11.9 C
Byron Shire
August 1, 2021

Lismore research centre seeks to solve climate puzzle

Latest News

History repeats

Peter Olson, Goonengerry History shows that when the media and the politicians turn against the people, eventually there is a backlash. It...

Other News

Storylines: Growing hope

Hope is a fragile thing in 2021. With the current pandemic and the uncertainty in so many aspects of life, our hope is being shadowed by fear. It is profoundly affecting our humanity.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning July 28, 2021

It's amazing what you can still go and see and do. Check it out!

Bumbling Berejiklian

Keith Duncan, Pimlico The chooks have certainly come home to roost for the corruption riddled NSW government and ‘our’ scandal plagued...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: A vulnerable freedom

To live in a caring community might sometimes come at the cost of small individual liberties – like wearing a mask in the post office for ten minutes while you complete your transaction.

Kingscliff’s new ambulance station won’t be on State Significant Farmland

Concerns over the new Kingscliff Ambulance station being placed on State Significant Farmland were raised following the announcement of funding for the new ambulance station by Health Minister Brad Hazzard earlier this month.

Vehicle access to Unicorn Falls to close

President of the recently formed Byron Hikers Club says a ‘controversy is brewing’ around National Parks’ recently announced plans to close vehicle access to Unicorn Falls, located on South Chowan Road behind Upper Main Arm.

Member of Australia’s first Arctic expedition navigates an ice-filled sea. The 1,000 km sea kayak expedition travelled through early winter. Image from Savage Coast
Member of Australia’s first Arctic expedition navigates an ice-filled sea. The 1,000 km sea kayak expedition travelled through early winter. Image from Savage Coast

Lismore has just become the capital of Australia’s first international climate and oceanic research organisation – and its founder has set a very high bar for its first expedition.

The Oceanic Research Institute will operate oceanic and climate research expeditions in the Pacific and the Arctic.

It is headed by Earle de Blonville, who led the first Australian expedition to the region back in 1985-6.

The institute’s first expeditions will be to the Arctic to try and discover one of the greatest puzzles of modern climate science: why the frozen coast of East Greenland is melting so fast given that surface temperatures there haven’t been noticeably rising.

It will be the first-ever scientific investigation of the region and the results will be of significance to climate scientists globally, according to Mr de Blonville.

Massive ice melt

‘On the east coast of Greenland, surface temperatures are not increasing as the polar current sends supercooled water running through the sea that keeps Greenland super cold,’ Mr de Blonville told Echonetdaily.

‘Yet Greenland contributes 65 per cent of ice melt – far greater than the Antarctic – that is driving sea level rise,’ he said.

‘Over the last four years, Greenland has tipped one trillion tons of ice into the sea. When melted, that’s enough water to refill the whole of Sydney Harbour 240 times, and will help create more Cyclone Debbies,’ he added.

Mr de Blonville said the main theory currently circulating is that a small breakaway stream from the Jetstream, known as the Irminger Current, had changed course and was now ‘running across south Iceland and maybe coming up into fjords’.

‘The purpose of the expedition is to “ground truth” this theory,’ he said.

The Oceanic Research Institute’s explorers are an international team of experts, from NASA in the US, LAB in Spain and our own Southern Cross University in Lismore.

The expedition support vessel, named after the wife of Australia’s greatest polar explorer (John Rymill) The coast of East Greenland is the world’s biggest melt zone, and yet is largely unknown to science. Image from Savavge Coast
The expedition support vessel, named after the wife of Australia’s greatest polar explorer (John Rymill). The coast of East Greenland is the world’s biggest melt zone, and yet is largely unknown to science. Image from Savavge Coast

Wooden sailing ships

The institute is also unique because it is the only climate and oceanic organisation in the world to operate aboard classic wooden sailing vessels.

Their flagship is a massive 34m Baltic schooner, launched in 1913 and built for ice navigation.

‘Being made of solid oak, it is the only truly sustainable research vessel in the world. Operating under sail, it aims for zero carbon and acoustic emissions, which is vital when studying whales,’ Mr de Blonville said.

Fundraising film nights

The work of the institute is being funded privately through sponsorship and fundraising efforts.

To help raise funds, it is staging a series of film evenings in our region during September.

The film, Savage Coast, is a documentary made of the original 1985-6 expedition led by Mr de Blonville.

It tells the tale of a 1,000km sea kayak voyage, which its four-man team miraculously survived during winter snow storms blowing 260kph (140knots).

Shot in East Greenland, and distributed internationally through major broadcasters at the time, it is the first chance to see the film for many years.

Filmgoers will see what the uninhabited Greenland wilderness looked like before the massive melt began.

The one-hour film will be introduced Mr de Blonville, who was the then expedition leader, and afterwards there will be a Q&A session where the audience can gain unbiased insights into both the challenges and the opportunities offered by climate crisis.

Screening dates & times

Kyogle Cinemas, Kyogle (September 5); Star Court Theatre, Lismore (September 15); A&I Theatre, Bangalow (September 28).

Tickets at the door.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Given that a metric ton of ice is about one cubic metre, this means that a billion (10^9) cubic metres equals one cubic kilometer. So a trillion tons is about 1,000 cubic kilometers.
    A “Sydharb” (volume of water in Sydney harbour and the most irregular shaped volume measurement you can get) equals about half a cubic kilometer. So one trillion tons means enough water to fill Sydney harbour 2,000 times over. It is also enough to raise world sea levels by 2.5mm.
    Let’s hope Mr de Blonville can work on his arithmetic while overseas.

    Good luck and fair sailing to them.

  2. G’day Lismore folk et al.,

    The heat melting that ice is coming up through the rocks below. The notion that warm water is getting in from the sea is wonderful, as it means in Greenland, that water has to move vertically uphill 1,000 metres, to the highest altitude of known melting. Core mantle boundary magnetic shifts are driving this very real climate change, not carbon. Burning fossil fuels is an idiotic waste of superb resources, but not burning them will not control the climate. Have a 3,000 page report, ten years independent full-time work, always offered free on a DVD or usb stick, so far -zero takers. Carbonism is the new global religion.

    Peter Ravenscroft,


    Closeburn, Qld

    Phone No is 07 3289 4470, email: [email protected]

  3. Thanks to John Browne for the correction on Sydharb volume. I will check this with the engineers at Rous Water (Lismore region authority) who provided the original estimate. Readers may have missed other inaccuracies, such as the Irminger current being connected to the Jetstream. That’s the journo’s own idea.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Byron beach erosion

Ann Tiernan, Suffolk Park I strongly disagree with Council’s position stated in last week’s Echo that ‘The sand (at Clarkes Beach) will come back, but it...

A day of ‘thank you’

Alison Drover, Broken Head How about a day of ‘thank you’ to our health workers and ‘sorry’ from our prime minister and ‘please’ from the community? Instead...

Nolan’s Soapbox

Duncan Shipley-Smith, Byron Bay The sinister suggestion by Nolan in last week’s Echo conflating anti-vaccination supporters with extreme right-wing ideology (XRW) demands a response. This is...

Shooting in Nimbin

There is a police operation currently underway in Nimbin following a shooting earlier today.