Past Summer Scholarship Projects

Summer Scholarship Projects 2016/17

The role of the El Niño – Southern Oscillation for Australian droughts (based at UNSW)

Supervised by Dr Andréa Taschetto

This research aims to investigate the role of the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) for long-term droughts in Australia. ENSO is the largest ocean-atmosphere phenomenon in the globe. It impacts many regions around the world, including Australia. El Niño events generally tend to dry the eastern half of Australia, while La Niña events are associated with wet conditions. However, the ENSO – Australian rainfall relationship can vary for several reasons, including according to the shape, intensity, location of those events. This study will make use of a centennial climate model simulations forced with life cycles of El Niños, La Niñas and its different forms, as the one known by El Niño Modoki. Results from this study can potentially explain some of the asymmetric rainfall impacts El Niños and La Niñas have in Australia. This project requires the use of at least one graphical/analysis software (e.g. Matlab, Python, NCL, Ferret) and basic knowledge of statistics.

Tropical Atlantic influence on the 2015/16 Super El Niño (based at UNSW)

Supervised by Dr Jules Kajtar

Climate variability in the tropical Atlantic Ocean is known to influence El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) dynamics. The state of the equatorial Atlantic in winter can generate or enhance El Niño or La Niña events during the following summer. But recent studies have shown that this interannual Atlantic-Pacific connection may exist only during particular phases of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) - a long-period mode of variability in the North Atlantic. This project will investigate the role of the tropical Atlantic on the “super” El Niño of 2015/16, and whether the interaction was similar to such past El Niño events.

Subtropical Mode Water variability in the Southwest Atlantic (based at UNSW)

Supervised by Dr Angela Maharaj

Subtropical Mode Water (STMW) is a homogenous body of water found in the western side of ocean basins but has significant seasonal and interannual variability that is poorly understood. Understanding its variability provides insights into the role of ocean mixing and climate signals for the regional ocean climate. Using gridded ocean datasets, the student will identify STMW in the southwest Atlantic and compute an inventory of the mode water for the past two decades. The inventory will then be compared to climate signals using statistical analyses. Familiarity with Matlab or similar program necessary.

What does remote sensing tell us about ocean characteristics around the Maritime Continent (based at UNSW)

Supervised by Dr Angela Maharaj

The maritime continent region, due to its geographical location is an intriguing region of study for atmospheric and oceanographic circulation.  However, the region also poses many challenges for collecting observations due to its complex land-sea configuration and therefore remotely sensed data here is an invaluable resource.  A better understanding of the dynamics governing the region has the capacity to improve our understanding of atmospheric convection, equatorial dynamics and regional ocean circulation. The student will investigate remotely sensed data in the region with scope to choose from a range of data such as sea surface height(SSH), sea surface temperature (SST), wind scatterometers and ocean colour. For example, the student may examine ocean colour and SST to investigate primary productivity or SSH to examine long term sea level variability.  Familiarity with Matlab or similar program necessary.

Socio-economic extensions to the UNSW climate model (based at UNSW)

Supervised by Dr Alex Sen Gupta and Dr Angela Maharaj

At the CCRC, we have been developing a simple climate model with a web interface to use for climate science education and research. Currently the interface has a range of physical forcing variables (greenhouse gases, solar input, volcanics, etc.), IPCC emission scenarios, and can provide a range of physical outputs (temperature, sea level, etc.). Version 2 of the model is currently under production and will allow for more advance use such as user created scenarios etc. A short term student project in relation to this would be a further extension such as adding in an energy, population or demographics model following a methodology from the scientific literature (provided). This could be used to build scenarios by looking at population growth, energy mix, energy efficiency/ conversion to CO2. Another possibility is for the student to tune the existing model to recreate results for different climate models to allow for quantifying projection uncertainty. Familiarity with Matlab or similar program necessary.

Objective Identification of the North Australian Cloud Lines (based at UNSW)

Supervised by Dr Abhnil Prasad and Professor Steven Sherwood

The North Australian Cloud Line (NACL) is used to describe a family of mesoscale cloud lines appearing over the Gulf of Carpentaria during periods of easterly flow. NACL can be of many types such as long thin lines of small cumuli, shallow convective clouds, or deep convective elements on the leading or trailing edges. Satellite imagery has been used to classify mesoscale cloud lines in the past, but its genesis, decay and overall climatology were limited due to coarser temporal and spatial resolution of the observations. In this project, you will develop and apply an objective identification algorithm to classify NACL using Himawari-8 satellite data available at 1 km resolution every 10 minutes over Northern Australia since July 2015. The frequency of occurrence, evolution, structure and duration of propagation of NACL will be evaluated during different seasons. The candidate should have a basic understanding of atmospheric processes and some knowledge of programming in MATLAB, Python, etc. is desirable.

Air quality impacts from hazard reduction burns (based at UNSW)

Supervised by Dr Melissa Hart and Dr Giovanni Di Virgilio

Hazard reduction burns are vital to reduce the severity of bushfires. However, if hazard reduction burns are undertaken during unfavourable meteorological conditions, they have the capacity to trigger extreme air pollution events. Air pollution events associated with bushfires have been associated with extreme health impacts, including increased hospital admissions and mortality. This project will assess air pollution impacts from both wildfire and prescribed burns. Some experience with GIS and with statistical analysis of large time series data sets using Matlab or R is desirable.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation and the occurrence of Costa Rican “veranillos” and “días averanados” (based at UTas)

Supervised by Dr Eric Oliver, Dr Neil Holbrook, Mauro Vargas and Daniel Ballestero

The seasonal climate of Costa Rica's Pacific region is characterised by a dry season, or “summer”, from December to March and a wet season is identified from May to October. However, during the wet season in the Pacific region there are two notable variations from this seasonal cycle. First, from mid-July to mid-August there is a period of relatively dry summer-like conditions called the “veranillo” (meaning “little summer”) which is related to seasonal variations in the Pacific intertropical convergence zone, mountain ranges, wind patterns and cold fronts within Costa Rica. Second, throughout the wet season there occur relatively short, transient periods of summer-like days called “días averanados” related to periods of strengthened trade winds, often produced by high pressure in the Caribbean Sea. So, what causes these seemingly anomalous conditions, and can we predict them? The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a large-scale mode of climate variability and is related to variations in precipitation and low-level winds throughout the Tropics including Costa Rica. The MJO is known to influence a range of climate phenomena around the world including the start dates of the Indian and Australian monsoons, the likelihood of extreme rainfall in tropical Australia, and the occurrence of tropical cyclones in all basins – and it lends predictability to these phenomena on intraseasonal timescales (weeks to months). This project will investigate the potential links between the MJO on both: (1) the “veranillo” start date, and (2) the occurrence of “días averanados”. This study will utilise the Bureau of Meteorology index for the MJO (Wheeler and Hendon 2004) and observations of precipitation and temperature from meteorological stations in Costa Rica. Outcomes from this project will improve our understanding of the predictability of “veranillos” and “días averanados” in Costa Rica. Potential students should have a general background on climate science and basic programming skills in Matlab or Python, or be willing to learn these skills for the project.

