Christopher's cover image
Christopher

Christopher White

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Tasmania Environment > General
Environment > Climate Change
To improve long-range forecasting of extreme weather events and the communication of the associated risk to decision makers - USA, UK, Sweden
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Dr Chris White is a Hobart-based scientist and engineer with over ten years’ experience of conducting research into the understanding, impact and predictability of extreme weather events. His core interests lie in helping to make communities safer and more resilient to extreme weather events, including better preparedness against natural hazards and long–term climate change.

At the time of Chris’s application, he was a Research Scientist working at the Bureau of Meteorology, which was looking at ways to improve its capacity to produce more reliable forecasts of high-impact extreme weather events on longer timescales – i.e. sub-seasonal (typically two to four weeks ahead) and seasonal (up to a few months ahead).

His Churchill Fellowship provided Chris with a unique opportunity to learn about the progress international meteorological institutions in the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA (including the UK Met Office, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute) were making into researching and developing longer-range forecasts. He wanted to identify and address some of the critical problems involved in longer-range forecasting to support his research.

The climate and meteorological institutions and Government departments Chris visited all concluded that reliable forecasts of extreme events on this timescale could be beneficial to a range of sectors of society, presenting an emerging and important opportunity for Australia. Chris identified several sectors where end-users could use applications, products and services based on longer- range forecasts – notably for disaster risk reduction, emergency management, human health and international aid and development.

On returning from his Fellowship, using the information he had gathered, he helped the Bureau of Meteorology develop long-range forecasts of extreme heatwave events for Australia. Chris led the writing of a peer-reviewed journal article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society covering the topic of his Fellowship, with over 30 co–authors, including most of the researchers he met on his trip. He continues to work collaboratively with many of them to develop new ways to help decision-makers across Australia.

He has since taken up a lecturing position in the School of Engineering and ICT at the University of Tasmania, where he is conducting research into natural hazards and risk management – in partnership with the Tasmanian Government – that uses much of the information he gained during his Fellowship. Chris is continuing to extend his collaborative research into the development of innovative end-user-focused applications and services, including exploring how to communicate, use and apply them effectively.

Chris lives with his partner Caroline and year-old son Wilf. Chris and Caroline emigrated from the UK to Australia in 2008. 

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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