The Australian Climate Change Science Programme

Dates available: 
25 March 2013

The Australian Climate Change Science Programme (ACCSP) is the Australian Government’s flagship climate change science programme. The programme has been running continuously since 1989 and is a key driver of Australia’s climate change research effort.

The world-class science undertaken by the ACCSP provides a comprehensive understanding of global and regional climate. It improves our understanding of the causes, nature, timing and consequences of climate change.

Climate change science provides the information needed to understand and plan for climate change impacts, thereby increasing community resilience and reducing the cost to society.

The ACCSP plays a significant role in informing the development of Australia's climate change policies.

The ACCSP supports science that:

  • improves ocean, land, atmosphere and cryosphere observations that are used to monitor our climate and underpin climate change projections
  • increases our understanding of the key drivers of climate in the Australian region and how these are changing with global warming
  • increases our understanding of past and future climate change, climate variability and extreme events
  • reduces uncertainties around climate change projections.

The ACCSP provides information to researchers, government, business, industry, decision-makers and the public.

The ACCSP is a partnership between the Department of the Environment, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). The Department provides $7.8 million per year, and co-investment by CSIRO and BoM results in total investment of around $15 million per year for research to meet the shared goals and priorities of the three agencies.

The ACCSP also supports activities under the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and the Australian Academy of Science.

Successes and achievements

Profound progress has been made in our understanding of the climate system since the program’s inception in 1989. This understanding helps to determine the likely effects of climate change on our envi­ronment, our economy and our society.

Significant achievements include:

  • understanding the rate of global sea level rise and the regional variation around Australia’s coast, and pioneering studies of sea level extremes
  • understanding of Southern Ocean physics and chemis­try, and identifying links to climate change for the Australian region and the globe
  • new approaches to improve understanding of important climate feedback processes and increased understanding of the causes of decadal climate variability
  • improving climate projec­tions through the development of more sophisticated climate models
  • new methods to develop and communicate regional projections of future climate change
  • insights into the cause and nature of Australia’s droughts: drought occurrence is projected to increase in most of Australia, but particularly in south-western Australia
  • studies of the carbon cycle and carbon budget, for Australia (with its unique ecosystems) and globally.

Program scientists have been active contributors to international climate change research and assessment activities including those associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The ACCSP has been a catalyst for a much larger effort within the participating research organisations, and facilitates collaboration among scientists from a range of institutions.

The ACCSP contributes research in the following areas:

Further information