Connectivity between the Maria Island National Reference Station and the adjacent shelf and deep-ocean regions (based at UTas)

Supervised by Dr Eric Oliver and Dr Levente Bodrossy

Microbial oxidation of ammonia to nitrate is one of the crucial steps in the biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen. Euphotic zones of marine waters are conventionally believed to have negligible oxidation rates of ammonia to nitrate. Nitrate in those waters is considered to arise from deeper, nutrient rich waters, where microbial ammonia oxidation takes place, via upwelling events. Observations at the IMOS Maria Island National Reference Station (42S 148E; 85 m deep; on the continental shelf east of Tasmania) shows that the highest nitrate levels in the winter months coincide with up to the third of the microbial community may comprise of ammonia oxidising microbes. The strong correlation between nitrate concentrations and a high abundance of ammonia oxidising microbes raises the question whether the conventional wisdom holds true in this and similar environments. When one-third of the total microbial community is made up by one functional guild, it is a very high proportion, suggesting that these bacteria may be actively functioning and growing, rather than just being transported there by upwelling events. The project will investigate the connectivity between the continental shelf zone and the deep ocean around Tasmania’s East Coast and quantify the effect of local growth versus passive transport from depth on the microbial community composition. Estimates of ocean circulation from the ETAS numerical ocean model, developed at UTAS, will be used to examine connectivity between Maria Island and the surrounding regions. Maria Island lies near the confluence of two major boundary currents in Tasmania: the southward-flowing East Australian Current and the westward- and northward-flowing Zeehan Current. Addition, in winter there can be significant mixing due to strong wind events. Three model experiments will use ETAS to track particles released in three different regions: (1) the deep waters just off the continental shelf break, (2) the shallow waters north and south of Maria Island, and (3) the waters immediately in the vicinity of Maria Island.  Experiments 1 and 2 will allow us to determine the connectivity of passive ocean particles between the deep ocean and the shelf with Maria Island while Experiment 3 will allow us to determine the retention rate of particles in the vicinity of Maria Island. From these results, we aim to shed light on the role of microbial ammonia oxidation in the euphotic waters over the continental shelf. This in turn may have a profound effect on our understanding of the biogeochemical nitrogen cycle in marine environments.

Estimating when a climate change signal appeared in Australian climate extremes (based at UMelb)

Supervised by Dr Andrew King

Climate change has increased the likelihood of extreme heat events, like the “Angry Summer” of 2013, whilst reducing the risk of cold events. But when did a climate change signal first appear in these events? This project will use climate observations and model simulations to investigate different methods for finding when a climate signal became apparent in Australian extremes. The student will gain useful skills for analysing large datasets as well as developing programming skills. Any previous knowledge of a programming language like IDL, MATLAB or R would be beneficial. The student would also have the opportunity to write up their results for a peer-reviewed publication potentially.

Turbulent driving of mesoscale cloud systems (based at UMelb)

Supervised by Dr Martin Jucker

Seemingly random small scale turbulent convection is known to spontaneously organise into long-lived structures at the mesoscale. This has important implications on the distribution of precipitation within the tropics and large scale dynamics of the atmosphere. Even though self-organisation can be identified in both observations and model data, it is not clear what the underlying mechanisms are. On the other hand, better understanding of these processes might lead to improved parameterisations of convection in climate models. This project seeks to apply mathematically derived formulation from quasi-two-dimensional turbulence theory to cloud system resolving model (CSRM) simulations. It builds on recent and ongoing work on the coupling between gravity waves and tropical convection performed within the School of Earth Sciences. It involves simple parameter scans performed with a two-dimensional CSRM and comparing theory with model output. The project is suitable for a student with a strong analytical background, and an understanding of wave dynamics would be an advantage.

Can we detect early signs of decadal climate shifts? (based at UMelb)

Supervised by Dr Benjamin Henley and Dr Shayne McGregor

Decadal climate mechanisms are the subject of great interest internationally, including the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), which has been implicated in the pause in global warming since around 1999. The IPO also influences the impacts of ENSO on hydrological regimes around the world. A shift to IPO positive phase could trigger acceleration of global surface temperature. However, our knowledge of the dynamical mechanisms of the IPO, its relation to the PDO, and its association with the El Niño Southern Oscillation is in its infancy. This is partially due to limited observational data in the mid to deep ocean (700-2000m). The ARGO float array has enabled the development of subsurface temperature fields to greater depths since 2005. This project will consider recently developed dynamical theories for the IPO and will examine ARGO float data to investigate the potential to detect early signs of shifts in the IPO. This project would suit a competent student with some experience and knowledge in analysing large datasets and an interest in ocean dynamics, climate variability and climate change.

Observations of the Seabreeze over the Great Barrier Reef (based at UMelb)

Supervised by Dr Claire Vincent and A/Prof Todd Lane

The tropical seabreeze is a dominant factor in the coastal wind climate in the tropics. It is important not only in controlling low-level wind and moisture, but because of its interplay with coastal convection. The tropical seabreeze has been widely studied using high-resolution mesoscale modelling and satellite wind observations. The offshore extent of the tropical seabreeze has been found to depend on background wind conditions and large-scale cloudiness that modulates surface heating.
However, studies have often lacked detailed in-situ offshore observations of the tropical seabreeze. In October 2016, extensive in-situ offshore observations of the tropical seabreeze will be collected over the Great Barrier Reef as part of a collaborative research voyage. In this project, the student will work with observations collected over the Great Barrier Reef. Depending on the quality of the data collected, the student may work with tasks such as: quality controlling and cleaning datasets, deducing the average signature of the seabreeze, exploring the relationship between seabreeze strength and convection during the campaign, and comparing results to modelling and satellite estimates. Experience with a programming language such as Matlab, Python or R would be an advantage for  this project.

Origins, transport and composition of aerosols (based at UMelb)

Supervised by Professor Peter Rayner, Dr Jeremy Silver and Dr Steven Utembe

Atmospheric particulate matter has many subtle and important impacts on weather, climate and human health. However there is huge diversity under the broad heading of "particulate matter" (PM), and a proper characterisation of PM and its potential impacts requires an understanding of aerosol composition, age, size and origin. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation measures the elemental composition PM at a number of sites around the country. The elemental profile allows for separation of the PM mass into a range of different sources (e.g. traffic, wind-blown dust, industrial, mining, sea salt).
We wish to identify and validate the origins of the air-masses carrying the individual particulate types. This is important for better understanding the spatial distribution of PM emissions around major Australian cities. The student would get a crash-course in atmospheric modelling, in particular Lagrangian particulate dispersion models to infer potential origin of such air-masses. They will learn about particulate matter, its origins and impacts. Depending on the interest of the student, there is the potential develop skills in data analysis, Bayesian statistics and spatial inference.

Street canyon modelling with dynamic agent-based traffic emissions (based at UMelb)

Supervised by Professor Peter Rayner, Dr Jeremy Silver and Dr Steven Utembe

Urban air pollution is a growing health concern in Australia. In modern cities, the concentration of population and air pollution coincide, and traffic is a major source of personal exposure to air pollutants. There is particular interest in the impacts of fine aerosols (2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller). Models provide a means of studying spatio-temporal variability in concentrations of such pollutants, ranging in spatial scale from tens of metres to across the entire globe. Only models at fine spatial scales can simulate the sharp gradients that exist in concentrations near emission sources; modelling at larger scales simply averages across the peaks in personal exposure. Urban "street canyons" are often hot-spots for exposure to air pollution. However the accuracy of modelled pollutant concentrations is limited by the quality of the estimated emissions from traffic. Agent-based traffic modelling (simulating individual vehicles rather than average traffic flows) has proved to be more accurate in not only modelling traffic flow, but also emissions of air pollutants. We wish to incorporate agent-based traffic emission estimates in a fast street-canyon air quality model. The student will run the model a number of particular localities, and compare results with available monitoring data. This will be, as far as we are aware, the first study of its kind in Australia. The student will develop a good understanding of micro-scale dynamical modelling. They will hone their computational skills in running the model, and learn some basic applied statistics and data analysis. Depending on the progress and interest of the student, there is also the possibility of applying the model at a range of sites, or using GIS to extract street-canyon geometry more generally.

Seasonal prediction of extreme events over Australia (based at BoM)

Supervised by Dr Julie Arblaster, Dr Pandora Hope and Dr Debra Hudson

This project will examine simulations of the Bureau of Meteorology's next generation seasonal forecast system and its predictions of temperature extremes. Australian temperatures have warmed by approximately 1 degC over the past 50 years, with even greater increases in extremes such as heat waves. The past three spring seasons have broken Australian temperature records, with wide-ranging impacts on agriculture and infrastructure. Recent research has quantified the influence of human-induced warming on these record events using the current version of the Bureau's operational seasonal forecast system. This project will examine similar extreme temperature events in the new system and assess its capability to predict the climate conditions associated with them. The student will be based at the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne and also interact with researchers at Monash University. They will gain experience in evaluating observational data as well as the programming skills required to analyse large data sets using data analysis and visualisation software (e.g. Unix, NCL).

The breakdown of equatorward-drifting ocean eddies (based at ANU)

Supervised by Dr Callum Shakespeare

The ocean surface layer is full of roughly circular, rotating flow structures known as ‘eddies’ which are anomalously warm or cool with respect to the surrounding fluid. The circular structure of an eddy is maintained by a three-way force balance between the radial thermal gradient, the Coriolis force associated with the Earth’s rotation, and the centrifugal force associated with the eddy's rotation. Suppose an initially balanced eddy is advected equatorward in a large-scale ocean current. The Coriolis force is a function of latitude and will decrease as the eddy moves equatorward, thereby pushing the eddy out of balance. Does the eddy adjust to a new balanced state? Or does the eddy breakdown at some critical latitude? What are the implications of such a result for the ocean circulation? In this project, we will investigate these questions using an idealised numerical model and (possibly) simple theory.

Australia’s climate and volcanic eruptions (based at ANU)

Supervised by Dr Sophie Lewis

Volcanic eruptions have one of the largest impacts on our climate, but we still know very little about previous eruptions, how they change climate and how we can best model volcanoes. This project will help fill in gaps about volcanoes by examining the way the climate responded to eruptions in the past. For this project, you will be using palaeoclimate records, observations of Australian climate and global climate models to investigate how major volcanic eruptions have impacted us and our climate. This project would ideally suit a student with some experience of/interest in programming and visualisation, for example with MATLAB, Python, NCL, or IDL.

Atmospheric chemistry climate model evaluation using ozone metrics (based primarily at the Bureau of Meteorology)

Supervised by Dr Robyn Schofield, Dr Matt Woodhouse, Dr Julie Arblaster, Dr Matt Tully

As climate models become more complex they are beginning to routinely incorporate interactive atmospheric chemistry. Recent studies have shown that the Antarctic ozone hole has impacted Southern Hemisphere climate by shifting the wind patterns over the Southern Ocean. Ozone changes are also linked to climate variability in the tropics and midlatitudes. To study these effects ozone chemistry and climate need to be represented in a fully-coupled model. Working with the state-of-the-art Australian chemistry climate model runs made on the national computing infrastructure the ability for us to predict future climate can be tested. Using observations of ozone from balloon soundings and ground-based instruments the model’s ability to reproduce observed ozone behaviour and changes will be tested at various locations ranging from the tropics to Antarctica. The student will examine modelled ozone and the underlying ozone chemistry against observational metrics including seasonal variability and trends in order to provide confidence in future projections. This project will involve unix systems, Matlab (or similar) programming and will give the scholar experience in handling and analysing big chemistry climate model data working with experts at the University of Melbourne, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. 

Reassessing the initiation and predictability of El Nino events (based at Monash)

Applicants for this project should apply through the Monash summer research scholarship scheme (applications close October 7).

Supervised by Dr Shayne McGregor

El Nino events have dramatic impacts on climate and extreme weather around the globe, including floods, droughts and tropical cyclone formation and landfall. While many institutions around the globe offer routine forecasts of these events, the events continue to surprise the experts and defy forecasts. This is despite the improvement in our understanding, numerical models and observations of the tropical Pacific region. This apparent unpredictability is largely thought to stem from the stochastic nature of the event initiation. This study will use a series of atmospheric model simulations to investigate the whether any of the nature of this stochastic forcing and its relationship to background SSTs.

Reconciling differences between satellite and observed ocean surface winds (based at Monash)

Applicants for this project should apply through the Monash summer research scholarship scheme (applications close October 7).

Supervised by Dr Shayne McGregor

Satellites measure surface winds relative to the moving ocean surface, while ocean moorings measure absolute winds at that location. The differences in the measurement types leads to quite large differences in estimates of wind speed, that ultimately need to be corrected. This correction has not occurred to date as measurements of ocean surface currents are generally not available. This project will make use of co-located TAO/TRITON observations of surface winds and currents, along with satellite observed winds to better understand the role of surface currents in these differences and whether it can be corrected for.

 

Summer Scholarship Projects 2015/16

Web-based climate model: A tool for science communication, policy decisions and teaching (Based at UNSW)

Student: Michael Su (Home institution: UNSW)

Supervised by Angela Maharaj and Alex Sen Gupta

Scientists use sophisticated and complex tools to help them understand how the climate (ocean/atmosphere/land/ice) works. In particular, climate models, using possible scenarios of future greenhouse gases emissions can provide forecasts of temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification etc. for the next hundred years or more. This project will allow anyone, from school students to politicians, to access the power of a climate model and run their own scenarios of the future. A simplified climate model has been developed that can be used to quickly estimate how the climate will respond to different climate drivers (e.g. changes in CO2, methane, aerosols). The student will rigorously test this model and help implement a web-based interface so that the model can be widely and freely accessed online.

Candidates will need programming skills (preferably with some knowledge of web application development) and a creative flair to be able to communicate science to the wider public. Knowledge of climate science is also desirable but not essential. The student will learn to apply their programming skills to a highly contemporary applied science and help build a product that has the potential for global reach. The project would suit a student seeking work experience within science communication, web application development or climate science.

Climate extremes teleconnections with ENSO in observations and models (Based at UNSW)

Student: Laurence Garcia-Villada (Home institution: University of Newcastle)

Supervised by Markus Donat and Lisa Alexander  

Climate extremes in most regions of the world undergo strong inter-annual to decadal variability, and their occurrence is often related to specific modes of climate variability. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant mode of climate variability, and local climate conditions in many regions of the world are driven by ENSO. Therefore, it is important to properly understand these ENSO-teleconnections with local climate extremes. Furthermore, climate models have to be able to reproduce these observed relationships if we want to use them for the prediction of regional climate extremes. This project will explore teleconnections between ENSO and regional climate conditions, including extremes, in a range of datasets that incorporate different levels of real-world observations. These datasets comprise gridded observations, atmospheric reanalyses and climate model simulations. The findings will give important insights regarding the capability of climate models to simulate regional climate variability, and help to understand related mechanisms.

