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Climate change made easy

Australia is a land of droughts and flooding rains, but the cause of our varying climate remains elusive to many.

One Monash researcher is hoping to change this through his research into the effect humans have on the environment and will be discussing his research at an upcoming lecture.

Dr Dietmar Dommenget from Monash University’s School of Mathematical Sciences, said if he had his way, everyone would have the means to become better informed about climate change.

“Almost everyone has an opinion on climate change, but most people don’t know anything about it,” Dr Dommenget said.

“This has inspired me to develop a climate model suitable for use on home computers, so that everyone will be able to find answers to questions about everything from emissions to rainfall changes.”

In his upcoming lecture, Understanding the Physics of Climate Change, Dr Dommenget will delve into anthropogenic – or human impacted – climate change.

“It’s important what we understand how climate science got to its current state and to analyse what we really know about it. We can then begin to explore our physical understanding of climate science,” Dr Dommenget said.

“Using the simple climate model I developed, I can then begin to explain how climate models work.”

Dr Dommenget’s work on climate variability has been funded by the ARC since 2011 as part of a seven-year Centres of Excellence project. The ultimate aim of his work is not to determine whether the climate is changing, but why, and how much.

“I study the past as much as possible for insights, but in this young field of study, there is only 20 to 30 years of solid data to work with,” Dr Dommenget said.

“In the next few decades, however I expect that many uncertainties will disappear and we will know, for example, not just that the world is warming but whether it is doing so by two degrees, or by six.”

Forecasts of future climate conditions are likely to become more accurate with increased understanding of what causes changes, but Dr Dommenget said climate is quite chaotic.

“There is chaos in the system that cannot be predicted. The only thing it is safe to say is we should be careful – we should be assuming the worst,” Dr Dommenget said.

Dr Dommenget’s talk is part of the 2012 Monash Science Centre’s Science Shaping Society lecture series.

Understanding the Physics of Climate Change will be held from 7-8pm on 23 May in the Monash Science Centre, Building 74, at Monash University’s Clayton campus.


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