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AMOS Awards 2019

Uwe Radok Award

The Uwe Radok Award is for the best PhD thesis in the AMOS fields of oceanography, glaciology or climatology, awarded in Australia. It honours the contributions of Dr Uwe Radok who was one of Australia’s pioneers in meteorological and glaciological research. He was Head of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Melbourne from 1960 to 1977 and played a leading role in the development of Australian Antarctic meteorology and glaciology. 

The Uwe Radok award for best PhD thesis of 2018 has been awarded to Dr Ariaan Purich from UNSW, Sydney for her thesis titled “Understanding the drivers of recent Southern Ocean sea ice and surface temperature trends”. Ariaan’s PhD explored the mechanisms behind recent increases in total Antarctic sea ice coverage, representing a fundamental challenge in the understanding of high-latitude climate processes in a warming world. Her research found that the majority of CMIP5 models simulate a decline, rather than increase, in sea ice over the same period due to underestimation of the westerly wind jet. She also examined the broad-scale freshening the high- latitude Southern Ocean via ACCESS 1.0 simulations. Ariaan’s PhD resulted in three first author publications, including one in Nature Communications, and concluded that surface westerly-wind trends during austral summer, a strengthened Amundsen Sea Low associated with the phase change of the IPO, and broad-scale surface freshening all made important contributions to Antarctic sea ice and Southern Ocean surface temperature trends over 1979–2013. Ariaan was supervised by Matthew England and Wenju Cai.

Zillman Medal

The Zillman Medal acknowledges scientists in their mature years who have carried out most of their research in Australia and have made a significant contribution with a record of innovative and transformative research. The award is named in honour of the distinguished contributions of Dr John Zillman to Australian and international meteorology and science. Dr Zillman was the Director of the Bureau of Meteorology from 1978 to 2003 and President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) from 1995 to 2003 and is now an honorary senior adviser at The Bureau.  

The 2019 Zillman Medal has been awarded to Professor Neville Nicholls. Professor Nicholls, formerly of the Bureau of Meteorology and Monash University, is the world’s foremost expert on the nature, causes, predictability and impacts of interannual climate variability in Australia. Over the course of five decades of research, he has transformed our understanding of predictability of climate variations and their impact on droughts, crop yields, bushfire and tropical cyclone activity, as well as human health impacts, both here in Australia and elsewhere. He has initiated and led the development of high-quality historical climate databases for Australia and their use in understanding the causes of climate variations and change, and led national and international assessments of observed changes in climate, focused on climate and weather extremes. Neville Nicholls is a national living treasure of Australian climate research, and one of the most illustrious and longest serving members of AMOS.

Priestley Medal

The Priestley Medal recognises personal excellence in meteorological, oceanographic or climate research carried out substantially within Australia by a mid-career scientist no older than 45 years. It commemorates the life-long contributions of Dr C H B Priestley, the first Chief of the CSIRO Division of Meteorological Physics, to meteorological and oceanographic research.

The 2019 Priestley Medal has been awarded to Associate Professor Nerilie Abram. A/Prof Abram from ANU is Australia’s foremost mid-career palaeoclimate scientist with an international standing of the highest repute. She has made outstanding contributions to answering big questions about how Earth’s climate system has behaved over the last millennium, at global and regional scales, and the lessons we can heed from the past in relation to current human-induced climate change. Her portfolio of scientific achievements and discoveries is truly exceptional, and her seminal contributions have appeared in the most prestigious journals of the field; including six first-author publications across ScienceNatureNature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change. Her multidisciplinary approach to paleoclimate research includes expertise in reconstructing oceanographic processes from corals and atmospheric processes from ice cores, and in reconstructing large-scale climate processes from networks of paleoclimate data carefully combined with climate model simulations alongside a process-based understanding.

Christopher Taylor Award

The Christopher Taylor Award recognises professional meteorologists for their initiative in contributing to operational forecasting and supporting activities in Australia. Christopher Taylor was a Bureau of Meteorology analyst and forecaster from the mid-1970s until his untimely death at age 35 in 1988. He had a natural curiosity in, and an enthusiasm and energy for investigating observed weather phenomena and operational forecasting problems, which was largely carried out in his own time.

The 2019 Christopher Taylor award has been awarded to Dr Rob Taggart from the Sydney office of the Bureau of Meteorology. Rob developed new climatological guidance for forecasting fog frequency, duration, onset and clearance times, including displays are used by operational meteorologists on a daily basis to make forecast decisions for fog, a major aviation safety hazard. This work has led to improvements in fog observations and forecasts. Rob also recognised that the key to improving forecasters’ skill was rapid and unequivocal feedback about their performance. He took the initiative to build an interactive, rapidly updated, and user friendly Daily Verification Dashboard. This display provides a quick overview of weather conditions as well as detailed site-based observations, forecasts and associated errors of temperature, rainfall and wind speed for forecasts issued from a week to a day in advance of the observations. Bureau forecasters now have instant feedback about the performance of the forecasts generally but also about the specific outcomes of forecaster edits to the guidance. As well as assisting forecasters, the dashboard has been valuable to anyone faced with a question about the Bureau’s performance leading into a weather event. 

AMOS Science Outreach Award

The AMOS Science Outreach Award recognises AMOS outreach ambassadors, who inspire other AMOS members to undertake science engagement activities, and additionally recognizes those who engage with the public, politicians, schools, businesses and communities, to educate and inform those groups on topics associated with AMOS themes.

The 2019 AMOS Science Outreach Award has been awarded to Dr Joëlle Gergis from the ANU Fenner School. Joëlle has communicated the role that climate and climate extremes have played in Australian history, extending to Australian climate and climate change science more generally. It has been channelled through frequent articles aimed at a more general audience (e.g. The Conversation), public lectures, and invited presentations in non-climate fields. Particularly notable has been her outreach into the Arts and Humanities. Her most outstanding contribution is her highly acclaimed book Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia. Written for the public, and covering Australia’s past climate, future climate and our responses to this, and including engaging descriptions of the range of relevant research, it represents a unique and highly influential outreach contribution. Indeed, it has become a bestseller, and has led to an enormous range of associated outreach activities for Joëlle, not normally available to an AMOS scientist, most notably talks at national literary festivals.

Further Information:

Beth Ebert,
Chair, AMOS Awards Committee

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