Tropical Atlantic influence on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (Based at UNSW)

Student: Zak Baillie (Home institution: Macquarie University)

Supervised by Jules Kajtar

Climate variability in the tropical Atlantic Ocean is known to influence El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) dynamics. The state of the equatorial Atlantic in winter can generate or enhance El Niño or La Niña events during the following summer. But recent studies have shown that this interannual Atlantic-Pacific connection may exist only during particular phases of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) - a long-period mode of variability in the North Atlantic.

This project will investigate the tropical Atlantic-Pacific connection in a range of model data sets, with the aim of identifying the key dynamical drivers behind the connection. A knowledge of Matlab is desirable.

Impact of oceanic circulation changes on the climate and carbon cycle (Based at UNSW)

Student: William Li (Home institution: UNSW)

Supervised by Laurie Menviel

The student will use or help in the development of an Earth System model to study the impact of oceanic circulation changes on either the climate or the carbon cycle. Fortran programming skills are welcome.

How extreme will Australia’s climate get by the late 21st century? (Based at UNSW)

Student: Campbell Young (Home institution: University of Wollongong)

Supervised by: Nick Herold, Daniel Argueso and Lisa Alexander

Various temperature and precipitation extremes are predicted to increase as global warming continues. Focus now needs to move to identifying those regions most at risk. New simulations using state-of-the-art regional climate model simulations over Australia for the 21st century have now been completed to do this. The successful student will analyse various climate indices from these simulations in order to characterise the risk posed to different regions of the country from changes in extremes over the 21st century.

Investigating projected rainfall changes in Australia using different model resolutions (Based at UNSW)

Student: Antony Jones (Home institution: University of Wollongong)

Supervised by Andrea Taschetto

Australian climate is projected to change with increases in greenhouse gases, for example with less rainfall and more hot days over most of the country. Climate models agree better on the future reduction of average rainfall over the southern regions of Australia compared to northern (where the monsoon is important). One of the reasons for the differences over northern Australia could be related to model resolution issues (i.e. the size of model grid cells). In this project we use a climate model run at different resolutions to investigate changes in Australian mean and extreme rainfall projections under Global Warming.

Adaptation activities in Northern Australia: responding to climate extremes (Based at UNSW)

Student: Breana Macpherson-Rice (Home institution: UNSW)

Supervised by Donna Green

Climate extremes impact different Australian communities in a range of ways. For some subpopulations, such as Indigenous communities living on their country, the impacts are profound because building resilience in the health of individuals is vital to maintaining cultural and ecological health of the community and the landscape.  Traditional environmental knowledge includes a vast repository of information that can inform climate change mitigation through offsetting and conservation. This project will use geospatial analysis to investigate the relationship between traditional knowledge and carbon management with the Wik community in Cape York to help build a comprehensive response to climate change and prepare communities to carry out climate adaptation activities.

Rainfall and drivers in Tropical Australia: A probabilistic approach (Based at UTAS)

Student: Roohi Ghelani (Home institution: University of Melbourne)

Supervised by Eric Oliver and Neil Holbrook

Rainfall in tropical Australia varies over a range of time scales: week-to-week, season-to-season, and year-to-year. For example, northern Australia experiences a wet season from November to March and a dry season from April to October.  That means that, probabilistically, there is a greater chance of rainfall during the wet season than during the dry season. That same region, particularly the eastern part, experiences relatively dry conditions during an El Nino event and relatively wet conditions during certain phases of a Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) event. The rainfall variations due to the seasonal cycle, El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the MJO occur on different time scales (seasonally, interannually, and intraseasonally respectively). Together, these drivers each contribute to the probability of rainfall occurring; the probability of rainfall will depend on the state of each driver. This project will assess how the probability of rainfall is affected by the state of the seasonal cycle, ENSO, and the MJO. This assessment will then be used along with forecasts of ENSO and the MJO to build a simple, probabilistic rainfall forecast model. Other processes and their impact on rainfall, such as tropical cyclones, will also be considered.

A comparison of atmospheric forcings of the Southern Ocean (Based at UTAS)

Student: Lilian Fierro Arcos (Home institution: University of Western Australia)

Supervised by Will Hobbs

In order to accurately model changes in the Southern Ocean, it is essential that the surface conditions driving those changes are accurate. Those surface conditions include the wind, rainfall and surface temperature. There are quite large differences in these variables between some of the datasets that are used to drive ocean models, which could have a large impact on the model results. In this project, the student will compare the mean, variability and long term trends of surface conditions over the Southern Ocean across different datasets. This will provide valuable information to inform the design of future ocean climate experiments.

Exploring intriguing rainfall patterns in the tropics (Based at University of Melbourne)

Student: Jason Pursey (Home institution: University of Melbourne)

Supervised by Claire Vincent and Todd Lane

Why does it rain almost every afternoon over New Guinea? Why does it rain during the early hours of the morning over the sea just to the north-east of New Guinea? More mysterious, why is there a regular daily cycle of precipitation over the sea more than 800 km from the New Guinea coast?

In this project, you will delve into detailed numerical simulations that we have run over the tropics to help discover the answer to these questions and more. You will examine several case-study days in order to help us better understand the physical processes behind some of our recent work on offshore propagating precipitation in the tropics.

You need to be experienced with Matlab or Python, and you need to be willing to work with unfamiliar and large data sets.

Quantifying the role of increased greenhouse gas concentrations on changes in Australian heatwaves (Based at University of Melbourne)

Student: Zoe Gillet (Home institution: Monash University)

Supervised by Andrew King

As greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere rise and temperatures increase, we expect that hot days and nights in Australia will become more frequent and have impacts on many aspects of society. Using climate model simulations we can isolate the role of rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations from other potential factors, such as warming sea surface temperatures, in changes to the hottest days and nights. The main goal of this project is to quantify the role of increased atmospheric greenhouse gases has had on changes to Australian heatwaves. The student will compare characteristics of Australian hot days and nights in different model simulations as well as observational data to reach this goal.

The student will learn how to analyse large datasets and visualise climate model data. Previous knowledge in a programming language (e.g. Python, IDL, NCL, Matlab) is highly desirable.

Atmospheric chemistry climate model evaluation using ozone metrics (Based at University of Melbourne/CSIRO)

Student: Kaitlyn Lieschke (Home institution: University of Wollongong)

Supervised by Robyn Schofield, Kane Stone and Matt Woodhouse 

Over recent decades, southern hemisphere climate forcing is equally attributed to both increasing concentrations of ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases. The Antarctic ozone hole and greenhouse gas-induced tropospheric warming have shifted the upper-level winds southward, but as the ozone hole heals these two forcings will begin to oppose each other. To study these effects ozone chemistry and climate need to be represented in a fully-coupled model. Working with the state-of-the-art Australian chemistry climate model runs made on the national computing infrastructure the ability for us to predict future climate can be tested. Using observations of ozone from balloon soundings and ground-based instruments the model’s ability to reproduce the human caused ozone hole will be tested. The student will examine modelled ozone and the underlying ozone chemistry against observational metrics such as the Antarctic ozone hole size, duration and vertical extent to provide confidence in future projections. This project will involve unix systems, Matlab (or similar) programming and will give the scholar experience in handling and analysing big chemistry climate model data working with experts at the University of Melbourne (Kane Stone, Robyn Schofield) and CSIRO (Matt Woodhouse). 

