ARCCSS Legacy Report

Understanding key climate processes is the foundation for predicting their impact on Australia and the world – today and into the future. A decade ago, the university climate science community competed for sparse resources. A lack of collaboration significantly hindered our progress. However, in 2011 the Australian Research Council established the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (ARCCSS) and our journey of innovation and transformation began. We began to tackle tough problems, take risks and deliver world-class solutions.

Over the last seven years we made significant breakthroughs in our comprehension of the climate system, many of which are highlighted in this report. We shed new light on the workings of El Niño and its influence on Australian climate. We discovered a strong connection of tropical cyclones to the north of Australia with heatwaves in the south. By advancing our understanding of tropical clouds, we discovered that the Earth’s temperature might be more sensitive to CO2 in the atmosphere than previously thought.

We combined our better understanding with a major investment into a national climate modelling infrastructure, thereby enabling better weather and climate predictions for all Australians. We’ve developed new land models that demonstrate how vegetation can affect heatwaves. We’ve built a high-resolution model of the ocean, which captures how ocean eddies influence climate.

While proudly calling Australia home, our reach is far. Our data sets are used worldwide in breakthrough science and even in climate-risk assessments in the finance and insurance industry. It’s fair to say that our researchers have shaped the direction of the international climate science community.

Thanks to the substantial funding by the Australian Research Council (ARC), we were able to contribute to a culture of collaboration that stretched well beyond the boundaries of our Centre. Our graduate program has trained more than 100 students and early career researchers - and every single one of them got a job. Our graduates, working in elite laboratories all over the world, now vigorously tackle the challenges of a planet undergoing major changes.

We are thrilled that the generous funding we received from the ARC and our universities revolutionised our Centre’s endeavours to undertake world-class research and educate the next generation of climate scientists. Our contribution to smarter weather and climate predictions will provide better information for policymakers, industries and public services. Importantly, our legacy of breakthrough science, better predictions, a culture of collaboration and a new generation of science leaders will shape the Australian community for decades to come.

Andrew Pitman
Founding Director

Christian Jakob

Find the legacy report here.

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