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UNSW : UNSW Atmosphere Study Guide
With all of the conflicting data on how the world’s climate will change, it can be hard to figure out exactly what’s going to happen. Sarah Perkins, a graduate of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is now working with the CSIRO to try and determine which climate models are accurate. “I’m working on a project called the Pacific Climate Change Science Program, a collaboration with CSIRO and the bureau of meteorology. I’m looking at global climate models and evaluating them to make predictions for the future,” says Perkins. This has the benefit of eliminating inaccurate models and more accurately predicting climate change in the future so that society can adapt accordingly. “The whole idea behind the project is that what we produce will feed into the adaptation side of things, the more accurate our projections are, the better we can mitigate human induced climate change.” What makes a good model is how well they have predicted today’s climate, as well as the presence of certain features that they have taken into consideration, such as El Niño or correctly-placed rainfall banks. The models they’re analysing come from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report and specifically Perkins is looking for changes over the Pacific region. “We focus on the Pacific because of the low lying islands, and we don’t know as much about what goes on there as we do about land regions.” Prior to this Perkins was completing her PhD at UNSW where she was looking at similar models, but for Australian climate change. While Perkins spends a lot of time on her computer, there is also a lot of scope for her to travel in order to talk to people about their results. She’s excited about travelling to several Pacific Islands later this year to talk to stakeholders about their results. But according to Perkins, this highlight of her role is also the most challenging – communicating the often- complicated science of climate change to the public and also to stakeholders and policy-makers. She hopes that eventually she can help people become convinced in the certainty of the science showing that the Earth’s climate is changing. “There’s a lot of misinformation - because we can’t give an exact figure on how much a certain region’s climate will change, a lot of people think we don’t know what we’re talking about, that’s a big problem. But there’s a lot of research going into this field and a lot of information saying, ’Yes, it is an issue and we need to do something now’. I just really hope that something happens sooner rather than later because the longer we leave it, the harder it is and the more it’s going to cost.” - Fiona MacDonald SARAH PERKINS, CLIMATE SCIENTIST Portrait Atmosphere Study Guide 6 “There’s a lot of research saying, ’Yes, it is an issue and we need to do something now’.” Science in action