Case Studies

Case Studies

There's an important distinction between climate change and climate change adaptation. Research into climate change looks at questions of how the climate is changing and how this change will affect the environment. Climate change adaptation looks at how we can respond to these changes – how we can reduce the impacts of stresses on human and natural systems including our cities and regions, our agriculture and aquaculture, and the biodiversity of our environment, and how we can harness any beneficial opportunities. In other words, what should we do to prepare and adapt?

Imagine you work for the Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, and you're working on the next 20-year regional plan for Southeast Queensland. Where do you find out about the options you might have for managing risks and increasing the region's resilience? Climate change adaption is a new field of research. There are some research reports available, if you can identify them, but you may have to wade through 600 densely written pages in each report to find the information you're looking for. There may also be some grey literature and case studies from other regions outlining responses they have taken to climate change, but finding any that are relevant to you may be extremely difficult.

QRIScloud is helping Professor David Lambert of Griffith University’s Environmental Futures Centre to solve a real dilemma: what do you do with the 50TB of DNA sequence data you’re expecting when it comes back from the sequence lab on hard disks? Where will you put it so you can work with it?

Professor Lambert and his team, in partnership with the Beijing Genomics Institute, are looking at the question of how animals will respond to climate change. The Antarctic climate has warmed by around ten degrees Celsius in the 18,000 years since the last ice age. Professor Lambert plans to compare the genes of ancient and modern Antarctic Adélie penguins in order to identify which genes have changed over time and therefore how these penguins have adapted to climate change. This will provide clues as to how animals will respond to future climate change.

QUT’s new Science and Engineering Centre has wow factor. Completed in February 2013, it includes The Cube, a touch and display system two stories high, offering learning and research opportunities to the public. It brings together more than 300 scholars from science, technology, engineering, mathematics, business and law in a range of collaborative workspaces and labs. It’s a sustainability showpiece, generating enough electricity to power itself and put electricity back into the QUT grid. Solar trees on the rooftop follow the sun to draw the maximum energy every day. It reclaims waste heat from the tri-generation power system and uses it to cool itself. It captures rain from the roof to water its own garden and top up the swimming pool.

QRIScloud helps Dr Jeremy VanDerWal make climate and biodiversity models accessible. 

Dr Jeremy VanDerWal at James Cook University’s Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, creates models to study how climate change will affect bird and animal populations in Australia and around the world.

QRIScloud has helped him make these interactive models available to researchers globally, to conservation managers and decision makers, and to the general public.

QRIScloud’s fast and accessible data storage is making a positive difference to a global climate change research project involving Queensland’s James Cook University.

The Wallace Initiative, named after ecologist Alfred Russell Wallace, is investigating which areas, species and crops are likely to be the most and least affected by climate change in the future.

The project involves researchers from JCU, Sydney’s Macquarie University and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at England’s University of East Anglia.

The Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL) is enabling researchers to tackle data modelling without needing technical skills.

According to Professor Brendan Mackey, Director of Griffith University’s Climate Change Response Program, who helped shape BCCVL, it is a “one stop modelling shop to simplify the process of modelling species responses to climate change and enable more efficient investigation of related problems in the fields of conservation biology, ecology, and vector-borne diseases."

What researchers won’t see is QRIScloud, the NeCTAR research cloud, and National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) all working away behind the scenes, providing cloud compute and data storage for the virtual lab.

QRIScloud’s special compute service has enabled a Griffith University PhD student to run document image retrieval experiments faster and with greater flexibility.

Ranju Mandal, at Griffith’s Gold Coast School of Information and Communication Technology, Is applying QRIScloud’s GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) node in his experiments. Together with a deep learning technique, his GPU algorithms can retrieve relevant documents by image queries into document repositories.

The goal of Mr Mandal’s research is to make querying and document retrieval based on images (e.g. a handwritten signature, seal or logo) in administrative documents a lot faster, making possible an automated process, rather than manual document scans. For example, a bank or other company could use the application to search its databases for documents featuring a particular signature.

The use of one of QRIScloud’s large memory nodes has given the Queensland Brain Institute a competitive edge in the prototyping of new research domain specific information technology facilities.

Jake Carroll (pictured), QBI’s Senior Information Technology Manager (Research), said QBI used the node as a deconvolution pipeline prototype for its high throughput microscopy facilities.

Deconvolution is a computationally-intensive image processing technique that is being increasingly used to improve the contrast and resolution of digital images captured via high-end microscopy facilities.

Rowland Mosbergen is a power user of the Nectar Research Cloud, managing five production-ready virtual machines (VMs) as lead developer for Stemformatics.

After meeting other power users of the Nectar Research Cloud at a meeting hosted by QCIF, the Queensland node of the Research Cloud, Rowland established a power users group. According to Rowland, a power user wants to build things that are “maintainable, extensible, scalable, reliable.”

In the 1980s and 1990s big, buttery Chardonnay was the white wine to drink. A backlash eventually occurred and some drinkers began to ask for “ABC — anything but Chardonnay”.

Since then, the styles of Chardonnay available in Australia have broadened significantly and Chardonnay is making a deserved comeback. This is a testament to the great malleability of the variety and to the improved quality and diversity of available plant material. Plantings of this grape in Australia far outweigh any other white grape variety — in part because Chardonnay is an important component of sparkling wine.

As the world's fourth largest exporter of wine, Australia’s wine industry is very important to the nation’s economic health. With 18 per cent of all grape plantings in Australia being Chardonnay, the variety contributes significantly to the economy and viability of the wine industry.

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) in South Australia and Canada’s BC Genome Sciences Centre at the University of British Columbia are investigating the genetic make-up of the Chardonnay grape to help the industry better understand the variety.

Reproducibility of research results has long been a hot topic amongst scientists.

As science becomes more data and computationally intensive, the harder it has become to reproduce others’ research. Not only is access to the data required, but also access to the same software, operating systems and other tools used.

A Queensland-based team led by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) has taken a step towards addressing this issue by developing infrastructure for reproducible science in the form of a virtual desktop, accessed by a web-browser, called CoESRA: Collaborative Environment for Ecosystem Science Research and Analysis.

During the last decade, wind erosion of soils has removed millions of tonnes of valuable topsoil from Australia’s agricultural and pastoral lands, reducing capacity to produce food and affecting the economy. The loss of topsoil can also negatively affect biodiversity, the climate and air and water quality.

During an Australian dust storm on 23 September 2009, more than 2.5 million tonnes of soil was blown off the Australian coast. The economic impact of this event on the NSW economy alone was conservatively estimated to be almost $300 million.

Dan Burnham, a fifth-generation cattle grazier, is happy. Ground cover on his certified organic 2,500-hectare property, near Thangool in central Queensland, is up approximately 10 per cent.

Good ground cover — earth with grass or other plants — is essential not only for grazing, but also to minimise flood damage and polluting runoff. Healthy paddocks result in healthier livestock and better financial returns for the grazier.

Mr Burnham’s increased ground cover is partly thanks to Vegmachine — a free, fast online tool providing Australians with world-class, detailed ground cover analysis to help with grazing and land management decisions.

The University of Queensland’s Microbial Genomics Lab is increasingly using QCIF and RCC-managed cloud computing resources in a bid to reduce time and financial constraints.

The lab, in UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, is using cloud computing for a range of ARC and NHMRC-funded projects that use genomics to investigate multi-drug resistant superbugs. The custom-built compute infrastructure will also support rapid investigation of healthcare-associated bacterial outbreaks through a recently announced Queensland Genomics Health Alliance project.

QCIF offers a number of services for researchers from our member universities who need to gain access to world-class HPC resources. These include training courses, face-to-face support, and a “grant” program to fund early-career researchers to get a track record in the use of national HPC facilities.

Dr Jed Burns, an early-career researcher (ECR) within The University of Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, is looking to tackle a big problem.

The Australian Government currently lists more than 1,800 species of animals and plants in the nation as being threatened.

Surprisingly, Australia currently does not have national reporting on threatened species trends, a situation that has major policy and management consequences.

A Threatened Species Recovery Hub research team, led by the University of Queensland (UQ) in close partnership with BirdLife Australia, is working to plug that gap, with help from QCIF and QRIScloud infrastructure, Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) and UQ’s Research Computing Centre (RCC).

Running a cattle farm in northern Australia is challenging. The harsh environmental conditions, vast geographical expanse and remoteness can make it tough for farmers to return a good profit on their stock.

Over the years, beef producers in the region have realised the key to profitability is cattle fertility rates and the genetic hardiness of their stock.

With a small team of researchers, CQUniversity Professor of Agriculture Dave Swain has invented and developed ground-breaking new animal monitoring systems that link biology with technology, combining automated livestock management hardware, such as weighing systems, with cutting-edge software so that beef producers have a precise understanding of individual animal performance.

University of Southern Queensland researchers are using drones to map farms to help form a more targeted, lower-cost and environmentally-friendly approach to eliminating weeds.

Large volumes of aerial imagery and drone data being collected by the USQ team are stored and managed on QCIF’s QRIScloud, a cloud computing service for Queensland researchers.

A CQUniversity-developed data tool is helping Australian mango growers determine a number of harvesting factors ahead of time: crop size, when to pick, and how many labourers to hire and cartons to purchase.

FruitMaps, developed by Professor Kerry Walsh and postdoctoral research fellow Zhenglin Wang, takes real-time data from multiple sources and displays them visually to provide a simple, free, online decision support tool adapted for use by farmers to assess fruit maturity and assist harvesting planning. The data collections that underpin the tool, which is in its pilot stage, are stored on QRIScloud, QCIF’s cloud computing service.

About QRIScloud

QRIScloud is a large-scale cloud computing and data storage service.  It is aimed at stimulating and accelerating research use of computing across all disciplines. 

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