by Andy Pitman
We have started 2021 some reorganisation of our research programs. While our research has not changed, it is now framed in five research programs that emphasise the strengths of our Centre and should lead to deeper interaction between the programs:

We have also publicly announced the addition of five new Chief Investigators: Ailie Gallant, Amelie Meyer, Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, Andrea Taschetto and Claire Vincent. All are researchers who are emerging as leaders in their fields. They are already bringing a new energy to our meetings and we look forward to their influence over the coming years of the Centre.

The changes to our Chief Investigator team were proposed prior to the Centre’s mid-term review and were accepted by the Australian Research Council earlier this year. That review has also encouraged us to examine how to enhance our engagement with current stakeholders and develop new connections into industry, policy and other stakeholders beyond the usual university networks. You will see the first indications of this emphasis in the recently advertised postdoc positions, where stakeholder engagement is explicitly mentioned as part of the duties of those positions. You will also see it in small ways, such as the new sections in our Weekly Update – Engagement, and Stakeholder/Industry conferences –  and through some of the initiatives that will come through the Knowledge Brokerage Team in the coming year, including the new Engagement prize, where engagement beyond the usual stakeholders is looked on favourably.

Early signs of this new stakeholder focus can already be found with Andrew King’s engagement with the Forewarned is Forearmed Community of Practice, the Knowledge Brokerage Team’s work with bringing climate science to the classroom, Lisa Alexander’s presentation to the UNEP Finance Initiative, Todd Lane’s presentation at the Victorian Physics Teachers Conference and Melbourne Climate Futures, and my own engagements where I briefed the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Lazard Asset Management and other business organisations as a result of a recent paper on business risk and the emergence of climate risk.

Our strengthening focus on stakeholders is necessarily underpinned by our research which continues to be demonstrated by a range of impressive papers. CLEX researchers found the Pacific and Atlantic basins are mutually interactive through teleconnections and the Walker circulation; developed a new statistical technique to explore how the most extreme weather events may change with climate; used pre-instrumental datasets to explore the causes of 1888 Centennial Drought; revealed the future global impacts of coastal marine heatwaves; and introduced a novel methodology to examine the Southern Ocean’s response to changing winds. This is just a small taste of a wide range of research published over the past few months.

I welcome the opportunity to acknowledge the individual successes of CLEX researchers. Jason Evans was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society NSW and a fellow of the Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc. Nina Ridder had her paper, Global hotspots for the occurrence of compound events, listed in the Top 50 Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science Articles for 2020. Margot Bador was awarded a European Marie-Curie fellowship (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions fellowship). Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick was awarded and Australian Academy of Science Dorothy Hill Medal while PhD student Kim Reid won an Outstanding Student Presentation Award at the most recent AGU meeting for her oral presentation on the sensitivity of atmospheric river detection to resolution, regridding and thresholds, work which she published in October last year. We also had a number of AMOS achievements, which weren’t mentioned in the previous newsletter with Danielle Udy being awarded AMOS best student oral presentation and Acacia Pepler winning the AMOS Meyers Medal.

There is no doubt that 2020 was an extraordinarily difficult year, but with a rejuvenated and refocused Centre, 2021 is already promising much and I look forward to a fruitful year of research and engagement at all levels.  We are moving towards in-person workshops (note the plural!), in-person node visits, hopefully, an in-person winter school and a Centre-wide workshop. These activities are vital to re-establish the vibe that was impossible to maintain through COVID and zoom sessions. I hope you find valuable information in this newsletter and, as always, touch base if you have any questions.