Big changes in our research climate

The last few months set new records in the rate at which our global climate is changing. It has also been a period of great change in our research and operations environment – some of it good, some of it not so good. Here is a summary of some of the things that are happening outside and inside of OzEWEX.

A difficult time for Climate and Water Research

The job cuts among CSIRO’s climate and water scientists probably didn’t escape your notice. Is the announced establishment of a new CSIRO Climate Science Centre real progress or cynical spin? You decide. The ongoing change in our climate does not stop there though. You may also be aware that several other organisations are going through a period of review or funding uncertainty: the Bureau of Meteorology’s Water Division, the Centre of Excellence on Climate System Science (ARCCSS), and the facilities part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), including the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN). All these organisations have supported our OzEWEX community and we cross our fingers for a good outcome.

Seth Westra new OzEWEX co-chair

A positive change in OzEWEX: I am very happy to announce that in January 2017, Dr Seth Westra will join me as OzEWEX co-chair. Seth has done a great job chairing his WG on Trends & Extremes, and I am looking forward to his ideas and together making OzEWEX as useful as it can be.

Time to call it a day

It is with some regret that the OzEWEX Working Group on Vegetation Processes has been disbanded. The WG was established in 2013 to better understand the role of vegetation in coupling the energy, water and carbon cycles. Unfortunately, it has struggled to find a joint activity to rally around, despite (or perhaps because) having the largest number of members of all WGs. I want to thank chair Dr Brad Evans for his efforts, and encourage anyone with an interest in vegetation functioning to consider how a joint activity might be developed in future.

Australian climate change and natural hazards

The Special Issue ‘The effect of historical and future climate changes on natural hazards in Australia’ developed by the OzEWEX Working Group on Trends & Extremes is making good progress. Two papers have been accepted for publication in the special issue of Climatic Change, with another five papers in various stages of review. The accepted papers are now available online, and include a paper on Australian heatwaves led by Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick and sea level and coastal extremes paper led by Kathleen McInnes.

Green light for Australian Climate and Water Summer Institute

Finally, some more exciting news! Perhaps you saw the call for sponsoring and/or organising a summer institute in Australia in the last newsletter. I am happy to announce that we have met our sponsorship target! It is all made possible by support from CSIRO Land and Water, Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, the National Computational Infrastructure, and Australian National University. Further discussions are currently going on with two other organisations, but in any event we will be able to organise a summer institute in the 2016-2017 summer break, and combine it with our 3rd annual OzEWEX workshop. It will be a fabulous opportunity for students and early career researchers, so watch this space!



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