Simple Climate Model Projects (Based at Monash)

Student:

Supervised by Dietmar Dommenget

I have developed the simple climate model: Globally Resolved Energy Balance (GREB) model, that can simulate the global climate response to external forcing. It can compute 100,000yrs of simulation per day on a standard PC computer. Thus it is a nice and simple tool that allows for wide range of studies. Projects examples could be on: Simulating ice age cycles over last 3 mill. years, include stochastic weather variability, build strange worlds or exo-planets or developing new feedbacks like ocean-carbon, glacier ice sheets or atmospheric circulation response. Detailed projects with the GREB model will be formulated together with the student, as there are simply to many different things that could be done with this model to list them all here.

Webpages:

GREB model

Monash Simple Climate Model

Synoptic-scale patterns associated with severe weather outbreaks in Southeast Australia (Based at Monash)

Student:

Supervised by: Robert Warren and Hamish Ramsay

Severe thunderstorms pose a major hazard to life, property, and infrastructure and represent the second most costly category of natural disaster in Australia after flooding. Numerical weather prediction models are only just beginning to be able to resolve these storms, and forecasting them, even a few hours ahead, remains a significant challenge. Meanwhile, the models used for longer-range weather forecasts and predictions of climate change are unlikely to be able to explicitly represent convective systems for many years to come. There is thus great value in understanding the relationship between synoptic-scale atmospheric patterns (which can be well represented with current models) and the occurrence of severe storms and their associated hazards. In this project, we will use the statistical methods of principal component analysis and K-Means clustering to identify synoptic-scale weather patterns associated with severe thunderstorm outbreaks in Southeast Australia and assess the predictive power offered by these patterns.

Requirements:

The work for this project will involve extensive programming; therefore, some experience with a language such as Python, Matlab, or IDL is a requirement. Knowledge of the statistical methods being employed (principal component analysis and K-Means clustering) and experience working with large datasets is desirable but not necessary.

Characterizing extreme precipitating fronts (Based at Monash)

Student: James Murray (Home institution: Monash University)

Supervised by: Jennifer Catto

Atmospheric fronts are very important for the day-to-day variability of weather in the midlatitudes.  They are responsible for producing a large amount of the total rainfall, and a very large proportion of extreme precipitation.  In this project the characteristics of these fronts will be investigated to answer the question; Why do some fronts give extreme precipitation and others do not?  Understanding more of the processes responsible for extreme precipitation will allow us to evaluate state-of-the-art climate models and to better predict future changes.

Interest in weather and climate is a must, and experience in a programming language such as NCL, IDL, Matlab or Python is required.

Reassessing the initiation and predictability of El Nino events (Based at Monash)

Student: Craig Ryan (Home institution: Monash University)

Supervised by Shayne McGregor and Dietmar Dommenget

El Nino events have dramatic impacts on climate and extreme weather around the globe, including floods, droughts and tropical cyclone formation and landfall. While many institutions around the globe offer routine forecasts of these events, the events continue to surprise the experts and defy forecasts. This is despite the improvement in our understanding, numerical models and observations of the tropical Pacific region. This apparent unpredictability is largely thought to stem from the stochastic nature of the event initiation. This study will use a series of atmospheric model simulations to investigate the whether any of the nature of this stochastic forcing and its relationship to background SSTs.

As the work for this project will involve numerical modelling and data anslysis, some experience and/or interest with a programming language such as Python, Matlab, or IDL is a requirement. Experience working with large datasets is desirable but not necessary.

Unraveling the changing patterns of Australian rainfall (Based at ANU)

Student: Sebastian Wong (Home institution: University of Newcastle)

Supervised by: Nerilie Abram

The warm tropical waters around Indonesia are an important source of rainfall for Australia. When the temperature of the water in this area is warmer than usual Australia receives more rain, while cooler ocean temperatures cause widespread drought. Understanding the cycles of Australian droughts and floods, and how these patterns might be affect by climate change, requires a long-term perspective on what causes ocean temperature in the tropics to vary. This type of information can be reconstructed by using the detailed climate records preserved in the skeletons of corals.

The area around Sunda Strait (between the islands of Java and Sumatra) is likely to be a critical area for determining Australian rainfall patterns; this is one of the major pathways that brings warm water from the Pacific Ocean to the eastern Indian Ocean, as well as an area where wind patterns can cause cool deep water to upwell to the surface ocean. In June 2012 an RSES expedition to Sunda Strait collected a set of fossil coral cores to study the climate history of this region over the last 7000 years.

This research project will involve micro sampling coral cores from Sunda Strait and performing stable isotope and trace element analysis to assess the variability of Sunda Strait waters since the mid-Holocene. This will provide a new understanding of how sensitive Australian rainfall patterns are to changes in ocean temperature in this region of the Indonesian archipelago.

Summer Scholarship Projects 2014/15

How will the Southern Ocean respond to Anthropogenic Forcing? (Based at UNSW)

Student: Tomas Beuzen (Home institution - UNSW)

Supervised by Paul Spence

Atmospheric observations from the past few decades reveal a poleward shift and strengthening of Southern Hemisphere westerly winds that appears to be due to anthropogenic forcing, with increasing atmospheric concentrations of both ozone-depleting gases and greenhouse gases identified as playing critical roles. Concurrent oceanic observations also indicate that portions of the Southern Ocean have been warming at nearly twice the rate of the global ocean. The focus of this research project is to evaluate the Southern Ocean response to anthropogenic forcing with a particular focus on Antarctic Bottom Water formation and the Antarctic Circumpolar transport. The student will gain valuable hands-on experience in running and analysing high-resolution global ocean models.

Finding NEMO in an El Niño (Based at UNSW)
 

Student: Mollie Burns (Home institution: Monash University)

Supervised by Shayne McGregor and Paul Spence

The East Australian Current (EAC) is Australia’s most powerful ocean current. It moves warm water southwards along the east coast, carrying thousands of marine fauna from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney Harbor and beyond. In this study we will investigate relationships between the EAC and Earth’s largest source of inter-annual variability: the El Niño Southern Oscillation. El Niño events are thought to weaken the EAC, which raises the question: could MARLIN still ride the EAC to find NEMO if it was during an El Niño?

Predicting how Australian weather extremes will change with Global Warming (Based at UNSW)

Student: James Roberts (Home Insitution: The University of Auckland)

Supervised by Andrea S. Taschetto and Alex Sen Gupta

Australian climate is projected to change with increase in greenhouse gases. The IPCC reports large increases in temperature and an increase in the frequency of maximum daily temperature over most of the country. At the same time rainfall is projected to decrease while extremes in daily rainfall are very likely to increase across the country. Different climate models agree better on the future reduction of average rainfall over the southern regions of Australia compared to northern (where the monsoon is important). One of the reasons for the differences over northern Australia could be related to problems that the climate models have in simulating the observed mechanisms associated with the monsoon system. An important factor here may relate to the resolution (i.e. the size of model grid cells) of the model. In this project we investigate the role of model resolution for Australian mean and extreme rainfall and temperature projections under Global Warming. The candidate should have basic knowledge in programming language (Fortran, Python, etc) or previous experience with a visualization software (MATLAB is preferred, Ferret, IDL, etc). Basic knowledge of atmospheric science and statistics is also desirable.

The past, present and future frequency of climate “hiatuses” (Based at UNSW)

Student: Daisy Ambach (Home institution: The University of Queensland)

Supervised by Steven Phipps

Global-mean surface temperature has remained roughly constant over the past 15 years, despite increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. There are multiple and contrasting explanations for the origin of this “hiatus” in global warming. This project will use global climate model simulations to explore the past, present and future frequency of climate hiatuses. Simulations of past changes in the climate will be analysed to determine the natural frequency of periods with stable or decreasing global temperatures, as well as to investigate the potential influences of the sun and volcanoes. Projections of future changes will be used to study the frequency and duration of future hiatuses, under a range of climate change scenarios. Experience with packages for data analysis and visualisation, such as Ferret, IDL, MATLAB, python or R, would be desirable.

