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Schools in Science

Large-scale climate variability and change


The large-scale climate variability and change group deals with all aspects of climate or weather variability that is longer than a week and involves regional scales larger than 1000km. We address questions such as: How does a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean lead to heat waves in Melbourne or how  does changes in the ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic affect our rainfall patterns in Australia or what is causing a decade of drought. This also involves understanding and simulating the global climate response to anthropogenic climate change, and understanding the drivers of the recent hiatus  in global surface warming. We deal with a wide range of methods from theoretical considerations, to data analysis of observations and simulations to modelling of the climate over the full range of complexities and scales.

Research Team


Dr Dietmar Dommenget

  • Large-scale Climate Dynamics, Climate Modelling, El Nino, Modes of Variability, Climate Change

Prof Michael Reeder

  • Dynamics of the Hadley and Walker circulations, monsoon variability, tropical rainfall

Dr Ailie Gallant

  • Australian and Southern Hemisphere climate variability, variability in atmospheric teleconnections, Australian extremes and climate change

Professor Neville Nicholls

  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation

Dr Shayne McGregor

  • El Nino dynamics and predictability, Pacific decadal variability, Interbasin connectivity, the recent hiatus in global warming, the impact of explosive volcanism.

Dr Jennifer Catto

  • Midlatitude storm-tracks and climate change, rainfall trends and variability, atmospheric teleconnections.

Recent Publications


Abellan, E., and S. McGregor, 2015:The role of the meridional wind shift in the seasonal synchronization of ENSOevents, Climate Dynamics (in press).

Ackerley, D., G. J. Berry, C. Jakob,M. J. Reeder, and J. Schwendike. 2015. Summertime precipitation over northernAustralia in AMIP simulations from CMIP5. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 141,1753 – 1768.

Aiken, C. M., A. Santoso, S. McGregorand M. H. England, 2015: Optimal forcing of ENSO either  side of the1970's climate shift and its implications for predictability, ClimateDynamics, 45, 47-65, doi: 10.1007/s00382-014-2300-8

Birch, C. E., M. Roberts, L.Garcia-Carreras, D. Ackerley, M. J. Reeder, A. Lock, and R. Schiemann. 2015.Sea breeze dynamics and convection initiation: The influence of convectiveparameterization on model biases. J. Clim., 28, 8093 – 8108.

Cai, W.,  G. Wang, A. Santoso,M.J. McPhaden, L. Wu, F.F. Jin, A. Timmermann, M. Collins, G. Vecchi, M.Lengaigne, M.H. England, D. Dommenget, K. Takahashi and E. Guilyardi, 2015:Increased frequency of extreme La Niña events under greenhouse warming. Nature Climate Change, 5, 2, 132-137.

Dommenget, D., 2015: A simple modelperturbed physics study of the simulated climate sensitivity uncertainty andits relation to control climate biases. Climate Dynamics, in press.

Frankcombe, L. M., S. McGregor andM. H. England, 2015: Robustness of the modes of Indo-Pacific sea levelvariability, Climate Dynamics, 45, 1281-1298, doi:10.1007/s00382-014-2377-0.

Maher, N., S. McGregor, M. H. Englandand A. Sen Gupta, 2015: Effects of Volcanism on Tropical Variability, GeophysicalResearch Letters, 42,6024–6033, doi: 10.1002/2015GL064751.

McGregor, S., A. Timmermann, andF.-F. Jin, 2015: Charging El Niño events with off-equatorial wind bursts? ClimateDynamics (in press).

Raut, B. A., C. Jakob, and M. J.Reeder. 2014. Changing rainfall over southwest Australia., J. Clim., 27,5801 – 5814.

Santoso, A., Cai, W. Collins, M.,McPhaden, M., Jin, F.F. Guilyardi, E. Vecchi, G., Dommenget, D. Wang, G., 2015:ENSO Extremes and Diversity: Dynamics, Teleconnections, and Impacts. BAMS, inpress.

Schwendike, J., G. Berry, M. J.Reeder, C. Jakob, and P. Govekar. 2015. Trends in the local Hadley and Walkercirculations. J. Geophys. Res., 120, 7599–7618

Stuecker, M. F., F.-F. Jin, A.Timmermann, S. McGregor, 2015: Combination Mode Dynamics of the anomalousNorth-West Pacific Anticyclone, Journal of Climate, 28, 1093–1111, doi:

Taschetto, A. S., R. R. Rodrigues, G.A. Meehl, S. McGregor and M. H. England, 2015: How sensitive are thePacific-tropical North Atlantic teleconnections to the position and intensityof El Niño-related warming? Climate Dynamics, doi: 10.1007/s00382-015-2679-x.

