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Science Deadline: Four months since Kaikoura

Issue 415, 17 Mar 2017


Policy updates


New from the SMC


Top news from the Science Media Centre's news-sharing platform.

Kea unfazed by unequal rewards when working together

Flushing out Auckland’s drug habits

Cycling is very safe in NZ, despite fear of injury

New from the SMC

In the News: GeoNet takes to Facebook Live for Kaikoura update

Reflections on Science: NZ doesn't need to ban unvaccinated kids from childcare - Nikki Turner

In the News: Debate over Dunedin sea level rise figures

Reflections on Science: Port Hills fires: Lessons for the entire country - Fiona Carswell

In the News: Flushing out Auckland's drug use

In the News: Newsroom launches and The Project features science

New from the SMC global network


Expert reaction: HFEA approves a licence application to use mitochondrial donation therapy

Expert reaction: Five new artificial yeast chromosomes

Expert reaction: Research on natural climate variability and Arctic summer sea ice

Expert reaction: European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment not classifying glyphosate as a carcinogen

Australian SMC

Expert reaction: Snowy River hydro 2.0

Expert reaction: Diabetes drug may treat fatal brain disease

Expert reaction: South Australia's energy plan

Background briefing: Getting your head around the Aussie electricity debate

Bearded dragons colour match their home territory

Great Barrier Reef won't recover from bleaching

GeoNet goes live for updates

Tuesday marked four months since the November 14 Kaikoura earthquake, to mark the occasion GeoNet took their updates to Facebook Live.

After battling with some audio issues on the day, the full video – including sign language interpretation – is now available with improved sound on YouTube.

Dr Kate Clark led the discussion, starting with the earliest surveys on the morning of the quake when scientists in the field said they thought there had been five faults ruptured. “I think we were all a bit bewildered, confused and also amazed…it was kind of our first clue that this was probably going to be quite a complicated and unusual earthquake.”

“And then going on four months, now we’ve documented 21 faults that have actually had surface rupturing in the Kaikoura earthquake. This is probably approaching or exceeding a world record for the number of faults that ruptured in a single earthquake.”

Dr Sally Dellow said about 200 landslide dams had also been created by slips blocking rivers, 11 of which had been identified as still posing risks.

The major landslide that came down near Ohau Points – a popular location on the Kaikoura coast where many people stop to view the local seal colony – could have had major implications had the quake struck at midday, she said.

“We dodged a bullet at this place because the earthquake occurred at midnight.”

Watch the full presentation on YouTube.

Image: Kaikoura Peninsula from the air, uplift here was around 0.7-0.9m. GeoNet.

Quoted: NZ Herald

"You only realise how insignificant humans are when you're standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock. It's like looking into the surface of the sun."

Explorer Geoff Mackley

who helped Kiwi Matt Davison take Google Street View images from inside the crater of a live volcano.

Newsroom features science

New spots for science in New Zealand news, with launch of Newsroom and The Project and a special climate section on NZ Geographic’s website. launched on Monday, the brainchild of former Mediaworks head of news Mark Jennings and NZ Herald former editor-in-chief Tim Murphy. It hit the virtual newsstands with a feature on whether Countdown had been selling caged eggs labelled as free range - a story that dominated media headlines for much of the week.

Newsroom’s environment and science editor Eloise Gibson hit the ground running with stories on antibiotic use in farm animals, a tuatara release halted because of a fungal infection and the remarkable story of following up children from Mont Liggins' historic study testing steriods to improve survival of premature babies.

With the news that the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington had signed on as founding partners, the site has already featured contributions from academics. VuW's Professor James Renwick wrote about extreme high temperatures in Antarctica while Bevan Marten took on the environmental impact of cruise ships.

Good climate for science media

On the subject of climate change, NZ Geographic has launched a climate section on its website in partnership with the Deep South National Science Challenge. The section launched with the latest issue of the magazine, which included a feature about the New Zealand Earth System Model, described as the most nuanced and complex climate model, led by Deep South scientists.

Mediaworks’ new 7pm show The Project, now in its fourth week, features a science section every Friday, dubbed SciFri. AUT’s Robin Hankin has headed the section for the past two weeks, giving the presenters three science stories, one of which is fake, and challenging them to spot the lie.

Last Friday’s show featured a double science whammy, with University of Auckland’s Michelle Dickinson – aka ‘Nanogirl’ – filling the guest spot on the panel.

Policy news & developments

Dairy amendment: The Government has introduced the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill, which would include some changes to the current act.

