Future weather and climate predictions have been given a major boost with the launch of a new national research facility worth $7.6 million.
Based at The Australian National University (ANU), the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest computer modelling system.
As a new National Research Infrastructure funded by the Commonwealth Government, the Australian Earth System Simulator (ACCESS-NRI) will bring together researchers from the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, UNSW Sydney, the University of Tasmania and ANU, as well as international partners.
Together they will use cutting-edge computer simulations and models to provide researchers and decision-makers better information on climate change, extreme weather events, and past and future Earth systems.
Inaugural Director, Professor Andy Hogg from ANU, said ACCESS-NRI’s suite of computer models already power international global climate reports, weather forecasting, seasonal prediction, climate projection and climate adaptation policy.
"Now as a National Research Infrastructure, we will build a community of practice across all of Australia and hopefully the world," Professor Hogg said.
"This will not only mean more powerful and insightful research, but hopefully better decisions for the pressing challenges and acute stresses, or nation and world face, including changing climate.
"Models are only as good as the people behind them. With ACCESS-NRI we are bringing the best of the best together.
"We are creating an ’open source’ weather, climate and Earth system modelling powerhouse that anyone across the globe will be able to access and that will deliver better outcomes for everyone."
ACCESS-NRI will combine ocean, sea-ice and land surface models with a range of chemical and biological models.
The models simulate physical interactions across the Earth system and can predict weather and climate conditions from a few hours to many decades in the future.
This includes modelling currents in the Southern, Pacific and Indian oceans, droughts from prolonged El Niño conditions, and rainfall from the Asian monsoon.
These models are made possible by the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest and most powerful supercomputer, Gadi, based at the National Computational Infrastructure and located on the ANU campus in Canberra.
Acting ANU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Keith Nugent, said the new facility would make a vital contribution to Australia’s future.
"ACCESS-NRI will give Australia the ability to focus on global climate as well as the weather and climate of the Australasian region and the Southern Hemisphere," he said.
"It will also build the capability and capacity of Australian researchers and technicians in climate science, observations and high-performance computational modelling.
"ANU, as the national university, is delighted to host this important initiative for Australia.
"This facility is important for Australian science and for all Australians. It’s an investment in our nation’s know-how and our nation’s future."
ACCESS-NRI is funded by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.