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Director's update


February 2017

Welcome to the February TERN Newsletter, which is being sent to you just as the TERN Executive Group moves into the second day of its annual two day planning workshop. The February 2017 workshop’s focus is on the changes necessary over the next 12 to 24 months for TERN to prepare for its integration into a national Environmental Prediction System, one of the nine focus areas of the Commonwealth Government’s Draft 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. Achievement of such an environmental prediction system will necessitate NCRIS research infrastructure groups working in the environmental area, which includes TERN, to collaborate and integrate observations, predictive modelling and uncertainty assessments for a broad range of research and industry applications. Predicting impacts on environmental systems will underpin strategic decisions for the management of our continent and surrounding oceans including the development of early adaptions to climate change for domestic and global sustainable growth.

Happily TERN is already contributing to a national environmental prediction system and some examples are captured in our February newsletter with articles such as the imaginatively named Raincoat for a Rainforest. Here, TERN’s environmental monitoring sites in Far North Queensland take front stage in a simulation of the effects of drought, a scenario of future climate change and vital for planners wishing to predict how drought might decrease the capacity of rainforests to store carbon and sustain biodiversity.

Our regular People using TERN showcases Andrew Edwards from Charles Darwin University who, before TERN, lacked tools and methods for remotely mapping fire severity, relying instead on coarse assessments based on fire seasonality. Now Andrew and his colleagues use nation-wide pre-processed satellite imagery derived products from TERN that show the areas burnt by fires, together with field data, to create fire severity maps of Australia’s Top End. These have proven so reliable they are included by the respected NAFI in its fire information system for monitoring and mapping the extent and timing of fires across Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

In the story TERN teams up with Google, we show how TERN’s demonstrated capability has brought it and Google together again, this time as collaborators to make Australia’s soil and landscapes information available through the Google Earth Engine. Previously, some of TERN’s remotely sensed vegetation monitoring products, including ground cover data, became available via Google Earth Engine to the benefit of land managers wishing to determine if vegetation is in a healthy condition or being impacted by things like pests, diseases, fire or feral animals.

We wish you happy reading of these stories of TERN’s contributions towards an environmental prediction system.

Dr Beryl Morris

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