Investigating relationships between mean temperatures and heatwaves (Based at UNSW)

Student: Jacqueline Fenwick (Home institution: University of Bern, Switzerland)

Supervised by Sarah Perkins

The successful candidate will contribute in investigating relationships between changes in mean temperature and heatwaves. Namely, they will undertake analysis on the CMIP5 model archive and help determine any similarities or differences between the rate of change in mean temperature and various heatwave characteristics (such as intensity, frequency and duration) for selected global regions. Heat waves will be measured by a methodology previously constructed by the supervisors for historical simulations of climate, as well as future projections such as the RCP8.5 emission scenario (‘business as usual’) up until the end of the 21st century. If time permits, historical relationships from model simulated data will be compared to those found in observations. Such analysis will help determine the role of internal variability combined with anthropogenic activity in the future changes of heat waves. It is preferred that the candidate is reasonably strong in statistics and MATLAB scripting or python, as these are the languages the heat wave code is written in.

Influence of soil moisture variability and trend on climate extremes in Australia (Based at UNSW)

Student: Georgia Tsambos (Home institution: UNSW)

Supervised by Ruth Lorenz

Land-atmosphere feedbacks can influence the climate as well as extreme events. For example dry soil moisture conditions have been shown to enhance heat waves in Europe and the US. The goal of the project is to increase the knowledge about land-climate feedbacks over Australia.

The student will investigate the influence of soil moisture variability and trends on Australian climate and climate extremes. Processes in present climate can be compared to projections into the future.

The student would learn to handle and visualize a big dataset from multiple state-of-the-art global climate models.  Knowledge of any analysis program such as NCL, R, Python, Matlab etc. is desirable.

Variability in an idealised oceanic western boundary current (Based at UNSW)

Student: Alex Lin (Home Institution: UNSW)

Supervised by Leela Frankcombe and Andrew Kiss

What sets the time scale for eddy shedding in oceanic western boundary currents such as the East Australia Current? While the currents themselves have an time scale on which they naturally vary (their 'internal' time scale), they are also influenced by other forms of variability with different time scales. These 'external' time scales vary from annual and interannual (e.g. the seasonal cycle and ENSO) to much faster time scales (associated with short lived weather systems). 

This project will involve using an idealised model of a western boundary current to study how the internal time scale of the current and external time scale of the forcing interact in the presence of high frequency variability. The student will gain experience in running and analysing a numerical model. Some knowledge of programming would be an advantage.  

Quantifying rain falling from East Coast Cyclones (Based at UNSW)

Student: Francis Torok (Home Institution: University of Tasmania)

Supervised by Alejandro Di Luca and Jason Evans

The eastern seaboard of Australia is influenced by the passage of various types of low pressure systems from tropical and ex-tropical cyclones in the northern part to mid-latitude cyclones mostly in the southern part that are generally designated as East Coast Lows (ECLs). Through their passage near the coast, these cyclones may leave behind a great amount of rainfall that can lead to intense flooding but that also constitutes a major source of water for the reservoirs serving coastal communities.

The objective of this project is to quantify the amount of rainfall falling from individual ECLs and to estimate the contribution of ECLs to the total precipitation over the eastern coast of Australia. The project will make use of a recently developed ECL dataset that is based on the new generation of global reanalyses and contains information about ECLs that occurred in the lasts 30 years. The dataset describes a number of physical characteristics of ECLs (e.g., intensity, size and location) that are needed to estimate their associated rainfall. Precipitation will be quantified using the analyses of in-situ observations produced by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology as part of the Australian Water Availability Project (AWAP). Previous knowledge of data analysis and visualization tools such as  Python, IDL or MATLAB is highly desired.

Estimating ocean-atmosphere transfer of freshwater in the North Atlantic, from satellite and Argo float data (Based at University of Tasmania)

Student: Claire Sotiriadis (Home Institution: The University of Queensland)

Supervised by Will Hobbs

One of the most serious consequences expected from anthropogenic climate change is intensification of the global hydrological cycle, which could cause drought in some regions and floods elsewhere. Direct observations of changes in evaporation and precipitation are few and far between. However it is widely believed that changes in ocean salinity can be used to estimate the transfer of water between the ocean and atmosphere, to give a useful indication of changes in the hydrological cycle. This project will involve calculating the ocean transport of heat and freshwater between two latitudes in the North Atlantic, to estimate the regional net surface freshwater flux. This will be a valuable contribution to understanding how surface salinity relates to changes in the ocean circulation, and the atmosphere water cycle.

How does the Madden-Julian Oscillation affect extreme sea levels around Australia? (Based at University of Tasmania)

Student: Genevieve Tolhurst (Home institution: The Unversity of Melbourne)

Supervised by Eric Oliver

The Madden-Julian Oscillation is the dominant mode of intraseasonal (30-90 days) variability in the tropical atmosphere. It influences the ocean through changes in surface wind forcing, heat flux, and freshwater input from rainfall. These influences can be particularly strong in coastal regions and are expressed in many ways including as changes in coastal sea level. For example, in the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia, wind forcing from the Madden-Julian Oscillation can cause variations in sea level of up to 20 cm over a time period of three to four weeks. On the west coast of Australia, the Madden-Julian Oscillation excites a coastal wave off of the Kimberley which propagates south along the continental shelf at least as far as Fremantle leading to sea level variations of up to +/- 4 cm.

Extreme sea level events can cause massive destruction and even loss of life in coastal communities. The worst events often occur when several factors combine constructively such as a storm surge occurring at high tide. Understanding the predictability of these events would be of great value in providing useful and accurate information on the severity of upcoming extreme sea level events. This project will look at extreme sea levels around Australia and their relationship to the Madden-Julian Oscillation. In particular, we will ask the following questions: How severe in magnitude are extreme sea level events which occur during certain phases of the Madden-Julian Oscillation? How does the probability of severe extreme sea level events change according to the phase and strength of the Madden-Julian Oscillation? Can this information be usefully included alongside other factors, such as storm surges and tide levels, when forecasting extreme sea levels?

An understanding of probability and statistics as well as familiarity with data analysis programs such as MATLAB, Python, or R is desirable.

Observations of Leeuwin Current eddies – 3D circulation and density structure (Based at University of Tasmania)

Student: Eldene O'Shea (Home institution: University of Tasmania)

Supervised by Helen Phillips and Nathan Bindoff

Eddies generated by instability of the Leeuwin Current off the west coast of Australia travel westward into the Indian Ocean. Warm core eddies carry with them the warm, nutrient rich waters, and elements of the coastal ecosystem they capture at formation.  Detailed surveys of these eddies have been made close to the coast, but we do not know how they evolve as they move offshore. Novel EM-APEX profiling floats, deployed from R.V. Southern Surveyor in 2013, have measured the velocity and density structure inside and outside Leeuwin Current eddies off the west coast of Australia. With these data we will examine the 3D circulation, including vertical mixing, of the warm and cold-core eddies encountered by the floats, as well as the background circulation of the southeastern Indian Ocean. This project will involve data analysis and visualisation using matlab (or equivalent). We anticipate this work will contribute to a peer-reviewed publication.

