Worth waiting for: ARC grant success for Jan Zika and Matthew England

Dr Jan Zika (UNSW Mathematics & Statistics) and Prof Matthew England (UNSW Climate Change Research Centre) were awarded $1M in funding in today’s much-awaited announcement by the Australian Research Council. Their Discovery Projects will examine the role of ocean heat content in sea level change and rapid warming near in Antarctica.


Jan’s Discovery Project, “Ocean heat content change and its impact on sea level”, aims to improve projections of possible sea level changes. Poor understanding of the way in which heat is absorbed at the sea surface and distributed by ocean circulation is a leading source of uncertainty in projections of global surface temperature and regional sea level rise by the end of this century. The project, which is a collaboration with Professor John Church (UNSW), Professor Jonathan Gregory (University of Reading, UK), and Dr Xuebin Zhang (CSIRO), aims to transform our ability to predict how ocean temperature and sea level will change in the future.

Matt’s Discovery Project, “Risks of rapid ocean warming at the Antarctic continental margin”, aims to comprehensively understand the interconnected processes by which oceanic heat is circulated towards Antarctica. The risk of rapid ocean warming at the Antarctic margin is profound, with change already detected via deep ocean warming, land-ice melt, and ice shelf collapse. Matt’s project will use high-resolution global and regional ocean/sea-ice models better constrain future rates of ice melt around Antarctica by providing vital knowledge of the ocean processes, dynamics, and feedbacks relating to warm water intrusion onto the Antarctic continental shelf. The project is a collaboration with Dr Andrew Hogg (ANU), Dr Adele Morrison (ANU), Dr Paul Spence (UNSW) and Dr Stephen Griffies (Princeton University, USA).

Full details of today’s ARC grants announcement can be found here.

Upcoming public lecture by Princeton climate scientist Dr Stephen Griffies

Climate scientist and oceanographer Dr Stephen Griffies will deliver a public lecture at the AMSI Summer School at UNSW Sydney on Wednesday 30 January 2019.

Stephen Griffies has been at Princeton University and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory since 1993. His research spans a broad spectrum of fundamental and applied areas of ocean and climate science, including numerical modelling, mesoscale and submesoscale dynamics, turbulence parameterizations, Southern Ocean dynamics, Atlantic predictability and variability, sea level science, Lagrangian and watermass analyses, and foundations of ocean fluid mechanics. He is the 2014 recipient of the EGU Fridtjof Nansen medal for oceanographic excellence and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

A Math/Physics View of Ocean Circulation


Abstract: Ocean circulation acts like bloodlines for the planet, moving heat, oxygen, carbon, and nutrients around the world. Furthermore, ocean circulation moderates climate: think of the different climates between a maritime region (Sydney) and a mid-continent region (Alice Springs). Ocean circulation thus affects life both on land and within the ocean. When the ocean circulation slows or speeds, the climate system is affected. Ocean and climate scientists aim to understand the physical mechanisms underlying changes in ocean circulation. What forces cause the changes? How predictable are they? To help answer these questions, oceanographers formulate mathematical equations for the governing physical laws and place the equations on supercomputers for grand simulations. In this talk I will offer a sampling of the research questions confronting ocean scientists who make use of mathematics, physics, and computer simulations. Some of the questions touch upon the most difficult questions facing humanity in the 21st century.

Date: Wednesday 30 January 2019
Time: 7.00pm – approximately 8.30pm (ADST) Light refreshments will be available from 6.00pm
Venue: The Science Theatre, F13, Union Road, The University of New South Wales, Kensington Campus, Sydney
Address: Gate 2, High Street, The University of New South Wales, Kensington
Cost: Free (Register online)