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23 July 2020 News Release

Announced by the Federal Government today, the centre will focus on natural hazards and disaster risk reduction.

CSIRO will work with the current Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC), the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council, and government departments to help establish the new centre.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the recent devastating bushfire season placed a renewed focus on building resilience to better equip Australia for the future.

"The summer of 2019-20 was defined by consecutive natural events including bushfires, floods, drought and heat extremes which have touched every Australian," Dr Marshall said.

"While much has already been done and achieved by all levels of government, response agencies and the community to increase Australia's resilience, there is more that science can deliver to predict and protect against disasters – we must deliver for Australia.

"The establishment of a new national disaster research centre is an important step forward."

CSIRO was tasked in January 2020 by the Prime Minister to deliver an independent study recommending ways in which Australia can increase its climate and disaster resilience, supported by an Expert Advisory Panel chaired by Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.

"Climate change means the frequency and severity of these events will be a factor into the foreseeable future," Dr Marshall said.

"Increasing climate variability and hazard exposure means we need to consider a truly national response.

"The establishment of the new centre will bring together world-leading science and technology capability, together with Australia's frontline responders to help our nation prepare for and confidently deal with what lies ahead."

CSIRO's history in tackling natural disasters

CSIRO is helping Australia better understand, respond to and prepare for extreme events and emergency situations, such as bushfires, floods, cyclones and drought. CSIRO has been leading research to understand and predict bushfire behaviour and spread since the 1950s. Our scientists provide state fire authorities with data and tools to help manage the impacts of bushfires, and have performed post-bushfire surveillance and research in every major fire event in Australia since the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires.

CSIRO was the first agency internationally to link the increased severity of bushfire weather to climate change. We conduct research on causes of flooding, its impact, and how to prepare or respond.Our research seeks to understand causes and likely changes in tropical cyclone intensity and frequency. CSIRO also has a range of technologies and capabilities that can improve drought resilience and assist with drought response.


North Black range fire, Canberra.

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