Graphic

These climate stripes, shared on social media by The Climate Council, show rising average annual temperatures across the world. A new stripe has been added for 2023, the hottest year on record.

Professor Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at NCAS, University of Reading, has published the first updated climate stripes image for the globe using the latest interim data for 2023. The stripe representing 2023 will require the darkest red colour from the current scale.

But when 2023 is confirmed as the warmest global year on record by a wide margin the darkest shade of red will not tell the full story, Professor Hawkins said.
“The colours used in the climate stripes are based on a scale designed to show which years are warmer and cooler than the average,” Professor Hawkins said. “2023 was off the end of the scale.”

He added: “This was always going to happen at some point, given the continued increase in global greenhouse gases, and is in line with what scientists have been predicting for decades. But the margin of record breaking in 2023 has still been a surprise.

“The climate stripes are all about starting conversations about climate change, and 2024 has to be the year we turn conversations into faster action. The good news is that we already have many of the solutions we need. We now need bold, transformative change across all parts of society to make our planet’s climate safer for current and future generations.”

That’s from the university’s press release in January this year.

Cooler years are blue, warmer years are red. They are measured against the average of the period 1971-2000, which is why the middle of the chart is mostly pale blue. (If the reference period was, e.g., 1880-1910, almost the whole of the chart would be red.) There’s a much more detailed explanation at www.science.smith.edu/climatelit/warming-stripes/

The chart also shows us, if we think about it, why global warming is more of a real-daily-life experience for older people who have lived in the same place for most of their lives than it is for younger people.

Readers can explore, download and share stripes for their own part of the world from showyourstripes.info/l/globe. Here’s Brisbane’s:

hawkins climate stripes

Tiny fly, tinier prey

fly and prey
Fly and prey

“But the predators, the carnivores, come in all sizes from Scrub Turkeys down to the tiny metallic green-gold flies we see around the garden all the time. They are aerial hunters, like miniature dragonflies, and if we had a microscope we might even see their prey,” I said in my previous post.

I had included a photo of one of those little Long-legged Flies, Dolichopodidae, in the post before that, to illustrate the limits of my smartphone camera. The flies are about 5 mm long, quite a bit smaller than a house fly, and I wasn’t surprised that the smartphone struggled to capture them.

In one of those happy coincidences that life sometimes tosses our way, I was in the garden yesterday afternoon with my DSLR and its +4 close-up filter when one of these flies landed on a well-lit leaf conveniently in front of me and stayed there (mostly) while I took photos. And when I looked at them I saw the fly’s prey, impaled on its proboscis.

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Small-game safari

• I wrote this essay at the invitation of Jo Stacey to accompany her art exhibition, Creatures of Compost, at Murky Waters gallery, Townsville. Here I have added photos and links (all within Green Path) to it. The show opened on Friday May 3 and is open on Sunday mornings until May 26. More information, including details of a hands-on workshop, on the gallery’s Facebook page.

Jo Stacey: Creatures of Compost

Getting out into the natural world is something I’ve enjoyed since I was old enough for my parents to trust me out of their sight. My natural world expanded as my independence grew, from the back yard to the rest of the farm, then to anywhere in pushbike and (eventually) motor vehicle range, but the back yard is always the most accessible.

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Smartphone macrophotography

This is a follow-up to Photographing insects with your phone (2020), bringing it up to date by seeing what a current mid-range phone can do.

In Cameras for rambling greenies (2021) on my other blog I floated the idea that smartphones would soon become good backup cameras. The impending obsolescence of my phone made me look into that more seriously and put ‘good camera’ near the top of what I wanted in my new phone. Recommendations on tech sites and from friends led me to a Pixel 8.

Insects

I’ve been wandering round the garden with it, seeing how well it goes with insects and flowers. My conclusions in 2020 were that smartphone insect photography was worthwhile so long as you bear three rules in mind:

  • Rule 1: Get as close as you can.
  • Rule 2: Zooming in doesn’t help much because “digital zoom” makes your subject look bigger on screen but doesn’t capture any more detail.
  • Rule 3: Be prepared to crop the image drastically if your subject is small.

First impressions of the Pixel 8 is that the camera is indeed better but its faults and limitations are similar. That is, I’m seeing an evolution, not a revolution. Here are a few of its best efforts with very small subjects, showing the camera hitting its limits.

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Sunrise from Mount Stuart

Mount Stuart dominates Townsville’s skyline and the views from its summit are well worth the drive through Wulguru and up the winding access road. Anyone arriving before dawn on a clear dry-season day, as I did on Monday, is doubly rewarded: sunrise is spectacularly beautiful.

These views appear in sequence from pre-sunrise, just before 6.30, to full daylight. Most of them look towards the sunrise from the carpark side of the summit; only one of them (Magnetic Island) is from the Lookout.

Mt Elliott from Mt Stuart
Mt Elliott from Mt Stuart

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