Research within the Centre is organized into six research programs. Each is designed to start from existing knowledge in a key area of Climate System Science.
The programs will then build via critical mass to deliver cutting-edge research to inform global and regional climate modelling, particularly in respect of the Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator (ACCESS) modelling system.
The programs link significant research strengths across the five Australian universities with Partner Organizations to establish one of the largest focused efforts in Climate System Science in the world.
The effects of tropical convection on Australia's climate
Understanding the behaviour of atmospheric convection is enormously challenging. Tropical convection drives atmospheric flows that dominate Australian climate variability. Direct consequences of local convection such as intense rainfall, hail, wind bursts are critical to many impacts. Coordinated observational and modelling projects will first focus on process-based understanding of convection (e.g. the diurnal cycle, large-scale organization) and will ultimately build a world-leading representation of convective processes for climate models.
Risks, mechanisms, and attribution of changes in Australian climate extremes
Changes in the frequency and intensity of climate extremes pose a significant threat to the future of biogeophysical systems in Australia. Defining the risks posed to these systems requires improved understanding of the atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial processes driving extremes in combination with advanced statistical techniques. This will enable us to tease out natural climate variations from anthropogenic signals using formal detection and attribution methods.
The role of land surface forcing and feedbacks for regional climate
Large-scale climate dynamics and physics operate similarly everywhere but specific phenomena “regionalize” these large-scale patterns. De/reforestation, urbanization and agriculture change the way landscapes respond to droughts and impact the probability of extremes. Landscapes affect the processes that control land-atmosphere interactions and the feedbacks of energy, water and carbon to the regional climate. The local impacts of these feedbacks, and possible teleconnections, must be understood to enhance skills needed for regional climate projections.
Drivers of spatial and temporal climate variability in extratropical Australia
Long-term Australian climate variability, such as droughts prevailing over years and decades, are related to larger scale climate variability connecting remote regions. These involve interactions between the atmosphere and the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans, and can reach even further to near global-scale climate modes.
Mechanisms and attribution of past and future ocean circulation change
The ocean is the ‘flywheel’ of the climate system; it moderates change, drives the atmospheric circulation and determines the global rainfall distribution. The ocean is the main store of energy (>80%) and currently absorbs ~25% of global anthropogenic CO₂ emissions. However, projections of ocean heat content change, sea level rise and carbon storage differ widely.
Computational Modelling Services (CMS)
A major initiative of the Centre is to provide a supported Earth Systems Laboratory (ESL) for researchers to run Earth Systems models and to analyse data.