UNSW researcher nets climate change award


One of the nation’s leading climate researchers has been awarded the prestigious BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Climate Change.

Awarded for his work into projecting and interpreting the threat of global warming on accelerating increases in sea levels, UNSW’s Professor John Church is the first Australian to receive the award.

Professor Church is recognised for narrowing the causes of rising seas, linking satellite observations with in-situ measurements and numerical modelling to identify the human impact on sea level changes and discovering that the rate of increase is accelerating over time.

He shares the prize and €400,000 prize money with French space geodesist Anny Cazenave, a specialist in satellite altimetry (the measurement of the form and dimensions of Earth) and British climate scientist Professor Johnathan Gregory, an expert in ocean heat uptake and climate sensitivity.

Forecasts developed from their research warn that without drastic greenhouse gas reductions sea levels could rise more than one metre by the end of this century, threatening homes of 100 million people living on the coast. Their findings have been instrumental in improving the understanding of how the earth system works, enabling more solid projections.

“This award is a recognition of the importance of the science, the progress that has been made over recent decades, and of course the role that the three of us have made in contributing to the science,” says Professor Church.

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