is crossing the coast between and . Stay updated at

If you have taken video or photos of Cyclone Debbie, please send them through to We would love to run them on the site.
This request is only if you are able to do so safely. Please don’t take any risks.

The eye of Cyclone Debbie has now reached mainland Queensland, making landfall between Bowen and Airlie Beach.
It’s estimated to be 50km east south-east of Bowen and 30km north-east of Proserpine. It has picked up speed slightly but remains very slow, moving south-west at 12km/h.

URGENT: starting to make landfall btwn Bowen & Airlie Beach. If winds stop, you are only in Eye. DO NOT GO OUTSIDE.

Operators of the Kinchant dam at Mackay have begun releasing water after the heavy rains brought by the cyclone sent it beyond capacity overnight.
Colin Bendall, executive general manager of operations and services at SunWater, this was a routine action in response to a full dam, and they began releasing water about 11.30pm Monday.

As of half an hour ago, Cyclone Debbie remained a category-four storm, sitting about 35km north-west of Hamilton Island and 65km east of Bowen. It’s moving at a very slow 9km/h.
At the centre of the cyclone the BoM has recorded sustained winds of 185km/h with gusts to 260km/h.

impacting Airlie Beach this morning. Conditions will intensify as the system moves closer. Stay inside. Stay safe.

Hello, this is Helen Davidson, taking over the live coverage of Cyclone Debbie for the next few hours.
I’ll get a summary of the current situation up shortly, as the storm moves ever so slowly over the Queensland coast.

Hope everyone in Queensland stays safe & sound. Just for once I'll say "c'mon Queenslander !" One of the most beautiful places on the planet

A Whitsunday regional councillor, Mike Brunker, who is based in Bowen, said there was “huge concern” about the ability of the town’s older buildings to withstand the cyclone’s onslaught.
The last time Bowen, population 10,000, was rebuilt after a major cyclone was in 1958, when it was “wiped nearly off the map”, Brunker said.

I’m handing over our coverage to reporter Helen Davidson, who will continue to monitor Cyclone Debbie as it continues its slow crawl toward the north Queensland coast.

Wind gusts have , as the eye wall of Cyclone Debbie continues to move slowly through the Whitsundays.
This footage from Instagram user Tarin Moloney gives a sense of what it’s like for those on the island right now. Moloney said the pressure from the wind was making her ears pop.

Queensland Health has activated emergency operation centres and says hospitals remain open, despite the loss of power, including in Townsville and Mackay.

- Hospitals remain open incl. &
- Health Emergency Operations Centres have been activated.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services deputy commissioner Mark Roche said he had not yet received reports of widespread structural devastation. But he said his staff would not go outside until the winds reduce to at least 80km/h.
“We are seeing some of the footage coming from areas like Hamilton Island. A lot of wind, a lot of rain,” he told the ABC.

Yachts moored off of Airlie Beach are already being pushed around by Cyclone Debbie, well before the most destructive winds are forecast. Channel Seven has just posted this footage of a yacht being pushed into the breakwater.

Amazing footage of a yacht slamming into the breakwater wall at Airlie Beach, QLD

Police staffing triple-zero calls have told of increasingly panicked calls for help, according to AAP.
One caller said the roof was lifting off an apartment building in the Whitsunday region. Another caller from the region is sheltering in the laundry of a home whose roof has caved in.

The Bureau of Meteorology has just confirmed on radio the landfall time of is likely to be around 2pm.

Powerlines are reportedly down in Mackay and police are pleading with residents to stay inside. Thousands of homes remain without power in the town.

Power line across the road at Pollock Street in North Mackay

Mackay police are urging to STAY SHELTERED. Fallen powerlines are a hazard, many still LIVE. Please stay off the roads

Debris is flying through the air in Airlie Beach. AAP photographer, Dan Peled, said the power is also out.
“We just had a branch fly into our window,” Peled said from his room at a local hotel.
“We’ve got howling winds, torrential rain. The trees are sideways. There’s lots of vegetation debris and there’s a bit of water in the hallway. We’re just looking at a wall of white with the trees, we can’t see much. It’s full on.”

Palm trees getting a good workout in from

Large waves are being recorded across the north Queensland coast. Waves of up to eight metres were recorded by buoys off Mackay overnight. WeatherZone said that had only happened three times in the site’s history.

at is getting a thrashing - with sea foam being thrown around the banks.

Australian Red Cross volunteers are supporting residents at shelters in Bowen and Townsville. The Red Cross is also working with the Queensland government to support those affected by the cyclone and has launched its Register.Find.Reunite service, which will help connect friends and family during and after the cyclone. Its state director, Leisa Bourne, said:
“We’re asking everyone in cyclone-affected areas to do three important things: stay safe, let people know where you are, and look out for your neighbours.”

: fairly sleepless night in Bowen Shelter where volunteers Vaurian and Danielle are looking after 270 folks sleeping on the floor

We’re supporting 148 ppl in Bowen Cyclone Shelter and 21 in Townsville Cyclone Shelter right now as residents seek safety from

James Cook University’s cyclone testing station is seeking to learn from the cyclone.
The centre’s director, David Henderson, said his staff had placed wind measurement devices on homes up and down the coast, to test how the buildings cope with long-lasting, turbulent conditions.

Daniel McMahon sent in this pic of the view at Hamilton Island

Tony Fontes is a dive tourism operator in Airlie Beach who lives about 500 metres from the ocean – “but you can’t see it”.
“It’s a whiteout,” he said. “You can’t see much, just a lot of rain.”

Vision continues to emerge from Hamilton Island, which is being hit by wind gusts of more than 200km/h. Visitors to the popular tourist destination largely get around on golf buggies. This video, from Twitter user Elisa Clements, shows a buggy flipped by the destructive winds.

Golf buggy down +200km wind

Almost 400 schools and childcare centres in north Queensland have been closed.
The state government said 131 state schools, 49 Catholic and independent schools, and 211 early childhood centres have shut their doors from north of Townsville to south of Proserpine.

I mentioned early that Hamilton Island had experienced wind gusts of 222km/h. Let’s put that in perspective. Hamilton Island has not experienced winds that strong for 15 years, according to Fairfax’s WeatherZone.

Hamilton Island's wind gust of 222km/h at 8:12am is their strongest in at least 15 years

There is further information to hand about power outages along the coast. Ergon Energy says that 23,000 homes are now without power, mostly in Mackay and the Whitsundays. More homes will lose power as the cyclone makes landfall.
Ergon Energy’s communications manager, John Fowler, said power would not be restored today. He said it was difficult to estimate when power may return.

8:35 am. Picking up... slowly. Winds strong but not destructive yet in . 986 mb & finally dropping!

The worst of the cyclone is still being felt in the Whitsundays.
Twitter user @sfdansmith captured this extraordinary footage from his room in the Reef View Hotel on Hamilton Island.

In the feeder bands

Mackay and other areas south of the cyclone are now in low tide. But the cyclone will see a storm tide of 1.5 metres above normal levels. That will create problems over the next few hours, when the cyclone makes landfall and the high tide returns.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Adam Morgan said the tide was a significant risk to the safety of residents.

from increasing at and . Dangerous stormtide possible, crossing near high tide. Source: DSITI

Listen to the screeching winds audible in this video from Hamilton Island. The record winds of 180km/h and gusts of 222km/h on Hamilton.

Hour 5 and winds STILL picking up on Hamilton Island as crawls to coast, building shaking windows smashing

Whitsunday regional council’s mayor, Andrew Wilcox, is reporting horizontal, torrential rain outside his home. He said 11,000 homes in his region were without power.
Wilcox told the ABC that people should not venture outside, and that “there is nowhere to go anyway”.

Category 4 moving WSW towards the coast. Crossing expected after midday. Latest warnings:

There are reports of power outages already affecting the coast. reports power lost to thousands of homes in Mackay, Airlie Beach, Bowen, and other nearby areas.
Minor flooding has also begun in Mackay.

Low level flooding just starting in . Ducks are happy.

Journalists covering the approach of Cyclone Debbie have been criticised for ignoring warnings to stay inside.
A Whitsunday Shire councillor, Mike Brunker, says television journalists covering Cyclone Debbie should “pull their heads in” and stay indoors for safety’s sake.

Nine reporter unable to give opinions of locals as everyone's inside.Take a hint dude and get out of it

TV reporter standing outside: "Stay indoors".

This morning’s first satellite images of Cyclone Debbie are beginning to emerge from Japan’s Himawari series of satellites.
The images are being updated every 10 minutes, and , or, for better quality, .

First visible images from of as the sun rises over eastern .

