Caroline C. Ummenhofer


Caroline Ummenhofer received a Joint Honours B.Sc. in Marine Biology and Physical Oceanography from Bangor University, UK, and a PhD in Applied Mathematics, specialising in climate modeling, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia. During 2008-2012, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematics and Statistics of Complex Systems, UNSW Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, and Visiting Fellow with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Hobart, Australia. Since 2012, she holds a faculty position in the Physical Oceanography Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA. She won several awards, including the Uwe Radok Award by the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, Eureka Prize for Water Research and Innovation by the Australian Museum, and the James B. Macelwane Medal by the American Geophysical Union. Caroline’s research focuses on the Indian Ocean and its influence on regional climate, especially on the hydrological cycle and extreme events, such as droughts and floods, and their impact on human and natural systems.

Adele Morrison


Dr Adele Morrison is an ARC DECRA Fellow in the Research School of Earth Sciences at the ANU. Prior to that, Adele spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. She received her PhD from ANU in 2014. Adele is a physical oceanographer who studies large-scale ocean circulation and its relationship with Earth’s climate.  Her main focus is on understanding feedbacks in the Southern Ocean under changing climate forcing. Two topics of particular interest are how ocean circulation impacts heat and carbon uptake from the atmosphere, and how ocean currents transport heat towards Antarctica's ice shelves, driving ice melt and sea level rise.

George Philander

Samuel G. H. Philander will transfer to emeritus status at the end of the 2017 academic year after twenty-seven years on the faculty. George was born and raised in South Africa, receiving his B.S. in applied mathematics and physics at the University of Cape Town in 1962. Shortly thereafter his family emigrated to the United States to escape apartheid. But George never lost his attachment to his homeland. From 2007 to 2010 he returned to the University of Cape Town for six months of each year as a research professor and as director of research at the African Centre for Climate and Earth System Science. He received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater in 2007. In 2011, George taught a freshman seminar course that involved a trip to South Africa. The Princeton students and South African students (from the Ikamva Youth group) worked together on field trips around Cape Town to study earth sciences amid the natural beauty of the region. George also arranged summer internships for Princeton students to visit and work in South Africa. A number of South African graduate students in turn spent months or longer working with advisers in Princeton, and have returned to positions in South Africa. In his teaching, George has recently focused on the intersection between science and society, educating students about earth history and the science of global warming, while helping them understand the importance of cultural perspectives in how we define and address scientific challenges.

George received his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1970 studying fluid dynamics and physical oceanography. After a postdoctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton and began lecturing in the interdepartmental Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program (now the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences [AOS] Program within the geosciences department). In 1978, he was appointed senior research oceanographer at GFDL. In 1990, he moved to Princeton University as a professor of geosciences. He served as director of the AOS program from 1990–2006 and as chair of the Department of Geosciences from 1994–2001. He was named the Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences in 2005. In his role as department chair, George calmed tumultuous waters, got the books in order, oversaw the expansion of the biogeochemistry group in the department, and created the Hess Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is now recognized as a highly honorific international position.

In his Ph.D. thesis research and in the early ’70s, George studied the currents of the equatorial oceans, especially the remarkable equatorial undercurrent in the Pacific Ocean, one of the strongest currents in the world and one that is aligned precisely along the equator. With modest observational guidance, in a series of papers culminating in a major review paper in 1973, George outlined the essential dynamics of this current and established himself as a leading expert on the fluid dynamics of the tropical oceans. Throughout the 1970s, he focused primarily on the mean climate of the tropical Pacific Ocean and then the variability in its currents caused either by instabilities or by variability in the wind stresses exerted by the atmosphere on the ocean surface. The intricate response of the tropical oceans to changing wind fields, involving a variety of long equatorially trapped waves—Kelvin waves propagating eastward and Rossby waves propagating westward—was clarified by George and colleagues in the late ’70s and early ’80s, emphasizing the distinctive feature of the tropical oceans as a region in which there can be large basin-scale responses to changes in wind fields on the time scale of months, rather than the multi-year to multi-decade response times more typical of higher latitude oceans.

This interest in the tropical oceans’ response to variability in winds then coalesced into George’s abiding interest in the El Niño phenomenon. By combining these insights on the oceanic response to wind variability with earlier efforts to understand how changing sea surface temperatures affected the atmosphere, a coherent picture emerged of a coupled atmosphere-ocean phenomenon: an unstable nonlinear oscillator, with atmospheric winds responding to ocean temperatures and ocean temperatures responding to atmospheric winds. George orchestrated the research of a closely knit group of colleagues that laid the foundation of the modern understanding of this phenomenon. It was the work of George and his close colleagues that made it clear that El Niño should not be thought of as a metastable state that the climate would occasionally fall into, but that it contained the seeds of its own destruction (in particular, through the equatorial Rossby waves generated during the emergence of the El Niño state) and was best thought of as a phase of a nonlinear oscillation. George (or his Spanish-speaking wife, Hilda) coined the term La Niña for the opposite phase, a term that has entered the popular lexicon. He also wrote the first modern monograph on the subject in 1990: El Niño, La Niña, and the Southern Oscillation.