RMA reform: The bill which will bring a large set of reforms to the Resource Management Act has passed its second reading in Parliament.

Women in primary sector: A project aimed at growing the capability of women in the primary sector has been granted nearly $300,000 from the Sustainable Farming Fund.

Upcoming media training

Closing dates are nearing to apply for upcoming science media training workshops.

Science Media SAVVY - a two-day workshop aimed at researchers - heads to Dunedin in April. Applications close on Monday March 20.

Places in each workshop are limited to 12. Participants gain practical techniques to improve communication, deal with nerves and respond effectively when an interview becomes challenging.

Read about the most recent SAVVY workshop on the Curious Minds website.

Science Media SAVVY dates 2017

• Dunedin: 20-21 April (apply)

• Auckland: 7-8 September

• Christchurch: 26-27 October

Video webinar and workshops

Around 70 researchers and communications managers logged into our webinar this week Getting the Most Out of Science Video.

If you missed it, you can replay the briefing which featured Fairfax Media's Asher Finlayson, TVNZ's Will Hine, video maker Dr Heidy Kikillus and video training expert Baz Caitcheon.

We are planning more webinars for later in the year with potential topics including: communicating uncertainty and risk, science and social media,

Science video workshops

There is still some time to apply for our free science video workshops in Auckland and Wellington, led by Baz Caitcheon. Applications close at 5pm today.

More information about the SAVVY workshops is available on our website.

Welcoming our new Scibloggers

Sciblogs, Australasia's largest science blog network, continues to grow with new contributors covering psychology and conservation.

Massey University's Associate Professor Sarb Johal is a clinical and health psychologist who has also recently turned podcast host with his insightful Psychology Report series.

Listen to the podcast or read a transcript of Sarb's fascinating interview with Massey's Dr Matt Williams, who has being studying the idea that anthropogenic climate change might lead to more aggressive behaviour.

Dr Williams says it is relatively easy to correlate temperature variation and changes in human behaviour on a day-to-day basis, but that longer term changes due to climate change are harder to measure - and predict.

"What that implies about how things will change in a world we have this really sustained long-term increase in temperature is a little bit more tricky to work out."

Also joining the stable is Dr Jamie Steer, who has generated debate with his unconventional approach to the conservation debate in New Zealand.

In a post for Sciblogs, Jamie argues that some introduced species, such as salmon and trout, have become culturally and genetically part of the fabric of our country and should be valued more alongside native species.

"Introduced salmon are evolving into uniquely Kiwi varieties and sub-species which may come to be seen as treasured forms of New Zealand biodiversity in their own right," he writes.

Jamie's future posts will be found on his So Shoot Me blog.

New from Sciblogs - NZ's science blog network

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:

Why do so many fear the bicycle?

Alistair Woodward discusses his new research suggesting the risk of injury during cycling is far less than other common activities, like sport and DIY.

Public Health Expert

Why Detox Diets Don’t Work – the science behind how your body removes toxins

Health stores are filled with optimistic claims for weight loss products - Michelle Dickinson dispells those claims.

Nano Girl

A better conservation science sector is critical… … of itself

Wayne Linklater talks about the response to his latest critique of NZ conservation and how his thoughts are in line with conservation practice.


Book review: Doctors in Denial

Ron Jones' book on the National Women's Hospital's 'unfortunate experiment' seeks to set the revisionist history straight.


Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details.

The plight of the humble bee: 21 March, Dunedin. Emily Remnant from the University of Sydney will talk about the evolution of honey bee viruses.

New Horizons: 21 March, Dunedin. Fran Bagenal will talk about the New Horizons fly-by of Pluto - how the spacecraft got to Pluto and how the findings are challenging our understanding of ice worlds in the outer solar system.

Tectonic shift in engineering education: 21 March, Palmerston North. Massey University's Jane Goodyer will outline best practice to move engineering education forward.

Liggins mini lectures: 22 March, Auckland. Liggins Institute will host its first public lecture of the year, with mini talks from researchers on topics from systems biology to babies born with heart defects.

Concussion in kids: 22 March, Dunedin. An open lecture on sports-related concussion in kids - what every parents needs to know, including how to recognise a concussion and what to do about it.

Tourism-dependent communities: 23 March, Dunedin. Visiting Professor Sanjay Nepal will discuss social capital in tourism-dependent communities in a natural disaster, with lessons from the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Goodfellow Symposium: 24-26 March, Auckland. A multi-disciplinary programme catering for general practitioners, primary health care nurses, urgent care physicians, registrars, specialists and others primary health care professionals.

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