$1.5 million for NSW Bushfire and Natural Hazards Research Centre climate and weather research

A talent line of future NSW climate and weather experts will be created thanks to NSW Government funding the NSW Bushfire and Natural Hazards Research Centre to undertake climate and weather research.

A night-time scene of lightning striking thickly treed hills facing the dark waters of a bay; the water, sky and clouds are lit by white lightning

The $1.5 million will be used to launch a targeted master’s program at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney with research projects focused on a better understanding of weather and climate extremes and their impacts on natural hazards such as floods or bushfires.

The NSW Bushfire and Natural Hazards Research Centre was launched earlier this year and brings together experts to help better understand, predict and manage natural hazards.

'The addition of this climate and weather research area significantly enhances the centre’s capacity to address the most important challenges in natural disaster management,' said Research Centre Director Professor Matthias Boer, from Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment.

'The climate science expertise resulting from this initiative will serve NSW into the future, building a deeper knowledge and understanding of climate and weather, risk levels and impacts.'

The research centre, which includes a consortium of 6 universities, was founded to deliver on key recommendations of the 2019/20 NSW Bushfire Inquiry. The centre works closely with the NSW Government to deliver scientific evidence to underpin planning and emergency response decisions.

The newly funded additional research area into climate and extreme weather was created in response to a recommendation from the 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry.

'This additional investment in future climate and weather experts will build New South Wales’ capacity to address natural hazard risks,' said Dr Georgina Kelly, Executive Director of the Science, Economics and Insights division of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

'Research into climate and weather is the best way for us to strategically consider how to maximise our chance of preventing or adapting to natural hazards over time.'

The new master’s program will begin at UNSW next year.

Students will complete a Master of Philosophy which will include courses on climate change science and undertake a research project with experts from the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Research Centre.

'We know that there are increasing risks of extreme weather due to climate change.

'This research program provides us with exciting opportunities to better understand how these changing weather events affect natural hazards and allow us to better plan and respond in the future,' said Associate Professor Fiona Johnson, Director of the Water Research Centre at UNSW.

'Having a cohort of students working on these important research problems will allow us to build a critical mass of climate-related natural hazard research in New South Wales as well as providing a unique training environment for our next generation of natural hazard managers and researchers. '