Dr Helen Cleugh

Speaker Bio

Dr Helen Cleugh is an atmospheric scientist with almost 30 years’ experience combining research discovery, delivery and leadership. She has published 69 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters. Her research focusses on quantifying the interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere; how this affects weather, climate and hydrology; and what this means for managing landscapes for water resources, climate and carbon uptake. This research has been conducted within a collaborative team, providing data and information for decision and policy-makers in government; resource managers; urban planners; and the agriculture sector.


Helen was Deputy Chief of CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research Division (2011 – 2014) and Deputy Director of the Oceans and Atmosphere Business Unit (2014 - 2015). She was also Co-Chair of the Australian Climate Change Science Programme; which delivered climate science, global and regional climate modelling capability, and the science underpinning regional climate projections for Australia. She also led the delivery of research infrastructure and data supporting ecosystem science via NCRIS TERN as leader of the OzFlux Facility; a national network of flux measurement stations (www.ozflux.org.au), funded by Australia’s National Collaborative Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS).


She led the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub (a research consortium comprising CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and five universities) funded by the Australian government’s National Environmental Science Programme (www.environment.gov.au/science/nesp) from its inception in 2015. She stepped aside from this role to become the Director of CSIRO’s Climate Science Centre in February 2017.


Climate change science and solutions for Australia and our region

Dr Helen Cleugh

Director, Climate Science Centre, CSIRO

With one of the most variable climates in the world, Australian research has long played a key role in helping Australians manage climate risk and its impact on our environment, economy and communities. Our research and observations also show that Australia’s already variable climate is changing: old patterns are shifting, records are being broken, and the past is no longer a reliable guide to the future.

Global climate simulations and regional projections are therefore needed to provide a view of Australia’s future climate and likely impacts; yet significant knowledge gaps and uncertainties remain in our climate simulation capabilities. New understanding and insights are needed just as much today as in the past for Australia, and our broader region, to be prepared and resilient in the face of climate and environmental change. Moreover, effective adaptation and mitigation actions to stabilize the global climate, as committed to in the Paris 2015 Agreement, will require robust science, objective analyses, and highly credible climate information that is relevant to our region.

The Climate Science Centre was established by CSIRO in 2016 to ensure that Australia has the world-class science capability needed to address these needs, and deliver national benefit. Building on the very strong research foundation of its predecessors, the Centre has a focus on science excellence, collaboration and partnerships, and solutions – so that policy and management decisions in Australia are effectively informed by the best climate system science.

This talk will describe the Climate Science Centre – especially its current and future research goals and priorities. In describing these goals and priorities, I will reflect on what has been achieved and what research gaps remain a priority. I will also describe our vision for more effectively connecting adaptation and mitigation solutions to climate system science (modelling, observations and process studies). This is critically important to enabling Australasia to be better prepared for, and resilient to, environmental and climate change; but will also require effective collaboration and partnerships within CSIRO, with the Bureau of Meteorology and Australian universities, and globally.

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