Director's Report - Annual Report 2012

by ARCCSS Director, Andrew J Pitman

This is the second Annual Report of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, with 2012 being our first full year. After a period of building foundations, we are now actively seeing early outcomes from all of our research programs. The benefits of capacity building in the computational modelling area are now becoming clear. There are also some outstanding cross-centre activities benefitting from excellent national and international links. We also have a growing group of graduate students benefiting from the educational and technical training programs we have established.

This report provides details on our 2012 activities. There are reports from each research program, details of the contribution from the Computational Modelling Support (CMS) team, vignettes focused on student experiences and some highlights around how we have helped communicate ARC-funded research outcomes in the print, radio and television media. Certain highlights are especially noteworthy:

  • We are delighted by how well national e-research providers have partnered with the Centre. The National Computational Infrastructure (a Partner Organisation) has provided us computational capacity as promised, but has also been strongly supportive in helping the Computational Modelling Support team deliver outstanding results. The Australian National Data Service (ANDS), another e-research Partner Organisation, has resourced a tools project that will aid access to our data. The Centre is also associated with a National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) project led by the Bureau of Meteorology (a Partner Organisation). Overall, the Centre has provided the capacity to interact with these major e-research providers in a way that would have been impossible for individual researchers. This has been made possible by our own Computational Modelling Support team. By linking these e-research capacities we have been able to make a sustained contribution.
  • Highlighting the growing reputation of the Computational Modelling Support team, Dr Mike Rezny was invited to join the Technical Advisory Group at the UK Met Office. This includes managing a project at the Met Office on evaluating software frameworks that will enable climate modelling in around 2020. This long-term perspective is something that could not have been considered without the existence of the Centre of Excellence.
  • Our publications in 2012 were outstanding. We are delighted that Chief Investigator Steven Sherwood contributed significantly to our first book, Climate Change and Australia: Warming to the Global Challenge, published by Federation Press. The land, oceans, and extremes research programs delivered chapters to an important research text, The Future of the World's Climate, published by Elsevier. This book, edited by Professors Henderson-Sellers and McGuffie won the 2012 Atmospheric Science Librarians International “best book” prize in the fields of meteorology, climatology and atmospheric sciences.
  • Of course, a key outcome is world-class science and we are delighted to report two Nature papers, one Science paper, nine Geophysical Research Letters, five Journal of Geophysical Research papers, five Journal of Climate papers, two Journal of Physical Oceanography papers and one Water Resources Research paper. All of these are A* journals. Overall, the Centre published one book, two book chapters and forty-two peer reviewed journal papers.
  • There has been a strong emergence of multidisciplinary research between the extremes, land and variability research programs. Examples of this cross-program research include examining the impact of El Niño Southern Oscillation on extremes and how land cover change affects extremes. Some of this work was conducted jointly with our Partner Organisations in Australia. The land cover research is part of a World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) initiative and was conducted jointly with Partner Organisations in France.
  • We ran a very successful winter school for our graduate students and participants from a number of Australian and Pacific institutions. The Winter School included presentations from chief investigators and partner investigators. We have also run training in the use of National Computational Infrastructure -- in Python, NCL and in Fortran. Specific training in the use of some of our modelling systems has also been provided.
  • We have continued to strengthen links with The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) (a partnership between the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO). CAWCR contributed strongly to the Winter School, to a week-long workshop and to a suite of 1-3 day workshops. The Centre of Excellence has contributed strongly to CAWCR workshops on model evaluation and Australian Community Climate and Earth Simulator (ACCESS) events.
  • We have continued to drive ahead remarkably at the interface of science, modelling and high performance computing. Simulations by the convection research program have been achieved at resolutions of one kilometre,, and globally, by the oceans group, at ¼o. This provides unprecedented opportunities for examining phenomena and how to represent these phenomena in global climate models.
  • A large number of visitors to the Centre from overseas have been welcomed, and multiple trips to overseas institutions have been supported.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding between the Centre and the Max Planck Institute in Germany has been signed to facilitate collaboration.
  • We were delighted to host a major Global Energy and Water Experiment steering committee meeting in October. This brought many of the world’s foremost scientists together in Australia. Several science talks and a public lecture by Kevin Trenberth were given and a number of PhD and research fellows took the opportunity to engage with leading international researchers. Dr Trenberth’s talk was widely reported in the media and was used extensively in The Science Show hosted by Robyn Williams on Radio National.
  • Chief investigators have maintained a strong commitment to communicating Centre activities via the media, via public talks and via a commitment to providing policy-relevant advice to State and Federal governments. The two most significant were David Karoly’s appointment to the Climate Change Authority and Matthew England’s chairing of the Science Panel of the Climate Commission. Many others have maintained high-level science leadership. For example, Christian Jakob was named as inaugural Co-chair of the new, high-level WCRP Modelling Advisory Council  (WMAC).
  • Adele Morrison, a PhD student based at the Australian National University, was one of only six Australian invitees to the 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.


It is always important to celebrate major prizes. Chief Investigator Mike Roderick won the Dalton Medal from the European Geophysical Union. Todd Lane won the Anton Hales medal in Earth Sciences, and Matt England won the New South Wales Scientist of the Year for Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Physics. We also congratulate Andy Hogg who won a Future Fellowship, and many successful DECRA and ARC Discovery Grant winners.

In summary, 2012 has been a highly successful year of growth and impact. We are proud of our achievements. While we do not underestimate the challenges in the future, we are confident that after 18 months we are on track for achieving our overall objectives of transforming the scale and quality of university-led climate system science.



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