The says the eye wall of Cyclone Debbie is beginning to impact on parts of the Whitsunday Islands. The cyclone is inching towards the coast at a slow 6km/h, the bureau said. It is currently 85km east-northeast of Bowen and 60km north of Hamilton Island, and is forecast to make landfall between Ayr and Midge Point about midday. Incredibly, 194mm of rainfall has been recorded at Strathdickie, near Proserpine, in one hour.
Wind gusts of 200km/h have been recorded at Hamilton Island airport.

MACKAY: There have been 8 metre waves recorded off local beaches due to the serious weather system.

Queensland’s police commissioner, Ian Stewart, is warning the worst of Cyclone Debbie is yet to come. Stewart said the cyclone is moving very slowly and its destructive core is still to pass over the coast. He also warned residents to prepare for a long day inside.
“The main core area of the cyclone – so that’s the area with the very, very high and destructive winds – really has not passed generally over the coast,” Stewart told the ABC.

A Bureau of Meteorology forecaster, Adam Morgan, has urged residents in the cyclone’s path to stay inside. He said in Hamilton Island, peak wind gusts of 189km/h have been recorded. Incredibly strong winds of more than 100km/h have been recorded continuously since 9pm Monday.

: Powerful winds at Hamilton Island. Cyclone Debbie forecast to make landfall around 1pm.

The force of the winds in Mackay is already causing damage. The record winds of 65km/h, and gusts of up to 89km/h. That’s still far below what’s forecast for Cyclone Debbie.

Tree down just outside the ABC Mackay building! Lucky we all moved our cars!

The impact of Cyclone Debbie is now being felt most on the Whitsundays, the popular holiday islands off the north Queensland coast. The Queensland deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said he had received reports of roof damage at police facilities in the Whitsundays region.
“We’re getting some reports already of roofs starting to lift, including at some of our own facilities in the Whitsundays,” he told the ABC.

Extremely windy here on - our balcony on the first floor is covered in sand. No major damage apparent yet.

The latest rainfall figures on the Bureau of Meteorology site are pretty astonishing. 89.2mm has fallen since 9am on Monday. 76.8mm of rain during the same time, and .

Rain in Bowen, sound is deafening. expected to hit at noon or 1pm

Mackay’s mayor, Greg Williamson, has tried to clarify confusion over whether cyclone evacuation centres in the town are open. Williamson said evacuation centres wouild open only after the cyclone has passed. He said authorities do not want residents on the road while the cyclone is still active.
Williamson used a colourful turn of phrase to describe the night in Mackay.

Red Zone in South Mackay. Wind is starting to roar.

Vision of turbulent winds and rain in tourist hotspot Airlie Beach has begun to emerge.

WATCH: This is Main Street on Airlie beach. They are currently being battered by huge winds due to Cyclone

While many in Queensland are doing everything they can to get out of Debbie’s path, others are rushing towards it.
Josh Morgerman is a US cyclone chaser who came to Queensland to experience the category-four storm. Morgerman is now in Bowen, where the destructive core of the storm is due to hit. He has described conditions at 6.30am local time as “turbulent but nothing too crazy yet”.

6:30 am. Daybreak in . lurking just offshore. 988.3 mb.

The latest radar image from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Bowen radar shows the extent of rainfall expected between Mackay in the south and Townsville further north. In some areas, 33cm of rain is expected to fall on Tuesday. The deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, gave us a sense of the scale of the expected rainfall.
“That is absolutely astronomical,” Joyce told ABC radio.

as seen on the radar. The loop clearly shows convective bands pushing onto the coast.

Far north Queensland sees more than its fair share of tropical cyclones. So how are homes in the region built to withstand destructive winds? James Cook University’s cyclone testing station research director, John Ginger, said homes built since the mid-1980s, under improved building standards, would be able to withstand Debbie.
“Houses built in the cyclonic regions of Queensland to improved building standards since the mid-1980s can be expected to withstand wind-loads forecast in TC Debbie,” Ginger said.

The that engine problems in two of the navy’s largest ships – the amphibious assault ships HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide – have rendered them unable to assist in the Cyclone Debbie response. Labor has described that as “very, very troubling”. The deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, has just told ABC radio that another vessel, HMAS Choules, has been deployed instead and will arrive in the region in time.
“That’s how you manage things, if one isn’t available you send the other one,” Joyce said.

Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has just appeared on ABC to urge residents to stay safe, and prepare for a long day. She warned residents against being lulled into a false sense of security when the eye of the storm passes over.
“People will see some daylight and think that the worst of the storm has passed. Once again, I must urge everyone to stay indoors for most of today,” Palaszczuk said.

Many residents in the cyclone’s path have chosen to stay put. Emergency services are advising them to bunker down, keep in contact and be prepared for a loss of power.
If the winds die down, residents are urged not to go outside. It may just be a brief lull in the storm.

This is the view of Cyclone Debbie from space as it bears down on north Queensland.

Cyclone Debbie is the worst tropical cyclone to hit Queensland since Cyclone Yasi in 2011. Yasi was a category-five tropical cyclone, which wiped out almost $1bn worth of crops and agriculture, destroyed yachts at Port Hinchinbrook, and caused the death of a man who was asphyxiated by fumes while sheltering inside with his generator.
This picture serves as a reminder of the force of Yasi, which tossed yachts about at the Hinchinbrook marina in early 2011.

Speaking of Mackay, 25,000 residents were urged to evacuate from the town’s low-lying areas on Monday. It is unclear how many followed that advice. Gollschewski said that would “become more clear this morning as we are able to connect with our people up there”. A big concern in Mackay is the coming storm tide, which is expected to flood low-lying areas. The Bureau of Meteorology is warning that the storm tide is increasing at Laguna Quays and Mackay.

from increasing at and . Dangerous stormtide possible, crossing near high tide. Source: DSITI

A Queensland police deputy commissioner, Steve Gollschewski, said emergency services were now focusing their attention on the Bowen-Whitsunday area. He said the region had been entirely locked down. Requests for help in the area could no longer be responded to, he said.
“People have to be inside,” he told the ABC. “Our officers and emergency services have withdrawn. They cannot respond any that area.”

The latest report from AAP suggests the cyclone will make landfall near Bowen about 1pm, later than originally expected. Debbie has apparently slowed as it moves toward the coast, reducing the risk from the expected storm surge. AAP reporter, Shae McDonald, is at the popular backpacker destination, Airlie Beach. She reported the wind continued to increase throughout Monday night, making it difficult for many residents to sleep. The town and surrounding regions lost power at different points overnight, and alarms at the hotel were set off, only to be drowned out by the wind.

The gathering storm clouds made for a beautiful, ominous sunset in the town of Ayr last night.

Cyclone Debbie, predicted to be the most destructive storm in Australia for six years, is due to cross the Queensland coast near Ayr on Tuesday morning. Follow all the developments with our live coverage throughout the day.

By 5am local time, Cyclone Debbie had already begun to impact the Whitsunday Islands. Destructive wind gusts of more than 120km/h were hitting the region, and the Bureau of Meteorology predicts the winds will extend further to the coast and islands between Ayr and Sarina throughout the morning. Damaging winds were hitting the popular holiday destination of Hamilton Island. There have been cancellations to flights to and from the island, and the local school has been closed today. The BoM’s latest advice is that the cyclone is moving west-south-west at 9km/h.

Severe , category 4, is approaching the Whitsunday Islands. Winds increasing at , now 94km/h.

Cyclone Debbie has been upgraded to a category four tropical cyclone, and is continuing to hurtle towards the far north Queensland coast. The latest information from the Bureau of Meteorology suggests its destructive core will make landfall between Ayr and Midge Point in the late morning. The cyclone is expected to bring wind gusts of up to 260km/h near its centre. Residents are being warned of a dangerous storm tide, which will continue to steadily rise as the cyclone approaches. The tide will bring damaging waves, strong currents and the flooding of low-lying areas.
Please stay safe out there. If it is safe to do so, let us know how your area is affected. Send us pictures or describe your experience in an email to We’ll continue to bring you updates as the situation develops.

loop coinciding with wind visualisation from . Satellite images:

Into the DNA of a coral reef predator

Added: 11.04.2017 0:33 | 3 views | 0 comments

Researchers have sequenced and decoded for the first time the genome of the crown-of-thorns starfish, paving the way for the biocontrol of this invasive predator responsible for the destruction of coral reefs across Indo-Pacific oceans.


Into the DNA of a coral reef predator

Added: 11.04.2017 0:33 | 0 views | 0 comments

Researchers have sequenced and decoded for the first time the genome of the crown-of-thorns starfish, paving the way for the biocontrol of this invasive predator responsible for the destruction of coral reefs across Indo-Pacific oceans.


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