Climate science explores the processes that change global, regional and local climates over time. It's a multidisciplinary area of study, which draws upon theory from a variety of domains including:
The UNSW Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) is one of the largest university research centres of its kind in Australia. The CCRC applies basic scientific principles to pressing questions on climate dynamics, global climate change, and extremes of weather and climate. The Centre has expertise in the key areas of the Earth's climate - atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial processes.
Scientists at the CCRC employ a variety of research tools including global and regional models of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface, coastal domain simulations and process models. The Centre also uses a great variety of data collected from satellites, ships, weather stations, eddy flux towers and aircraft from regions as diverse as the Great Barrier Reef, the tropics, urban surfaces, the Tasman Sea and Antarctica.
Through the CCRC, UNSW leads the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, a multi-university initiative to advance fundamental climate sciences in Australia formed in 2017. Researchers at the CCRC are also associated with the International Universities Climate Alliance, a UNSW initiative that brings the world's leading climate and environmental research universities together in a coalition of 48 member institutions, spanning every region on Earth.
The need for students who understand environmentally relevant physical sciences has never been greater. Most researchers at the CCRC quantitatively study processes in the atmosphere, ocean, land surface or how they work together. There is a wide range of career opportunities available for graduates in these areas. To date, 100% of CCRC PhD graduates have secured full time employment shortly after graduating, if not before.
If you're passionate about the environment, studying science is a great way to have a meaningful impact through almost all disciplines. In addition to climate science, you might be interested in studying biology, Earth science, ecology, environmental management, geography, marine & coastal science or physical oceanography.
Climate dynamics and climate systems science are offered as majors in the Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours).
Climate dynamics major
The climate dynamics major is focused on the science of the Earth’s climate with particular emphasis on understanding the dynamic processes within the atmosphere and oceans. This understanding has applications in climate and weather research, forecasting, and environmental and resource management. Courses are designed to provide the skills to use and interpret models of fluid flows as well as the ability to undertake directed research in a related area.
Climate systems science major
The climate systems science major is focused on a broad introduction to the science of the Earth’s climate system. You'll gain an understanding of the fundamentals of atmospheric science, oceanography and chemistry. You'll have the option to focus your studies on areas such as climate and vegetation, hydrology, biology, biogeochemistry or environmental and resource management. Courses are designed to highlight the interrelated nature of climate system components and give you the ability to critically analyse problems in multi-disciplinary science contexts. You'll also develop an ability to undertake directed research.
Gain research experience and enhance your career prospects with an honours degree. These programs are designed to connect your undergraduate study with supervised independent research. An honours degree also provides a pathway into further study, such as a Masters by Research or PhD. You can take honours as a standalone degree or as part of an embedded honours program.
Embedded honours program
Standalone honours program
You can study climate science in the following postgraduate research degrees:
Many different scientific disciplines study aspects of climate using a broad range of methods. Some projects are more numerically intensive (for example, applying fluid dynamical theory to the calculation of oceanic and atmospheric flows) while others are centred on analysis of field measurements with a relatively simple theory component. All projects benefit from skills in lateral and critical thinking, synthesis and communication. You'll develop a thorough understanding of the context of your project and master the fundamental principles behind your work.
While the background needed varies substantially depending on the research area, certain areas of undergraduate training are particularly useful: