Professor David Karoly: Modelling variations in extreme weather and climate events and understanding their causes

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Australia is a land of extreme weather and climate events; a land of droughts and flooding rains. The extreme rainfall and floods in 2010-2012 and the heat waves and bush fires in 2013 are clear evidence of this. Simulations with coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models can be used to help understand the causes of variations in these extreme events and likely future changes.

Three different examples of the use of climate models to understand variations of extremes will be presented. First, observed variations in temperature and rainfall extremes over the last 100 years will be compared to multiple climate model simulations to better understand the causes of any long-term trends. Next, the record summer temperatures of 2012/13 across Australia will be examined to assess the likely contributions of natural climate variability and human-caused climate change to this type of extreme event. Finally, a new community-based climate modelling project, called “weather@home ANZ”, will be described in terms of the opportunities that it provides for improved simulations of weather and climate extremes and quantification of their uncertainties. This citizen science project is only possible by harnessing the power of home computers available through the involvement of many participants.

Professor David Karoly, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and School of Earth Sciences.[subscribe2]

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