Centre researchers feature strongly in competitive grants

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science have had a strong showing in the most recent round of Australian research council's National Competitve Grants Program with nine researchers receiving funding across eight grants.

Six of the grants were for specific projects, one was for advanced scientific equipment and two, awarded to Dr Erik Van Sebille and Dr Shayne McGregor, were Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA).  DECRAs are awarded to up and coming researchers who have completed PhDs within the past five years.

The Centre also were named as members of two earlier Linkage Project grants in July, for large scale projects across multiple organisations.     

“The number of successful grants across the five Universities in the ARC Centre of Excellence highlights the quality of our researchers and the importance this research has for Australia,” said Centre of Excellence Director, Prof Andy Pitman.

“I am particularly delighted by the ARC’s leadership in supporting the DECRA scheme to help retain the best and brightest young researchers in Australia “

The award of DECRAs to young researchers can also be transformational to their careers. DECRA funding means they will now, often for the first time, be able to develop their own research without having to rely on projects and funding delivered by supervisors.

“The DECRA is basically a tremendous Career boost,” said Dr McGregor

“It will provide me with the research freedom to continue building my research profile, while the associated recognition and exposure will likely enhance future collaborative research opportunities."

The DECRA and Discovery Project grants will extend over the next three years.



Discovery Projects

Dr Katrin Meissner (team leader Prof Chris Turney)
Project: Reconstructing changes in atmospheric circulation over the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere during the past 3000 years.
Dr Meissner will be working as part of a team that will be reconstructing the changes in atmospheric circulation over the Southern Hemisphere for the past 3000 years. The climate of this hemisphere is of global significance but a lack of records has made it very difficult to reconstruct how it has changed over this time. Working across the Southern Ocean region using tree rings, lake sediments and ice cores, the project will produce the first comprehensive reconstruction spanning the past 3000 years


Prof Christian Jakob
Project: Cloudiness over the Southern Ocean: reducing a key knowledge gap and source of climate model uncertainty.
Prof Jakob will lead a team that will use advanced observational analysis techniques to understand Southern Ocean clouds. Southern Ocean clouds are key ingredients of the global climate system and yet are only poorly understood and poorly represented in climate models. This research will provide a deep understanding of key Southern Ocean cloud regimes and improve their representation in models. The research follows Prof Jakob’s remarkable research that for the first time quantified at a global level the amount of precipitation associated with frontal systems.


Dr Todd Lane and Prof Michael Reeder
Project:  Numerical prediction of bushfire behaviour and bushfire weather.
Dr Lane and Prof Reeder are regarded as leading authorities in bushfire weather, releasing a report earlier this year that showed the unusual conditions that led to the disastrous Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria. Together they have been funded to explore in even greater detail how bushfires interact with the atmosphere. This research will be used to help underpin the development of new systems for fire weather prediction.


Prof Nathan Bindoff and Dr Jessica Benthuysen
Project: Observations of remarkable eastward flows in the South Indian Ocean.
The Indian Ocean has a powerful affect on the variability of Australia’s climate, driving seasonal precipitation, temperatures and weather patterns. In recent times, there have been some remarkable changes in the eastward flows of this ocean. Prof Bindoff’s team will be taking new observations of unusual eastward flows in the south Indian Ocean and combining these with climate models too understand what is happening in this region and what it’s likely affect will be on Australia.





Prof Steven Sherwood
Project: Mobile weather radar system for advanced environmental monitoring and modeling.
This grant helped fund the purchase of a mobile weather radar system. The high resolution of this radar, particularly in regard to wind and precipitation, will increase the insight of researchers in to weather processes. As a result of these observations. Australian researchers will undertake model validation studies on precipitation, dust storm, and flood prediction under a wider range of environmental conditions and in greater detail than currently possible.



Dr Shayne McGregor
Project:  Understanding the termination of El Nino-Southern Oscillation events.
Dr McGregor’s work continues his exploration of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, which are crucial to Australia’s seasonal climate.  Large ENSO events can lead to significant droughts or floods. The DECRA funding will allow Dr McGregor to improve our understanding of how these events end, which will lead to better seasonal forecasts.

Dr Erik Van Sebille
Project:  Inter-ocean exchange around Australia and its relation to regional and global climate.
Dr Van Sebille is regarded as one of the world leaders on flows between oceans, in particular the Agulhas leakage between the Indian and Atlantic oceans. With this DECRA funding he will be exploring the flows to the north and south of Australia and how these impact our regional climate and Australia’s marine ecosystems.



Dr Jason Evans, Dr Lisa Alexander, Prof Steven Sherwood
Project: Will east coast lows change in frequency or intensity in the future?
East Coast Lows, the largest storms on the south-east coast of Australia, produce both large benefits and losses for this highly populated region of the country. An urgent national priority exists to understand the driving mechanisms for these events and to quantify how the frequency and intensity of these systems will change due to climate change.


Dr Christopher Fogwill, Dr Katrin Meissner
Project: Integrating past ice sheet dynamics with palaeoclimate in the Weddell Sea sector to evaluate current and future change in Antarctica.
This project will extend historical records of change and understand the complex linkages between Antarctic climate and ice sheet dynamics, thereby assisting in: (i) identifying the mechanisms of past and future ice sheet stability, and (ii) communicating the research outputs to the general public, helping scientific understanding.


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