ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes Researcher Thi Lan Dao says growing up with extreme weather in Vietnam inspired her to research the climate.

Researcher Thi Lan Dao grew up in a coastal city in Vietnam, exposing her to the impacts of tropical cyclones and heavy rainfall, causing severe damage to local communities.

Reflecting on her experiences growing up, she says it inspired her to use science to help communities deal with these extremes.

“From that moment I felt I wanted to learn to help predict and understand weather, and to improve projections so that we can reduce the damage from extreme events” says Thi Lan Dao.

These experiences led her to an interest in climate science and studying a PhD at the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes.

Thi Lan Dao’s research focuses on climate patterns like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Madden-Julian Oscillation. Understanding how these climate patterns impact rainfall is important for accurate weather forecasts and projections of our future climate. 

These climate patterns have been studied in isolation, but Thi Lan Dao’s groundbreaking research fills an important knowledge gap in how they interact to influence rainfall over Northeastern Australia.

Thi Lan Dao focused on this area of Australia, as it’s prone to extreme rainfall and floods. For example, the 2019 Townsville floods, the 2010-11 Queensland floods and the recent 2022 Eastern Australia floods that have caused severe damage in this region. 

In an exciting recognition of Thi Lan Dao’s research, her work has been published in the Journal of Climate.

“In this research we found that during El Niño years, the rainfall response to the Madden-Julian Oscillation is two times stronger than in La Niña years” says researcher Thi Lan Dao.

“This means that during El Niño years, which are typically drier than average, the Madden-Julian Oscillation can have a big impact on whether much needed rains occur in this region. This is really important for industries and communities that rely on rainfall like agricultural regions” says Thi Lan Dao

Thi Lan Dao’s next project involves addressing another important research gap – capturing and analysing finer data that can give more relevant information for local communities.

Informed by her experiences growing up in a coastal Vietnamese city with extreme rainfall events, Thi Lan Dao’s research will now help communities in Northern Australia have better information to help them in a changing climate.