Tyrrell, N. L., D. Dommenget , C.Frauen, S. Wales and M. Rezny, 2015: The Influence of Global Sea SurfaceTemperature Variability on the Large-Scale Land Surface Temperature. ClimateDynamics, 44, 2159-2176.

van Rensch, P., A. J. E. Gallant, W.Cai and N. Nicholls, 2015. Evidence of local sea surface temperaturesoverriding the southeast Australian rainfall response to the 1997-1998 El Niño.Geophys. Res. Lett., (accepted)

Yu, Y., D. Dommenget, C. Frauen, G.Wang and S. Wales, 2015: ENSO diversity as a result of the recharge oscillatorinteracting with the slab ocean. Climate Dynamics, in press.


Ackerley, D., G. J. Berry, C. Jakob,M. J. Reeder. 2014. The processes that lead to summertime rainfall in northwestAustralia in the ACCESS1.3 GCM. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 140,2515 – 2526.

Bayr, T., D. Dommenget , T. Martinand S. Power, 2014: The Eastward Shift of the Walker Circulation in response toGlobal Warming and its relationship to ENSO variability. Climate Dynamics, 43,2747-2763.

Bayr, T. and D. Dommenget, 2014:Comparing the spatial structure of variability in two datasets against eachother on the basis of EOF modes.  Climate Dynamics, 42, 1631-1648.

Berry, G. J., and M. J. Reeder. 2014.Objective identification of the intertropical convergence zone: Climatology andtrends from the ERA-Interim reanalysis. J. Clim., 27, 1894 –1909.

Dommenget, D., S. Haase, T. Bayr andC. Frauen, 2014: Analysis of the Slab-Ocean El Nino Atmospheric Feedbacks inObserved and Simulated ENSO Dynamics. Climate Dynamics, 42, 3187-3205.

England, M. H., S. McGregor, P.Spence, G. A. Meehl, A. Timmermann, W. Cai, A. Sen Gupta, M. J. McPhaden, A.Purich and A. Santoso, 2014:Recent intensification of wind-drivencirculation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus, Nature ClimateChange, 4, 222-227, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2106.

Frauen, C., D. Dommenget , M. Reznyand S. Wales, 2014: Analysis of the Non-Linearity of El Nino SouthernOscillation Teleconnections. J. Climate, 27, 6225-6244.

McGregor, S., P. Spence, F. U.Schwarzkopf, M. H. England, A. Santoso, W. S. Kessler, A. Timmermann, C. W.Böning, 2014: ENSO driven interhemispheric Pacific mass transports, Journalof Geophysical Research: Oceans, 2014, 119, 6221-6237.

McGregor, S., A. Timmermann, M. F.Stuecker, M. H. England, M. Merrifield, F.-F. Jin, Y. Chikamoto, 2014: RecentWalker Circulation strengthening and Pacific cooling amplified by Atlanticwarming, Nature Climate Change, 4, 888-892, doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2330.

Parker, T. J., G. J. Berry, and M. J.Reeder. 2014. The structure and evolution of heatwaves over southeasternAustralia. J. Clim., 27, 5768 – 5785.

Parker, T. J., G. J. Berry, M. J.Reeder, and N. Nicholls. 2014. Modes of climate variability and heat waves inVictoria, Southeastern Australia. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 6926 - 6934.

Simpkins, G. R., S. McGregor, A. S.Taschetto, L. M. Ciasto, M. H. England, 2014: Tropical connections to climaticchange in the southern hemisphere extratropics: The role of Atlantic SSTtrends. Journal of Climate, 27, 4923-4936, doi: [A*: 1/3]

Widlanski, M. J., A. Timmermann, S.McGregor, M. F. Stuecker, W. Cai, 2014: An interhemispheric tropical sea levelseesaw due to El Niño Taimasa. Journal of Climate, 27, 1070–1081,doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00276.1

Recent Grants

Climate SystemScience, ARC Centre of Excellence (2011-2017). CIs:  A. Pitman, C.Jakob, N. Bindoff, M. England, D. Karoly M. Roderick, L. Alexander, A.Hogg, D. Dommenget, M. Reeder, T. Lane, S. Sherwood, S. Steffen, P.Strutton.

Beyond the lineardynamics of the El Nino Southern Oscillation, ARC Discovery (2012-2015), CIs: D.Dommenget.

Either side of theBig Wet: the future resilience of southeastern Australia's biota, ARC Linkage (2013-2016), CIs: R. Mac Nally, R. Thompson, D. Dommenget.

Understanding thetermination of El Nino-Southern Oscillation events, ARC DECRA (2013-2015), CI. S.McGregor.

Remote forcing ofPacific Ocean variability and impacts on global climate, ARC DP (2015-2017),CIs: M. England, A. Sen Gupta, A. Santoso and S. McGregor, PIs: C.Ummenhofer, W. Cai and A. Timmermann.