Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

CSIRO climate research cuts: Statement by concerned scientists

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The following is a statement prepared by a group of climate scientists in response to the recent announcement of cuts by CSIRO. It was released today at lunchtime by scientists attending the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society 2016 Conference.


We strongly believe that the proposed cuts to CSIRO (announced 4/2/16) will seriously undermine Australia’s capacity to respond to the challenges posed by climate change.

Some 100 positions are to be cut in CSIRO’s Ocean and Atmosphere Flagship as part of 350 lost positions across the organisation. This will cripple CSIRO’s climate research.

Australia is a continent surrounded by rapidly changing weather patterns, connected to a rapidly changing global climate. We have already learnt a great deal about our region’s climate, but urgently need to improve our understanding in important areas.

Such knowledge is necessary if we are to accurately assess the choices, including costs and benefit, of mitigation actions. It is essential if we are to innovate and adapt effectively, and minimise the impacts of future extreme events. If large, extreme events occur, we need to rapidly assess these to diagnose further potential risks. Without such research, Australians will be flying blind into an increasingly volatile future.

Generating this vital knowledge depends on research including long-term atmospheric and ocean monitoring, climate modelling, and development of climate projections and risk information for impact assessment.

This program is being pursued in Australia by CSIRO, in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology and university partners. CSIRO is the primary research agency for many critical elements.

Some examples of CSIRO research activities now at grave risk include:

  • Monitoring changes in the Southern Ocean and how this effects global and regional climate.
  • Monitoring the changing chemical composition of the atmosphere, including long-term trends based on ice core data, and air quality measurements at Cape Grim. This is vital for assessing global sources and sinks of CO2, ozone depletion, and verifying the effectiveness of mitigation.
  • The ongoing development of a world class climate model. The ACCESS model is an essential tool for analysing how climate processes work and for predicting how our climate will respond to increasing greenhouse gases.
  • Understanding what drives climate variability in Australia, and improving our ability to predict climatic anomalies.
  • Understanding and predicting global and Australian region sea level rise and extreme sea level events and providing this information to decision makers.
  • Assessing and synthesising the latest international and national research to provide detailed regional projections of climate change, which are expertly tailored for ease of use in a large range of applications. Such products are essential for innovate adaptation planning, as well as for resource management, community safety, and public education.

The cuts to CSIRO will leave Australia unable to meet certain international research commitments, including commitments stemming from the Paris climate conference. This research is an imperative resource for our Pacific and Asian neighbours.

We call on the Federal government to support and strengthen these vital research areas, which are essential in the continual building of Australia’s climate research, adaptation and mitigation capability.

5:35 pm Feb 8 – CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall corrects the record with vague assurances


Written by Roger Jones

February 8, 2016 at 5:26 pm

One Response

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  1. […] is for a few reasons. One is that research, especially public good research and especially in CSIRO, is under serious threat in Australia. We have a government who tout innovation, but who wilfully […]

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