April 12, 2021 | Published by | , ,

By Ian Macadam

In February, with others, I convened the 28th Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) Annual Conference. This was both a pleasure and, due to the conference being online, a challenge. The conference was themed “Science for Impact”. As a CLEX Knowledge Broker, I was delighted to be involved in a conference with this theme and even more delighted that CLEX was a sponsor of the conference.

The main week of the conference was packed full of plenaries, panel discussions and parallel sessions and incorporated around 400 presentations, many presented by CLEX researchers.

Plenary speakers at the conference included CLEX Chief Investigator Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, who had the honour of giving the inaugural Penny Whetton Memorial Lecture. Penny was a pioneer in regional climate projections, and several of us in CLEX, including Sarah and myself, benefitted from her expertise and mentorship. Sarah’s talk, on the science of identifying the contribution of climate change to extreme climate events, was introduced and keenly watched by Penny’s wife Senator Janet Rice. CLEX also supported the conference’s plenary sessions by sponsoring a plenary by Insurance Australia Group’s Joanna Aldridge, who provided insights into how the AMOS sciences can have impact beyond the research community.

Conference panel sessions included the first of a planned series of regional World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) climate research forums. The forum at the conference exchanged ideas around new activities and opportunities being developed by WCRP and explored ways that the WCRP community of scientists, partner programs, funders, and end-users of climate science can engage in the Australian region. CLEX Chief Investigators Julie Arblaster and Lisa Alexander played key roles in organising this forum and panelists included CLEX Chief Investigators Christian Jakob and Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick. Another panel session, on the challenges of communicating the AMOS sciences remotely, featured our Media and Communications Manager Alvin Stone.

Parallel sessions during the conference were highly varied and included old favourites and new foci. As one might expect from a conference themed ‘Science for Impact’, some of the new sessions concerned the application of the AMOS sciences. However, there were new sessions related to the fundamental science as well. For example, two new sessions with CLEX convenors focused on marine heatwaves and biogeochemistry. The marine heatwaves session received presentations on a wide range of interesting topics, such as new understandings on drivers, seasonal prediction, and depth structure. Many of the presenters and attendees were connected through CLEX’s marine heatwaves group, and the session provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen those links. The marine biogeochemistry session showcased recent research progress and advances led by Australian-based biogeochemists, including understanding decadal variability in air-sea and particulate carbon fluxes in the Southern Ocean and the impacts of ocean extremes on primary productivity. Other sessions where CLEX was heavily involved covered subjects such as compound events, extreme climate event attribution, urban climate, climate variability, land surface processes, rainfall processes, atmospheric dynamics and regional climate projections.

AMOS continued the tradition of recognising the quality of student presentations in the parallel sessions by awarding prizes for the best student oral and poster presentations. It was particularly pleasing to see CLEX’s Danielle Udy winning a prize for her talk From Antarctic ice core and Australian rainfall.

This year, there were a swag of pre- and post-conference workshops that were particularly relevant to CLEX. A total of nine half- and full-day workshops ran over three days in the weeks immediately before and after the main conference week. The CMS Team were particularly visible at these. Paola Petrelli led a workshop on a Creating a collaborative approach to climate data and the team contributed instructors to workshops on python and the ACCESS model. CLEX also led a “Climate Classrooms” workshop in which conference attendees and secondary school teachers worked together in groups developing educational resources on climate science. Of course, a great conference doesn’t just happen. Thanks, on behalf of CLEX, to all those who worked tirelessly to make sure the conference run so smoothly, including my fellow convenors Elisabeth Vogel, Rachel Law and Mandy Freund, and the AMOS team – Jeanette Dargaville, Angela Maharaj, Thomas Kavanagh, Melissa Lyne, Roger Dargaville and Natasha Rice. Running a virtual conference wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and professionalism of the conference event managers at EventFrog. Finally, thank you to all those from CLEX who participated and supported the conference!