CLEX Director, Prof Andy Pitman has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science for his outstanding contribution to climate change.

He was among 22 researchers announced today as members of the Academy. The Fellows are among Australia’s most distinguished scientists, elected by their peers for ground-breaking research.

Australian Academy of Science President, Professor John Shine, congratulated the new Fellows for their achievements on the international stage.

“These researchers have not only been at the forefront of Australia’s scientific community, but have also been leaders in global science,” Professor Shine said.

Prof Pitman is an international authority on the role of land surface processes in the climate system including their influence on regional rainfall and temperature extremes. His findings have transformed scientists’ appreciation of land cover to be a dynamic and influential component of the climate system, including climate extremes.

He said the Academy’s recognition was both delightful and unexpected.

“I have noted the enormous contribution the Academy of Science has made to Australia over many years, and I am genuinely looking forward to contributing where I can,” he said.

As a direct consequence of Prof Pitman’s work, there is now an accepted role of land cover change in regional climate projections, and a new field devoted to utilising land cover to mitigate the worst impacts of regional climate extremes.

My research focuses on how the land is represented in climate models, which are the only tools we have for understanding future climate. I am particularly interested in how we can use understanding of the land surface to improve our knowledge of future climate extremes, and perhaps to mitigate some climate extremes that will affect Australia more severely in the future.”

UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston AO congratulated her colleagues on the prestigious achievement.

“It is a real honour to be selected by your peers as a fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences and I commend Professors Sue Coppersmith and Andy Pitman,” Prof. Johnston said.

“Their sustained research excellence and science leadership has helped us better understand how the world works. That new knowledge can be applied to tackle grand challenges such as how to build a quantum computer and how to better predict climate extremes. We are privileged to have both Professors represent the Faculty and the University at this national level.”