The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes was formally started on August 4, 2017. We have a Centre launch on April 10, which is something we all look forward to.

We have been extremely busy since the August 4. A great deal of effort has gone into hiring some outstanding research fellows including Malcolm King, Annette Hirsch, Anna Ukkola, Martin Bergemann, Ghyslaine Boschat, Sugata Narsey, Ariaan Purich, Ryan Holmes, Margot Bador, Chen Li, Nicky Wright and Claire Vincent who holds a co-funded lectureship at The University of Melbourne. We have also hired Martin de Kauwe in a more senior role. We have also multiple new CLEX students including Roseanna McKay, Zoe Gillett, Tony Rafter and Manon Sabot started their PhD and Imogen Wadlow and Genevieve Tolhurst started MSc. Welcome aboard everyone!

 

The Centre has four research programs: Extreme Rainfall, Heatwaves and Cold Air Outbreaks, Drought and Climate Variability and Teleconnections. The research leaders of these four programs have been meeting to refine their research strategies and identify the main priorities in the short, medium and longer term. We had our first advisory board meeting and those priorities were agreed. In addition, our draft strategic plan was discussed and, pending some revisions, was agreed. We are therefore in a strong position to accelerate through 2018. However, we have not been waiting for agreement around these priorities. We have been active in the development of both the ocean and land components of the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) model in collaboration with CSIRO, a key partner organisation in the Centre. We have also been driving ahead with analyses of extreme rainfall radar data in collaboration with our other key national partner, the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Centre has strongly engaged with international partner organisations. Staff from the UK Meteorological Office were in Australia in force enabling valuable discussions with Jon Petch, Martin Best, Sean Milton and many others. Wojciech Grabowski, another Partner Investigator also visited us in March.

I am delighted to announce major successes from some of our Chief Investigators. First, Christian Jakob was named as new AMOS fellow, an honour richly deserved. Matthew England also won the prestigious Tinker Muse prize for outstanding research, leadership and advocacy for Antarctic science. Jason Evans and Julie Arblaster were announced as co-winners of the AMOS Priestley Medal. Julie Arblaster was also selected as an author on the 2018 WMO/UNEP Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion. This is an assessment carried out every four years in accordance with the terms of the Montreal Protocol. Pete Strutton became a member of the Tropical Pacific Observing System 2020 (tpos2020.org) Scientific Steering Committee and co-chair of its Biogeochemistry Task Team. Nerilie Abram participated in five months of Antarctic fieldwork supported by the Australian Antarctic Science Program. She collected a roughly 1,000-year-long climate history from the remote Indian Ocean sector of Antarctica, something that will be valuable to the Centre’s drought research program.

Our Partner and Associate Investigators have also been very active. Graham Farquhar was named as the 2018 Senior Australian of the Year and Trevor McDougall was named as a Companion of the Order at this year’s Australia Day Awards (AC). Sandrine Bony at Institut Pierre Simon Laplace was awarded the Gérard Mégie Prize by the French Academy of Sciences. Joelle Gergis releases her new book, A Sunburnt Country: The history and future of climate change in Australia, through Melbourne University Press this month. She will be a featured author at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. Markus Donat was announced as the winner of the 2017 WCRP/GCOS International Data Prize. The prize committee said it, “was greatly impressed by his strong profile and the outstanding quality of his contribution to the development of climate data sets”.

A role that is always challenging, but rewarding and has a big impact on climate policy worldwide is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Recently, an announcement of authors for the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate were made. Chief Investigators Nerilie Abram (Chapter 1) and Nathan Bindoff (Chapter 5) were named as co-ordinating lead authors of this important report. The first order draft will be released over the next few months with the final report due out September 2019. Chief Investigator Jason Evans (Chapter 3) has also been named as a lead author on the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. The first order draft is scheduled for late April 2018 with the final report also due on September 2019.

CLEX researchers have also been named as authors for the next major IPCC report, AR6. Working group one authors include Partner Investigator Sonia Seneviratne who was named as co-ordinating lead author of Chapter 11. Chapter authors include Associate Investigators Catia Domingues (Chapter 2), Shayne Mcgregor (Chapter 3), Joelle Gergis (Chapter 8), Alejandro de Luca (Chapter 11) and Sophie Lewis (Chapter 11) as well as Partner Investigator Simon Marsland (Chapter 9). Its a hell of a challenge to take on this role, but there are few roles as important.

I think its apparent that we have started our 7-year research program strongly and we have established a foundation from which to grow. I look forward to bringing announcements of further successes, discoveries and achievements through 2018 and all the way to 2024.

 

Andy Pitman
Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes