www.csiro.au/en/Research/OnA | June 2015
Welcome to CSIRO's oceans and atmosphere e-news
30 years of ocean and climate research in Hobart   Improved severe weather forecasting   Tuna discovery to turn back time
Queen’s Birthday honours   Fishing for answers in the AFL   Mentoring scientists

Feature > From big ships to complex models: 30 years of oceans and climate research in Hobart

RV Investigator docked at the CSIRO Marine Laboratories in Hobart

In 1985, the first compact disc was launched to consumers, the first “.com” registered, and Windows 1 was released. It was also the year that CSIRO’s marine laboratories were opened in Hobart, and Australia’s first Marine National Facility research vessel was launched.

The 30th birthday of our Marine Laboratories in Hobart’s Battery Point has been a marked opportunity to reflect on how CSIRO’s oceans and atmosphere research has identified and found solutions to contemporary problems and researched others as they emerged to help industry and government make crucial decisions.

Our research, like the Atlantis ecosystem model, has played at major role in supporting industries, like fisheries, oil and gas and ports make decisions that take account of economic and social factors. Our work on ocean and atmosphere observing systems and modelling, like Bluelink, has played a major role in the development of ocean forecasting, seasonal prediction and state-of-the-art climate models.

The Marine National Facility and its research vessels have also been based at the laboratories. The MNF's new RV Investigator will enable Australian scientists to travel further into the Southern Ocean and open new research frontiers.

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Industry ACCESS to better weather and climate info

New ways of weather forecasting provide early warning capability that can help industry enhance disaster mitigation and resilience. Scientists at CAWCR, the Collaboration on Australian Weather and Climate Research, a partnership between CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, have developed Australia’s next generation weather and climate model: the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS). Results from this model have improved accuracy of severe weather forecasting which is an important input into better decision making, particularly for oil, gas and other marine based operations.

  Output from the ACCESS model

Reunited with an old (tuna) friend

In April this year recreational fishers pulled in a whopping 102 kg, 175 cm southern bluefin tuna near Port MacDonnell, South Australia. To their surprise, and ours, the stunning specimen was an old CSIRO friend, having been tagged with a smart data archival tag way back in 1993. With this tag returned to our research team, along with some very important samples of the fish, we can now collect insights on the life of this fish and the southern bluefin population in general. These insights will help ongoing research and conservation efforts in our southern oceans.

Matt Bell with the southern bluefin tuna

A fishy legacy for Australia

Australia’s fishing zone is the world’s third largest, and the $2.4 billion commercial fishing and aquaculture industry employs over 11,000 people. CSIRO research helps keep the industry and the marine ecosystem sustainable. An independent study has indicated that the annual long-term economic impact of CSIRO’s research is more than $400 million, including healthier marine ecosystems; secured commercial catch volume; and recreational fisheries benefits.

Read more about our fisheries research over the past 80 years.


The next generation of marine and atmospheric scientists

O&A Flagship scientists are involved in a number of programs designed to support Australia’s future scientists. Through supervisory and mentoring roles, our team is helping undergraduate, honours and PhD students achieve great results and tangible outcomes.

Recent University of Sydney graduate Georgina Wood received 1st class honours for her collaborative work with Hobart scientist Tim Lynch, using our Ruggedized Gigapan camera system (pictured top). She will now work with our team to submit her chapters for journal publication.

Paige Kelly, from University of Tasmania (UTAS), worked with our Algal Ecology and Resources group for an honours project researching the zooplankton community near Maria Island, Tasmania (pictured bottom). Paige’s first manuscript was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research (Oceans).

Our scientists are significant contributors to one of Australia’s leading marine science PhD programs. The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies’ Program in Quantitative Marine Science is a collaboration between CSIRO and UTAS and has over 20 students conducting research in a range of disciplines, from Antarctic sea ice to economic performance of fisheries.

Scholarships will soon be advertised for a PhD scholarship scheme with the Ningaloo Outlook research program, the strategic marine research partnership between BHP Billiton and CSIRO. More information on the BHP Billiton Marine Research Scholarships will appear here.

Georgina Wood with the CSIRO Ruggedized Camera

Paige Kelly CSIRO Honours student

Quick bite >

Meet our experts

This month, Dr Wenju Cai, one of the O&A Research Directors celebrated an important milestone: 25 years of service for CSIRO. Cai’s latest paper ‘Pacific western boundary currents and their roles in climate’ was published in Nature on 18 June.

Congratulations to our colleagues Toni Moate (CSIRO National Facilities and Collections) and Dr Kamil Puri (CAWCR-Bureau of Meteorology) for being recipients of the Public Service Medal in recent Queen’s Birthday honours. The medal is a testament to both their passion and dedication to advancing knowledge and the science of marine and atmospheric research.

Senior Research Scientist Dr Melita Keywood has been elected to the role of Vice-President of the International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution (ICACGP).

Dr Bernadette Sloyan has been appointed to the position of co-chair of the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate. The OOPC is a scientific expert advisory group charged with making recommendations for a sustained global ocean observing system for climate.

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Collaborating for impact

O&A researchers are working with the Monash, Federation, Tasmania and Adelaide Universities on the Hazelwood Health Study to identify potential health outcomes for people who may have been exposed to smoke from the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire. Researchers Melita Keywood and Fabienne Reisen received a Certificate of Recognition from the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand for their contribution to this work.

Our Ningaloo Reef research collaboration with BHP Billiton is now underway. The first phase of the research will survey the iconic shallow corals, an important source of biodiversity providing food and habitat for marine life.

The Great Australian Bight Research Program is a collaboration between CSIRO, BP, the South Australian Research and Development Institute, University of Adelaide and Flinders University. Read a Q&A with program director Dr Steve Lapidge.

Rob Vertessy, CEO of the Bureau of Meteorology, and Andrew Johnson, CSIRO’s Executive Director Environment, have signed the Collaboration for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) Agreement, affirming their agencies’ commitment to working together on Earth-system science.

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... just a nibble

Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship researchers have recently returned from a voyage where six large moorings were deployed off the coast of Brisbane. The research, undertaken in collaboration with the Marine National Facility and the Integrated Marine Observing System, will collect data over a sustained period and measure the current’s impact on weather and climate.

The recently announced El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean could spell risks of heat waves and bushfire for eastern Australia. For the west, which recently suffered devastating marine heatwaves, El Niño could be a welcome relief.

Dr Geoff Tuck from CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere and colleague Dr Athol Whitten have recently turned their fisheries stock management modelling to understand the dynamics of sporting leagues. Read more about how the modelling was used to fish out answers to the AFL’s tanking issues.

CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology researchers and colleagues have contributed to a globally 'highly cited paper' according to the Web of Science. The ACCESS Coupled Model documentation paper (Bi et al., 2013, Aust. Met. Oceanog. Journal) had received enough citations to place it in the top 1% of the academic field of Geosciences based on a highly cited threshold for the field and publication year.

Ask us ...
We'd love to answer any questions you have about CSIRO's ocean and atmosphere research. Email us now.

More >


- Submit an abstract by 6 July to CSIRO’s GREENHOUSE 2015 conference in Hobart, 27 to 30 October 2015

- Rotating sea cucumbers is kind of a big deal

- Explainer: the models that help us predict climate change

- Gifts of the GAB: Five not-so-fishy facts about the Great Australian Bight

Enquiries: Chris Gerbing +61 3 9545 2312 chris.gerbing@csiro.au

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