Photo of Dr Penny Whetton.

Dr Penny Whetton leads the Better Scenarios project in the Climate Adaptation Flagship.

Dr Penny Whetton: researching climate impact and risk

Dr Penny Whetton is working to increase understanding of the potential impacts of climate change at the local and regional level in Australia and elsewhere.

  • 7 February 2011 | Updated 2 August 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Penny Whetton is a Senior Principal Research Scientist in the Climate Projections Science Team at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research. She leads the Better Scenarios project in the Climate Adaptation Flagship.

A major component of Dr Whetton's research is analysing the regional output of enhanced greenhouse general circulation model (GCM) experiments, and using this information to construct regional scenarios of future climate change for use in impact and adaptation assessment.

She also works on regional climate change impact assessment. She has been the main contributor to, and editor of, the CSIRO's Australian climate change projections released in 1992, 1996, 2001 and the projections released by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology in 2007.

Dr Whetton is also contributing to planning new projections to be released in 2013-14.


In September 1989, Dr Whetton became a Research Scientist in the Climate Impact Group with CSIRO Atmospheric Research. She became the Group Leader in March 1999.

Dr Whetton became Principal Research Scientist in July 1997, and Senior Principal Research Scientist in July 2005.

She was Leader of the Climate Variability and Change program until September 2010.

Dr Whetton has extensive experience in communicating her research to a broad audience, including:

  • more than 150 presentations to audiences ranging from scientists to the general public
  • frequent media contact, and often being quoted in media stories relating to climate change
  • lecturing a course at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on climatology in 1992 and 1994
  • presenting lectures on regional climate change assessment at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in 1992 and for GCTE at Bogor, Indonesia
  • more than 100 publications, including many documents aimed at non-scientists
  • author of very widely distributed CSIRO climate change scenario documents.
    "Led by Dr Penny Whetton, the team of scientists are recognised as the best source of climate change information in Australia."
    Mr Brian Sherman, President of the Australian Museum.

Dr Whetton has expertise in:

  • climate change
  • regional climate change scenarios
  • climate change impacts and integrated impact assessment
  • climate variability including ENSO variability
  • climate modelling
  • palaeoclimate and proxy climate indicators
  • statistical techniques as used in climate studies
  • areas of climate impact, in particular, hydrology and snowcover.

Academic qualifications

Dr Whetton holds a:

  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), majoring in Physics, and an Honours year in Meteorology from the University of Melbourne, Victoria, 1979
  • Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, 1986.

Her thesis was entitled A synoptic climatological analysis of Victorian rainfall variability and involved statistical analysis of the inter-relationship of Australian region rainfall, MSL pressure and sea surface temperature data sets.


Dr Whetton was a:

  • contributor to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • lead author of the regionalisation and climate scenarios chapters of the Working Group 1 component of the Third Assessment Report of IPCC
  • lead author of the regional projections chapter of the Working Group 1 component of the Fourth Assessment Report.

She is currently a lead author of the Australasia chapter of the Working Group II component of the forthcoming IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

The Climate Impact Group was a recipient of the 2003 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

Learn more about Adapting to Climate Change.