Observations of Leeuwin Current eddies – Interaction of physics and biogeochemistry (Based at University of Tasmania)

Student: Valeria Cristina Prando (Home institution: DRA)

Supervised by Helen Phillips and Pete Strutton

Eddies generated by instability of the Leeuwin Current off the west coast of Australia travel westward into the Indian Ocean. Warm core eddies carry with them the warm, nutrient rich waters, and elements of the coastal ecosystem they capture at formation.  Cold core eddies also propagate into the Indian Ocean but when they form, their clockwise rotation captures colder, saltier, lower-nutrient offshore water. Detailed surveys of these eddies have been made close to the coast, but we do not know how they evolve as they move offshore, particularly in terms of the nutrients and productivity inside the eddies. In 2012 and 2013, our research voyages in the southeast Indian Ocean targeted one warm-core and one cold-core eddy for detailed physical and biogeochemical sampling.  With these data we will examine the watermass properties, velocity structure and vertical mixing across each of the eddies, and compare the in situ data with satellite observations of sea surface temperature, salinity, height and chlorophyll.  The satellite data will then allow us to extend our understanding of our target eddies to the wider population of eddies in the Indian Ocean. This project will involve data analysis and visualisation using matlab (or equivalent). We anticipate this work will contribute to a peer-reviewed publication.

Very short-lived halogenated substance observations and modeling (Based primarily at CSIRO Aspendale in Melbourne, with some time at the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with the Department of Environment)

Student: Andrew Brown (Home Institution: University of Melbourne)

Supervisored by Robyn Schofield and Paul Krummel

The convective transport of very short-lived halogens from the boundary layer to the stratosphere is a major source of uncertainty in determining the recovery of stratospheric ozone under the Montreal protocol. The climate of the southern hemisphere (SH) has been largely influenced by the Antarctic ozone hole over the last 30 years, thus understanding its recovery is essential to SH climate predictions. This project will be conducted in collaboration with Greenhouse gas group at CSIRO in Aspendale and involve learning observational techniques for the brominated and iodinated organic carbon substances produced from algae. There is the possibility to perform analyses for Cape Grim data, which would contribute to a peer reviewed publication. It will also involve using model outputs of tropical convection to predict the delivery of these species to the stratosphere working at the University of Melbourne.

A decadal climatology of Antarctic tropospheric ozone intrusions (Based at Australian Antarctic Division/University of Tasmania, in collaboration with the Department of Environment)

Student: Jesse Greenslade (Home institution: University of Wollongong)

Supervised by Simon Alexander and Robyn Schofield

Periodic large increases in ozone, and corresponding decreases in water vapour are observed above Davis station, coastal east Antarctica (69S). Both of these greenhouse gases strongly influence the radiative environment of the troposphere and by characterizing the meteorological conditions under which they occur this project aims to lead to climate model improvements. Ozonesondes resolve the vertical profile of ozone from the ground to mid-stratosphere and have been launched at Davis since 2003. Using these data, along with ERA-Interim re-analyses data (which provide wind and temperature over the Antarctic), the goals of the project are to characterise the meteorology under which ozone intrusions occur, determine their frequency and estimate the seasonal mass transport from the stratosphere to the troposphere. If time permits, the project will perform a similar analysis above Macquarie Island (54S). The student researcher will gain skills in developing computer code and applying existing algorithms. The project would suit a student who has some previous programming experience with the view that this work would contribute to a peer-reviewed publication.

 

Summer Scholarship Projects 2013

Climate-carbon cycle interactions on centennial to millennial time scales (based at UNSW)

Student: Caio Fest (home institution- Sydney University (on exchange from Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil)

Supervised by Laurie Menviel

Past changes in the oceanic circulation had a significant impact on the climate as well as on the carbon cycle. The goal of the project is to study climate-carbon cycle interactions linked to past and possible future changes in the oceanic circulation. The work involves running numerical experiments using a model of intermediate complexity as well as analysing model outputs. A knowledge of “Matlab” and/or “Ferret” is desirable.

Spatial patterns of precipitation changes in a warming world (based at UNSW)

Student: Andrew Lowry (home institution- University of Queensland)

Supervised by Markus Donat and Lisa Alexander

Precipitation changes in a warming world are often described as a “wet-get-wetter, dry-get-drier” pattern. However, this pattern is usually only found in global data sets that also include precipitation over the oceans. A recent study using only land-based monthly precipitation totals could not identify such a pattern. As precipitation changes over land are most relevant in terms of their societal impacts, it is important to understand how precipitation patterns, including extreme precipitation, are changing here.

This project will investigate global patterns of precipitation changes over land across a range of different observational and climate model data sets. It will consider changes in precipitation amounts at different time scales (daily to annual totals), and in particular investigate changes in extreme precipitation relative to precipitation totals. Some knowledge of data analysis programs such as R, MatLab, IDL, python, etc. is desirable.
 

How will the Southern Ocean respond to Anthropogenic Forcing? (based at UNSW)

Student: David Crock (home institution- University of Melbourne)

Supervised by Paul Spence

Atmospheric observations from the past few decades reveal a poleward shift and strengthening of Southern Hemisphere westerly winds that appears to be due to anthropogenic forcing, with increasing atmospheric concentrations of both ozone-depleting gases and greenhouse gases identified as playing critical roles. Concurrent oceanic observations also indicate that portions of the Southern Ocean have been warming at nearly twice the rate of the global ocean. The focus of this research project is to evaluate the Southern Ocean response to anthropogenic forcing with a particular focus on Antarctic Bottom Water formation and the Antarctic Circumpolar transport. The student will gain valuable hands-on experience in running and analysing high-resolution global ocean models.

Future projections of heat waves (based at UNSW)

Student: Nicholas Calhau (home institution- UNSW)

Supervised by Sarah Perkins and Lisa Alexander

The successful candidate will contribute in determining future projections of summertime heat waves in a global climate model. Namely, they will undertake analysis on the 21-member Community Earth System Model, and construct projections of changes in a range of heat wave characteristics including their intensity, frequency and duration. Heat waves will be measured by a methodology previously constructed by the supervisors for the RCP8.5 emission scenario (‘business as usual’) up until the end of the 21st century. Analysis will initially be for Australia, however will be carried out for the globe if time permits. Such analysis will help determine the role of internal variability combined with anthropogenic activity in the future changes of heat waves. It is preferred that the candidate is reasonably strong in statistics and MATLAB scripting, or if not, in IDL, as these are the languages the heat wave code is written in.

Biological production in the ocean estimated from satellite observations and Lagrangian modelling (based at UNSW)

Student: Peter Thanh Tam Nguyen (home institution- UNSW)

Supervised by Shane Keating

Primary production by phytoplankton is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to form organic carbon in the ocean’s illuminated surface layers, where it can then be transported to the deep ocean. Understanding this “biological carbon pump” is an important element of global climate change predictions. We will use satellite observations of ocean colour --- a proxy for phytoplankton --- and Lagrangian modelling of fluid parcels to separate changes due to ocean currents from changes due to biological processes and hence estimate primary production.

