Research program: The effects of tropical convection on Australia's climate

Convection is the atmospheric phenomenon that leads to upward and downward air motions, producing most clouds and rain.  It can be shallow and produce little rain, or reach all the way to the lower stratosphere and produce heavy rains, as well as thunder and lightning.  Deep convection in the Tropics can be triggered by very subtle influences, and drives atmospheric wind systems that can affect the weather or climate thousands of kilometres away. Convective processes are also often critical in extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones and hail storms.

While the processes of convection are broadly understood there remain significant gaps in our knowledge. These gaps have made it impossible for weather and climate models to provide reliable predictions of precipitation, particularly where convection is a dominant process.

The Centre will conduct a fundamental re-examination of convection processes that when completed should substantially improve the physical foundation of climate models. This has the potential to lead to significant improvements in the ability of climate models to reliably simulate rainfall over key regions in Australia over a variety of time scales.

This will help us predict changes to precipitation in important regions and put in place infrastructure to adapt to changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events.

Chief Investigators

Partner Investigators

  • Dr Harry Hendon (CAWCR-BoM)
  • Dr Peter May (CAWCR-BoM)
  • Dr Wojciech Grabowski (National Centre for Atmospheric Research, USA)
  • Dr Sandrine Bony (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France)


UNSW logo ANU logo Monash logo UMelb logo UTAS logo