Sydney, Jun 15 : In a remote stretch of bushland north of Darwin, a new collaboration between the CSIRO and Aboriginal rangers is helping scientists across Australia and overseas understand more about changes to the atmosphere.
An ABC News report said the Northern Territory Baseline Atmosphere Pollution Station at Gunn Point, which was opened in 2010, measures all sorts of pollutants in the atmosphere, from greenhouse gases to particles such as those found in smoke and dust.
As part of a programme kicked off earlier this year, Larrakia rangers now take air samples at the station about once a month.CSIRO climate scientist Zoe Loh said this not only helped engage First Nation's people with climate science but led to better results.
"These are people who know this landscape intimately and can tell us about things, patterns of biomass burning, which is really incredibly important for understanding and interpreting our results," she said.
Ms Loh said the Gunn Point station was one of about 50 around the world, including a station at Cape Grimm in Tasmania, feeding in to an international network."We're getting not just a record of the major greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, but we can measure a whole range of other trace gasses, too, that are really important in the global carbon cycle," she said.
"This station, like all of those globally, really show the rise on rise, year on year out of all of the major greenhouse gases," she said. She said the data from the Gunn Point site was particularly valuable as there was an underrepresentation of monitoring sites in the tropics. Most of the monitoring sites globally were in Western Europe or southern latitudes of the southern hemisphere, she said."We know that the tropics are very important in terms of how the earth system is responding to climate," she said.
"There are huge carbon pools that exist in the tropics, and those aren't being measured very effectively at the moment, and we also know that they're quite vulnerable under climate change."Larrakia ranger Tanisha Farrell said the new program provided a different experience from the land management and conservation work she was used to."We set the flask in an airtight facility in the container, and we withdraw the air from the outside, so all that data and the air pollution gets put into a flask and it gets sent away," she said.
The glass flasks of air are sent off to a laboratory in Melbourne, along with air from all around the world, as part of the World Meteorological Organisation's Global Atmospheric Watch programme.She said it had been a learning process and an opportunity to share knowledge across cultures."I was blown away by all the scientists' knowledge and understanding of it. It's special and it's intriguing to know, and hopefully this will run its course in the future [and that] more rangers come," Ms Farrell said.Larrakia ranger Jessica Puntoriero has also been taking samples as part of the programme."It takes a while to get your head around everything, but they've gone through a very thorough process with everything so it's been quite interesting," she said.
Ms Loh said she hoped the new program delivered benefits not just to the scientists and rangers, but the broader community."I think the young women who are doing this sampling for us are starting to learn much more, about climate science and the atmosphere, and they're going to take their knowledge back to their communities and share that science, and I think that's another really important aspect of this collaboration." (UNI)