Winter School 2017

Winter School 2017

by Sarah Perry

What would the climate be like if the Earth spun backwards? How about if all of the ocean surface warmed instantaneously by one degree? Or if there was no ocean at all?

These were the kinds of super problems that participants were tasked with solving at the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science’s 6th annual Winter School which took place on June 19­­–23rd at the University of New South Wales. The theme of the Winter School was the Science of Climate Change, encouraging students to take a step back from our focused postgraduate research projects and improve our understanding of the broader climate system.

Over the week, lectures were given by academics from the Centre of Excellence and covered everything from the earth’s radiation balance and the mechanisms driving the broad-scale circulations of the atmosphere and oceans, to the importance of correctly modelling plant stomata in land surface models. In a tutorial using the Monash Simple Climate Model our understanding of the climate system was put to the test.  

In addition to the science, we heard an insider view into the IPCC process from a leading author, Nathan Bindoff, after which Matthew England spoke about both the importance and the challenges of communicating our research to the broader community.

The postgraduate process is challenging, and in a workshop run by a recent UNSW graduate, Willem Huiskamp, we were reminded of how important it is to manage our mental health as research students. At the student social afternoon, we put the advice into practice, enjoying a game of ultimate frisbee at Coogee beach, followed by a night of drinks and food.

On Friday afternoon it was time to present our answers to our super-problems, and although we may not have solved all of the ways the earth’s climate may change in these scenarios, some of us got creative in the process, with Star Wars and IPCC themes making their way into our presentations.

On behalf of all the attending students, I would like to thank the Centre of Excellence’s Graduate Director, Dr Melissa Hart and Swa Rath for organising another great Winter School, and all of the academics who shared their knowledge in great lectures. 

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