Understanding the ‘memory’ of the ocean: examining large-scale ocean adjustment through satellite remote sensing

Student: Chaehyeon Chelsea Nam (home institution- Sydney University (on exchange from Seoul National University))

Supervised by Angela Maharaj

The unprecedented resolution of satellite altimetry has revealed the existence of westward propagating features in the world ocean from seasonal to decadal timescales. These are the surface signature of the ocean adjusting to perturbations and help determine the timing of climate variability such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. A student is required to conduct spectral analysis of global sea surface heights from satellite altimetry data to explore and characterise westward propagating signals in observations of sea surface heights. Depending on the student's interest, westward propagation in remotely sensed observations will be compared to model data or emerging theories on ocean adjustment to isolate which mechanisms dominate the ocean’s 'memory'. A basic familiarity with MATLAB is essential as well as some knowledge of physical oceanography. Basic knowledge of signal processing (e.g., Fourier or Radon Transform) would also be very useful. This project would suit a student seeking to gain experience in ocean remote sensing and/or analysing large geophysical observational datasets.

Improved estimates of North Atlantic heat and freshwater transport  (based at UTAS)

Student: Kévin Guerreiro (home institution- UTAS (on internship from Université Paul Sabatier & Ecole Nationale de Météorologie, Toulouse))

Supervised by Will Hobbs

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is one of the key deep ocean circulations in the world, and is especially important for modulating the climates of N. America and western Europe; recent work also shows possible climate teleconnections to Antarctica and Australia. However, direct observations are limited to just a few key latitudes, defined by the availability of expensive arrays or useful bathymetry. In this work, the student will combine existing data from satellites and the Argo array, with in situ observations of the western boundary current, to test time series estimates of the mid latitude AMOC transport.

Cool changes in Southern Australia (based primarily at Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, with some time at Monash)

Student: Nicholas Loveday (home institution- Monash University)

Supervised by Will Thurston and Jennifer Catto

During summer in the south of Australia, the passage of a cold front often brings a welcome drop in the temperature.  These events are referred to locally as “cool changes”. The abrupt change in wind direction that frequently accompanies the cool change results in an elevated bushfire risk, so understanding and forecasting these cool changes is very important. This project offers an exciting opportunity for a student researcher to contribute to this understanding. Working with scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology and Monash University, the aim of the project is to identify identify cool changes in the data from automatic weather stations (AWS) to produce climatologies of these events for various locations. If time permits, the ability of the Bureau of Meteorology's operational numerical weather prediction system to forecast cool changes will also be assessed. This project would ideally suit a student with some experience of programming and visualisation, for example with Python, NCL, MATLAB or IDL.

Ozone and Australian climate variability (based at the Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne)

Student: Nicholas McCarthy (home institution- University of Queensland)

Supervised by Julie Arblaster, Matt Tully and Robyn Schofield

The ozone layer helps to protect the Earth's surface from harmful UV radiation that has impacts on both humans and ecosystems. Since the 1980's an ozone hole has formed over Antarctica in early spring - due to man-made cluorofluorocarbons - and typically reaches maximum size in October. The ozone hole is projected to recover over the next century, however its size and strength varies from year to year. This project will explore both ozone records from the Bureau of Meteorology and climate models to investigate linkages between ozone and climate variability in the Australian region. It will involve identifying the weather patterns that lead to extreme low total column ozone (high UV) days and explore whether these patterns are projected by climate models to become more or less likely in the future.  The student will be based at the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne and also interact with Centre of Excellence researchers at the University of Melbourne. They will gain experience in evaluating observational data as well as the programming skills required to analyse large data sets using data analysis and visualisation software (e.g. NCL).

How much is climate change influencing Australia’s extreme temperatures? (based at University of Melbourne)

Student: Minghong Yu (home institution- Flinders University)

Supervised by Sophie Lewis and David Karoly

Australia experienced its hottest summer on record in 2012-13 and recent research showed that there was a substantial human influence on these record temperatures from global warming

Changes in the average climate from global warming can lead to very large changes in the occurrence of extreme events like our record hot summer. Investigating exactly which extreme events are influenced by anthropogenic climate change is an important research goal.

In this project, you will investigate extreme seasonal and annual temperatures averaged across Australia and for each of the states using the latest state-of-the-art global climate models. Using this set of models and novel model experiments, you will analyse human influences on record Australian seasonal and annual temperatures. You will develop look-up tables for the human contribution to new record high average temperatures across Australia and provide useful information for understanding possible future climate impacts.

Water vapour transport into the stratosphere due to the Australian Monsoon (based at University of Melbourne)

Student: Sam Monkiewicz (home institution- University of Melbourne)

Supervised by Robyn Schofield, Wiebke Frey and Todd Lane

Water vapour is the most potent greenhouse gas. However, it is very different from anthropogenically changing gases, its atmospheric concentration is controlled by temperature. The Australian monsoon is an important region controlling stratospheric water vapour  - an important yet poorly understood climate parameter. Deep convective events - followed by slow raising air in the tropical region to the North of Australia are known to be important. In this project you will run and analyse back trajectories in the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. With the help of these trajectories you can study the air mass transport and troposphere-stratosphere-exchange processes and the impact of deep convective processes.

Rossby waves and climate variability in southern Australia (based at Monash)

Student: Mollie Burns (home institution- Monash University)

Supervised by Laura O’Brien

This is an exciting opportunity to explore the dynamics of the southern hemisphere and develop a new way of understanding climate variability in Australia.

Large amplitude Rossby waves stir up the atmosphere generating cutoff cyclones and anticyclones. This creates the weather systems we see on a daily basis such as strong winds, warmer temperatures, increased rainfall and storms. These anomalies are measured and identified through the potential vorticity. Patterns of cyclones equatorward of anticyclones induce easterly winds and may bring more rainfall to the east coast of Australia.

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is the north-south movement of the westerly wind belt in the Southern hemisphere and is an important driver of rainfall in southern Australia. In this project you will explore the connection between these cutoff patterns and the SAM aiming to bring a new understanding to the SAM. This will involve analysis of ERA-Interim data, using Matlab to create composites of the frequency of these cutoff anomalies in the Southern hemisphere during positive and negative modes of the SAM.

The impact of modelled sea surface temperature errors on Australian Climate (based at Monash)

Student: Alex Cameron (home institution- Monash University)

Supervised by Jennifer Catto and Duncan Ackerley

This project offers the opportunity to contribute to important research on understanding changes in Australian climate.

Tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have a large impact on the global circulation. Convection over warm waters produces heating in the atmosphere. This sets off Rossby waves, which impact the location of the jet stream and the paths of extratropical cyclones and fronts.

Many climate models have large tropical SST errors. In particular, they are known to have errors that directly affect the climate of Australia. In this project, the influence of different tropical SST errors will be investigated using a number of climate model simulations. The work will provide a vital assessment of these errors, which will contribute to improving estimates of future climate changes.

The student researcher would apply existing programs and write their own programs to calculate various statistics and visualise the data from the model simulations. They will have the opportunity to write up this work and potentially contribute to a peer‐reviewed publication.

A hail climatology for Victoria and associated proximity environments (based at Monash)

Student: Adam Brownstein (home institution- Monash University)

Supervised by Hamish Ramsay

Severe thunderstorms are among the most costly natural hazards to affect Australia each year, yet compared to other hazards, such as tropical cyclones, we know relatively little about their climatology and associated formative environments.  The Bureau of Meteorology defines a severe thunderstorm as one which produces any of: hail of 2cm diameter or greater; wind gusts of 90 km/h or greater; flash floods; or tornadoes.  

Drawing on the Bureau of Meteorology's severe storm archive as a starting point, the first part of this project will be to produce a detailed climatology of hail events over Victoria, including spatial distribution, severity, and seasonality.  The second part of the project, time permitting, will involve the use of proximity soundings to analyse the environments in which these storms formed.

 

 

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