Extreme climates 2

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Plant Adaptations

The Eucalypt tree

  • Low nutrient needs (can tolerate poor soils)
  • The bark is thick to avoid heat damage
  • Leaves are small, reduces transpiration
  • Long roots, which do not rot easily deep in the soil
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Animal Adaptations

The Bilby

  • Nocturnal, thus avoids daytime heat and dehydration
  • It burrows for cooler conditions underground
  • It has low moisture needs and gets most moisture from it's food

The Red Kangaroo

  • It hops which is energy efficient and fast
  • It feeds at dawn and dusk when the temperature is cooler
  • Breeding only occurs during rains, as a hormone is triggered
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Plant Features


  • They store water in their fleshy leaves/stems/roots
  • They can absorb large amounts of water at a time to store
  • Some succulents have spikes to deter animals 

Drought Tolerance

  • These plants have deep root systems
  • During drought they shed their leaves and become dormant 

Drought Avoidance

  • Their seeds last for years and only germinate when the soil moisture is high
  • Most only survive one season
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People's adaptations

Underground sources of water

  • Water can be obtained from an aquifer, a porous layer of rock that holds water like a sponge
  • Rain soaks into the soil and percolates the rock

Storing and transferring water

  • 1950s 'Snowy Mountain Scheme'
  • Water stored in reservoirs
  • Taken to farms for irrigation water

Living Underground

  • Temperature underground is much cooler than above, and stays constant
  • Coober Pedy, outback temperatures can reach 50 degrees
  • The people live in dugouts, houses cut into the rock
  • The people do activities at night time to avoid the intense midday sun
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Natural Causes

  • High temperatures and low rainfall
  • Natural oils in native eucalypt trees, which fuel fire easily
  • Major drought

Human Causes

  • Cigarettes/deliberate light blazes
  • Power lines falling
  • 50 year warming trend that has been linked to human caused climate change
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Black Saturday

Victoria, Australia, 07/02/2009

  • Water sources contaminated with ash
  • Smoke discovered in atmosphere
  • 78 towns destroyed
  • 173 deaths
  • over 400 injured
  • Agricultural loses
  • 41% houses destroyed
  • over 11000 livestock killed

Lessons learned- "stay and defend or leave early" policy reviewed

New building regulations and high risk area housing banned.

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  • Natural causes of drought are changes in the weather patterns
  • (changes in the rainy season)
  • El Nino, Australia, 50% chance of the weather being dry

El nino- warm winds are blown to South America, therefore more precipitation occurs here, and less in Australia.

  • Humans can make drought worse by
  • Population Growth
  • Over Cultivation
  • Overgrazing
  • De-forestation 
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The water need of people cannot be met due to lack of rain over a large period of time

Impacts of drought:

  • Loss of income due to failure of crops
  • bushes/shrubs/crops have a lack of water and will die
  • The loss of vegetation can result in increased soil erosion
  • severe bush fires and storms are more likely
  • Lack of water
  • Loss of local communities as people move to the cities (especially farmers whose crops have failed)
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Intermediate Technology- technology that can be done with little knowledge, the materials exist locally and the labour is free. It is a cheap solution.

Case study- Diguettes in Siguin Vousse

  • A small village in Burkina Faso (the Sahel region)
  • project "agro-forestier" to prevent soil erosion and retain rain water
  • Local farmers were encouraged to build diguettes; stones that trap soil, and soil builds up behind them
  • soil erosion reduced, soil depth increased by 18cm, whereas before it decreased by 15cm


  • Planting native vegetation/gm/drought resistant crops e.g Eucalypt
  • Store flood water for irrigation, rain water, grey water
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Conservation Farming- aims to conserve soil, providing a sustainable livelihood.

  • Ploughing only where you need to, in order to reduce soil erosion and keep fertility.
  • Mixing several crops on one piece of land so that if one fails, others might survive
  • Planting in basins, so that rain trickles into the basins, making it easier for the plants to getmoisture from the soil.

Crops can increase by 10x

Actions to reduce drought-

Kyoto Summit

181 countries agreement, MEDC's targets set regarding GHGs

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Aboriginal Culture

The culture

  • The aboriginal peoples are some of the world's longest established communities (indigenous)
  • The first aboriginal people came to Uluru
  • They teach a sustainable lifestyle/eat sustainably
  • Used herbs and shrubs as natural remedies


Tourists bring economical benefits when they buy paintings and crafts but they also

  • the culture can be exploited to provide entertainment, rather than inform and express the culture
  •  Tourists can leave without learning anything, they often just come for the experience of climbing Uluru with is against it's beliefs and disrespectful to the culture
  • If people are not educated properly, stereotypical views can form about the culture.
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