Director’s Update – June 2023

Travel, conferences, a new data set that highlights the ecological importance of micro-climates experienced along elevational transects, Australian data that reinforces the importance of taking account of  carbon release after rain, benchmarking TERN’s annual reporting on changes to the environment – all in this month’s newsletter.

Welcome to our winter newsletter.  It comes as many of you are heading north to the Ecological Society of Australia 2023 Conference (3-7 July) and/or the MODSIM2023 (9–14 July) – both in delightful Darwin, the perfect winter destination for those already tired of relatively cold, wet and dark days.  Our newsletter highlights TERN-related speakers, including Siddeswara Guru and Tayla Lawrie from the data and TSX teams, respectively, with Tayla speaking at both conferences. 

For MODSIM2023, we are delighted not only that TERN’s Litchfield Savanna SuperSite is the destination for one of the MODSIM2023 field trips but that it is booked out with a wait list. We are also proud to be sponsoring the MODSIM2023 plenary by Professor Anne Poelina, Nyikina Warrwa Indigenous woman, Kimberley region, Western Australia, whose topic is “Modelling economics of Wellbeing for Martuwarra Fitzroy River Country and People”.

My own travels have been extensive over the past few months and I am now energised after catching up with so many of the TERN community while attending recent events in different parts of Australia – it was also great to see our newest Supersite this month – the Fletcherview Tropical Rangeland SuperSite just inland from Townsville in Queensland. On the international front, in early May, I was in Finland at a Global Environmental Observatory workshop and shortly afterwards, I attended the National Science Foundation supported Innovation Summit | ESIIL held at Boulder, USA.

The Finland workshop at the Hyytiälä historical forestry station built on the call for a Global Environmental Observatory first presented in Nature  in 2018 by the workshop’s host, Markku Kulmala. Others who made the journey into the boral forest were representatives from the world’s remote sensing and in situ environmental, climate and speciality observatories and relevant global organisations such as WMO. Over 2 days, the attendees discussed issues such as what is needed from Earth observations point of view; how to prepare for seamless in-situ – remote sensing observations to meet present model needs including validations but also to give new processes, interactions and feedbacks to models; how to bridge networks towards integrated climate and environment relevant observations;  how to best integrate different in situ environmental data and how to best seamlessly bridge the in-situ data with the remote sensing data and models.

While there was an impressive breadth and depth of environmental and climate observatories present among the 47 attendees, gaps in world monitoring were acknowledged. I spoke to Dr Natacha Bernier from Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) about her take on how we might address this challenge. Natacha said, ‘I think the idea here is that monitoring infrastructure is extremely costly for countries and we are going to have to decide how we deploy them so that overall, we manage to serve the needs of the climate and the weather community and the research community who are working on addressing our knowledge gaps in process and coupled modelling and so on. The idea is really to build to make it serve all communities as best as possible”.

The ESIIL meeting was also inspiring with respect to the breadth of attendees – culturally, geographically, generationally, intellectually. It was stimulating to workshop with diverse people from around the globe on what challenges environmental researchers might be addressing over the coming decade and how we might evolve the supporting data infrastructure.  Given the diversity of participants and ESIIL’s recognition of the power of inclusivity, it is not surprising that one of the talks was on the power of using cultural intelligence as a tool – as a capability that we can all learn whether we are working across international borders or dealing with differences closer to home. It was explained that cultural intelligence (CQ) is quite simply our ability to relate and work with people from different cultural backgrounds. CQ applies to national and ethnic differences, but it also relates to the differences that exist across different regional cultures, professional cultures, generations, functions, and a whole lot more – importantly, it is a tool now adopted by leading organisations all over the world to underpin their sustainability and innovation.

As I leave you to look over articles posted this month, I am already looking ahead to the July newsletter – we expect it to have the outcomes of a number of funding grants TERN has applied for. And with the commencement of our new 5 year NCRIS grant we will take a look back at what each of TERN’s capabilities has accomplished over the grant period that is about to close.  Until next month, happy reading!

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