University wins $3.4 million for precision climate tracking project

28 May 2024

A world-leading oceanographer at the University of Tasmania has been awarded an Australian Research Council Australian Laureate Fellowship to develop precision tracking of changes in the Earth’s climate system as it responds to emission reductions.

Professor Nathan Bindoff is one of 17 Laureate Fellows announced by the Australian Research Council today, winning a grant of $3,443,000 million over the next five years.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Anthony Koutoulis said the award captured a unique opportunity for Australia to build on the specialist Antarctic and Southern Ocean science the University is renowned for.

“Nathan’s research on detecting and interpreting human influence in the oceans from rising greenhouse gases is at the forefront of international advances in climate science, particularly through his leadership roles in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports,” Professor Koutoulis said.

“This project will greatly increase the precision with which we can separate natural and human-induced changes in the global climate system on short-time frames.

“In this critical decade for climate action, this is exactly what we need to know to meet the Paris Agreement made by 195 nations to limit global warming to less than two degrees.”

Professor Bindoff said he was “beyond thrilled” to be awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship.

“Precision climate tracking is new, very demanding of our existing observing and modelling systems, yet central to monitoring the health of the planet,” Professor Bindoff said.

“The oceans are critical because they store more than 91% of the excess energy from human activity and are central to the Earth’s water cycle.”

“The project will develop near real-time indicators of the oceans’ response to our efforts to reduce emissions, thus providing governments with the evidence that reductions in emissions are working.

“Being able to accurately detect what is climate change contribution from human-made greenhouse gases is an urgent task, and we will shorten the time taken from more than a decade to less than two years.

“The project will train at least 10 staff and students in Hobart as the next generation of research and technical oceanographers with strong climate science backgrounds equipped to tackle our future climate challenges,” Professor Bindoff said.