George helped organize a decade-long (1985–1994) international observational program (TOGA: Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere) that was designed to test the emerging theory of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system in the tropics. TOGA paved the way for operational predictions and for improved simulations in global climate models, topics on which George has written extensively and which continue to be active areas of research.

George has also focused on longer time scales in the climate system. In a two-page paper that is one of his most cited, he discussed how the subtropical atmospheric response to tropical ocean temperatures could engage slower responses of the ocean system, producing variability on multi-decadal time scales—a topic of intense interest today as researchers try to disentangle internal variability on these longer time scales from anthropogenic climate change. In recent years, George turned to paleoclimatology as a unique testing ground for our understanding of the climate system. He was particularly intrigued by the controversial suggestion that two to three million years ago, in a substantially warmer climate, the temperature gradients across the equatorial Pacific were much weaker than at present, a state that current climate models are unable to simulate in response to warming.

The list of awards George has received includes the Sverdrup Gold Medal of the American Meteorological Society (1985), election as fellow in the American Geophysical Union (1991), and membership in the National Academy of Sciences (2004). He was also selected as a fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences (2008) and a fellow of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (2010), recognizing not only his research career as a renowned physical oceanographer but also his drive to improve science education and opportunities in science for all South Africans.

Toshio Yamagata

Toshio Yamagata graduated from Geophysics Institute of School of Science, the University of Tokyo in 1971. His past professional career includes Professor of Department of Earth and Planetary Science of the University of Tokyo (UT). He served three years from 2009 to 2012 as Dean of School of Science of UT. After retiring from the university in 2012, he moved to Japan Agency of Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) as Director of Application Laboratory (APL). He is currently Project Principal Scientist of APL/JAMSTEC, and serving the President at the Japan Marine Science Foundation. He is known as a discoverer of the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode influencing the world climate and has received many honors for his research achievements in ocean and climate dynamics, including fellows of American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society (AMS), and Japan Geoscience Union.  He is also elected as honorary member of the Oceanographic Society of Japan, foreign associate member of l’Academie de Marine, and foreign academician of Nanjing University for Information Science and Technology. He has also received many awards, such as the Society Medals of both the Meteorological Society of Japan and the Oceanographic Society of Japan, the Sverdrup Gold Medal from the AMS, the Prince Albert I Gold Medal from the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans, and the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan.

Andy Pitman

Prof Andy Pitman was born in Bristol and was awarded a bachelor’s degree with honours in physical geography and a PhD in Atmospheric Science by the University of Liverpool, UK. He also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Leadership from Macquarie University. Prof Pitman was Head of the Department of Physical Geography at Macquarie University from 1999 to 2003 and Deputy Dean of Division from 2000 to 2003. He initiated the Climate Risk Centre of Research Excellence there before moving to the University of New South Wales in 2007 to co-direct the newly established Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC). From 2011 to 2017 Prof Pitman was the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. Since 2017 he has been the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. This national centre involves five Universities, major Australian research agencies and many international groups.

CĂ©line Bonfils

Dr. Céline Bonfils is a climate scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Her overall research goal is to identify “fingerprints” of natural and human influences on observed changes in the hydroclimate (e.g., rainfall, droughts, atmospheric circulation). Specifically, to highlight the patterns of human influences in global climate simulations, statistically assess the presence of these patterns in observed climate records (detection), and examine the individual contribution of external drivers, e.g. atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, volcanic eruptions, or air pollution (attribution). She also develops statistical methods to capture the complex temporal behavior of climate responses, as well as multivariate techniques to better compare climate model simulations, historical climate observations and climate reconstructions of the recent past.

Bonfils holds a Ph.D. in Oceanology, Meteorology and Environment from the University of Paris VI, France. Her Ph.D. (under the supervision of Dr. Sylvie Joussaume and Dr. Nathalie de Noblet) focused on the role of continental surface on simulated mid-Holocene climate. After her Ph.D, she worked as a post-doctorate researcher with Professor Inez Fung at the University of California, Berkeley turning her attention to the link between carbon cycle and climate. She finally joined LLNL’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) in 2004 to develop and apply climate fingerprinting tools to CMIP climate simulations in collaboration with Dr. Benjamin Santer and Dr. Philip Duffy. In 2011, Dr. Bonfils received a Department Of Energy Early Career Research Program award to investigate the detection and attribution of large-scale precursors of droughts. She is also an IPCC contributing author. Through her work, Dr. Bonfils contributes and strengthens the PCMDI leadership in detection and attribution of climate change.

Benjamin Henley

Ben is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, a Lecturer at Monash University, an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes and a consultant in water and climate impacts. He is the instigator of the Victorian Drought Risk Inference Project (VicDRIP) which is investigating decadal climate variations, drought risk and hydrological impacts using multi-proxy palaeoclimate records, observed data and climate model simulations.