Member Profile

Seen Yee Leanne Lee

Honours student

Climate Change Research Centre
University of New South Wales


Leanne is an honours student at UNSW. She is majoring in Climate System Science and Physical Geography in her undergraduate studies. She has always been interested in meteorology and climate sciences and aspired to help the science community investigate the details of different meteorological events and phenomena. With great concerns regarding global warming, she believes it is important to understand the science behind it and realise how large the impacts of anthropogenic activities are on the environment.

THESIS: Disentangling physical drivers behind the extreme temperatures of the Australian 2019-2020 Summer

This honours project aims to understand the physical drivers that caused one of the hottest summers recorded in Australia. The 2019/2020 summer changed many Australians’ way of living and had a significant impact on society, economy and the environment. The strong positive IOD phase and long-term drought before and during the season are two key mechanisms behind that drove this record-breaking summer. By understanding how these mechanisms interacted to create the 2019/2020 summer – and how these may change under enhanced anthropogenic warming – this project will catalyse our understanding of how physical mechanisms interplay with climate change in shaping current and future heatwaves. This project will involve analysis of the interactions of IOD, drought and heatwaves from a 10-member ensemble of the Australian Community Climate and Earth Systems Simulator (ACCESS) model, for simulations which have been run for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). By analysing this ensemble of fully coupled ocean-atmosphere simulations, we will better understand the roles of the physical climate and weather mechanisms behind extreme heat events, such as the heatwave conditions of the 2019/2020 summer. We will exchange ideas with the science community on how the model can be improved in its simulation of heatwaves. This allows us to better understand and model the earth system, in terms of how climate change and physical mechanisms interplay drive extreme weather events.