The week we were away for three weeks part III


This week we caught several trains through the Balkan region: up from the coast to Belgrade, and overnight into Budapest. A relaxing, well-paced adventure, and an opportunity to meet people, eat fresh boreks and see some beautiful country.

But the route we took, particularly from Belgrade to Budapest, is not always a grand old railway sojourn. It’s an escape route for those fleeing war. In both cities we saw hundreds of Syrian refugees sleeping in parks and train stations, families, children, with not much more than a backpack, a plastic bag, and if they were lucky, a tent. Some may stay in Serbia or Hungary, but many will continue on, into Germany or Austria, where family members are and there is more chance of setting up a new life.

We heard many opinions on the refugee crisis on our travels, from a man on a tram in Belgrade proudly telling us that about the free buses the Serbian government was providing to help as much as they could, to a retired Australian man we overheard saying that ‘Europe was finished’ due to the influx of those seeking asylum. While I don’t pretend to be an expert on this complicated topic by any means, surely Europe would be ‘finished’ if it ignored the health and safety of these people who are journeying, not to make the most of their summer time, but to save their own lives. 


The week we were away for three weeks, part I

A quick photo from Milan’s World Expo, where the theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. A place full of architecture, selfie sticks, tired feet and blatant avoidance of the complex issue of feeding the world sustainably in the future.

In the background, the Qatar pavillion. The foreground, the equally sized pavillion for that glorious country committed to healthy eating, McDonalds. Image taken at a juice and fruit cafe that was shunted to the back. All the buildings were cool though!

The week the paper was published

“Dear Dr Ashcroft,

I am pleased to inform you that your paper has been accepted for publication.”

Huzzah! Is there any sweeter sentence in the scientific world?! Maybe “the results are significant at the 99.9% confidence level (p<0.01)”.  But the opening line from this email I recently received is definitely up there.

The accepted paper is the last publication to come directly out of my PhD thesis, an adaptation of the final chapter that brought together several datasets I developed and tried to answer a big question using my historical instrumental data: how has the El Niño–Southern Oscillation influence on southeastern Australian rainfall varied since European settlement?

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Teleco-what now?

This post contains a lot of links to scientific articles that may be paywalled, or just as bad, really technical. Just let me know if you need a copy of any of them, or if they don’t make sense.

Ah, teleconnection. What a word. Much like ‘madrugada‘ does not have a translation into English, or ’serendipity‘ does not have a Spanish equivalent, teleconnection is a term that is hard to translate into normal words without it losing some of its beauty.

But let me have a try. Essentially, teleconnections are the connections between weather and climate in one place, and weather and climate in another. No, that’s not it. A teleconnection is the remote influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. No that’s worse. It’s the effect that the climate in one place can have somewhere else. It’s teleconnection.Read More »